In the early morning hours of September 19, 1777, British General John Burgoyne launches a three-column attack against General Horatio Gates and his American forces in the First Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm.
Coming under heavy cannon fire from the approaching British troops, General Gates initially ordered the Northern Army to be patient and wait until the British neared before launching a counter-attack. General Gates’ second in command, American Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, strongly disagreed with Gates’ orders and did not hesitate to share his opinion with his superior. After arguing for several hours, General Arnold was finally able to convince Gates to order American troops onto the battlefield to meet the center column of the approaching British, and to dispatch a regiment of riflemen to intercept the British right flank.
Although the Americans were able to inflict severe casualties on the British, the delay in ordering a counter-attack forced the Americans to fall back. During the five-hour battle, the Americans lost approximately 280 troops killed, while the British suffered a more severe loss of more than 550 killed.
Due to the disagreement over military decisions of the battle, Gates removed Arnold as his second in command. Arnold felt slighted by the army he served, and in 1780, he betrayed the Patriot cause by handing over the Patriot-held fort at West Point, New York, to the British.