Today in History – October 17

Courtesy of our friends at, I am pleased to begin each and every day of the week here at Bulldog Pundit with a snippet of some important event that occurred on this date sometime in the past. Some events might come readily to mind while others may take a bit of effort to recall. Not all are historically portentous and some may even seem whimsical. Nevertheless, each and every one is a grain in the hourglass of human history.

The Battle of Bemis Heights sealed the fate of Burgoyne’s campaign and crystallized the viability of the American Revolution in the mind of King Louis XVI. Gen. Arnold was seriously wounded in the battle and nearly lost one of his legs; the injury left him a partially lame for the rest of his life.

Strange as it sounds, I dearly wish he had died of that wound: to this day he would have been remembered with celebration (at least by those of us who know and venerate our own history) as the Hero of Saratoga and not the penultimate traitor of the American Revolution.

During the American Revolution, British General John Burgoyne surrenders 5,000 British and Hessian troops to Patriot General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York.

In the summer of 1777, General Burgoyne led an army of 8,000 men south through New York State in an effort to join forces with British General Sir William Howe’s troops along the Hudson River. After capturing several forts, Burgoyne’s force camped near Saratoga while a larger Patriot army under General Gates gathered just four miles away. On September 19, a British advance column marched out and engaged the Patriot force at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, or the First Battle of Saratoga. Failing to break through the American lines, Burgoyne’s force retreated. On October 7, another British reconnaissance force was repulsed by an American force under General Benedict Arnold in the Battle of Bemis Heights, also known as the Second Battle of Saratoga.

Gates retreated north to the village of Saratoga with his 5,000 surviving troops. By October 13, some 20,000 Americans had surrounded the British, and four days later Burgoyne was forced to agree to the first large-scale surrender of British forces in the Revolutionary War. When word of the Patriot victory reached France, King Louis XVI agreed to recognize the independence of the United States. Soon after, French Foreign Minister Comte de Vergennes made arrangements with U.S. Ambassador Benjamin Franklin to begin providing French aid to the Patriot cause.

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