Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery (2010)
Gates decided to organize his army in a defensive posture in order to face the slowly advancing British forces under General John Burgoyne. While Gates was doing so, more-and-more soldiers showed up at camp, bolstering the Northern Army. Until this point, Gates and Arnold had got along okay; but then Arnold discovered that Gates didn't mention Arnold in his dispatches about Fort Stanwix . . . and Arnold offended Gates by populating his staff with Schuyler loyalists.
The main division between the two concerned their strategies of the upcoming battle at Saratoga. Gates didn't think that Arnold's recklessness was needed . . . he wanted the British to smash themselves against his defenses. As always, Arnold preferred the offensive, and since Daniel Morgan and his men were also at Saratoga, Arnold wanted to attack Burgoyne and disrupt their plans/formations and create chaos . . . chaos that would lead to victory and glory for Arnold.
Arnold urged Gates to not let the British get any closer; finally, mostly to just get Arnold away from him, Gates told Arnold to take 2000+ men and head to the battle. Arnold led his men to the fighting, and after being repulsed on his first charge, Morgan and his snipers started picking off British officers. The Americans and British went back-and-forth all afternoon; many later thought the fighting featured the most intense artillery/musket exchanges of the entire Revolutionary War.
Arnold sensed that victory was near, and asked Gates for reinforcements. Gates refused to do so, saying it was too risky; Arnold personally asked Gates to reconsider, and Gates still refused. Arnold continued to plead his case, and finally Gates sent 300+ men back with Arnold. Arnold told those near him that he would end the battle, but Gates heard his boast, and recalled Arnold to camp . . . Arnold heard the last sounds of battle that day standing just outside his tent.
At the same time, Gates was satisfied with his defensive strategy, and he made sure that his lines were more stout, since Burgoyne had lost many more men, and many of his best officers. Gates concluded that Burgoyne would have to attack with his weakened army, or head back to Canada; for Gates, it was all wine-and-roses at this point of the battle. True, Burgoyne was in a dangerous position, but he was expecting help. General Howe was supposed to head north from New York City, and General Barry St. Leger was to come in from the west. But Arnold had forced St. Leger to alter his plans at Fort Stanwix, and Howe chose instead to take Philadelphia, in part due to his hatred of Burgoyne, whom he outranked.
None of what Gates did to Arnold made any military sense, but Gates was concerned that Arnold may do something stupid and reckless that may lead to defeat . . . his defeat. Or, perhaps worse yet, Arnold may do something crazy to win the battle and deny Gates his glory. Arnold confronted Gates, and Gates expertly needled Arnold to the point where Arnold demanded to join Washington in Pennsylvania.
Gates gladly wrote the pass for Arnold, but Arnold remained at Saratoga, and then raved when Major General Benjamin Lincoln (one of the five original major generals selected by Congress, and who Arnold actually out-ranked at that point) took command of his men. Gates told Arnold that if he interfered again he would be arrested . . . it was awkward for Arnold to remain, but he just couldn't leave the Battle of Saratoga.
Arnold couldn't stand the situation any longer, and he mounted a horse and rode around the camp, then he spurred his horse towards the sound of the battle, shouting "Victory or Death" . . . Gates ordered Arnold to be brought back to camp. Soldiers cheered when they saw Arnold heading their way, and cheered even louder when Arnold took command on the field. The men had no idea that Arnold did so without the authority of General Horatio Gates.
Arnold then led charges on that position, until he felt a musket ball slice through his left leg, and the leg splintered under the weight of his falling horse. Arnold ordered his men to continue the charge, and from the ground, with his left leg shattered, he saw the decisive victory come to pass that he had longed for during the last three years (during the fighting on 7 October, British General Simon Fraser was shot and killed; he had kept the British focused, organized, and inspired . . . it was possible that Arnold was targeted as a result of Fraser's death).
Arnold was not only shot in the left leg, but he also had a very serious compound fracture. Arnold refused to have the leg amputated, and his leg was put in a "fracture box", which was a tight wooden frame around his entire leg (a device that was still in use during the Civil War). Arnold was told by doctors that he would be bedridden on his back for several months. It was in this condition that Arnold followed the news from Saratoga. Burgoyne was outnumbered 3:1 by Gates, and surprisingly, Gates took the initiative, and attacked Burgoyne as he was retreating to Canada. On 17 October 1777, Burgoyne surrendered his 6000+ British and Hessian soldiers to Gates . . . it was by far the biggest event yet in the Revolutionary War.
Congress, like Gates, was silent about Arnold's role at Saratoga. In mid-January 1778, Washington sent Arnold a letter of congratulations, and inquired about his health and his ability to return to duty. Arnold had muscle damage so severe in his left leg that they shrank as they healed, leaving his left leg two inches shorter than his right . . . his doctors didn't think that Arnold would ever walk again . . . or would even want to walk again. Up to this point in time, Arnold was always able to redouble his efforts and try again to achieve the glory that kept eluding him. But in his current physical and mental state, he didn't think there would ever be a "next time" . . . the seeds for treason were sown . . .