The Revolutionary War and America’s Turning Point

Colonial Militiamen revolutionary war minutemen

Perhaps the greatest military victory in the history of America, the Battles of Saratoga are known as the “Turning Point,” and without those victories, there almost assuredly wouldn’t be the “Shining City on a Hill” that we cherish today. The beleaguered American forces desperately needed something – anything – to show it could stand and fight the British as it sought freedom and independence. The world was watching and in September and October of 1777, the men and women fighting for their lives in this new experiment got exactly what they needed.

American troops cut off British reinforcements and surrounded the red coats at Saratoga, forcing British Gen. John Burgoyne into surrender and giving American General Horatio Gates and his troops – and the entire country – the victory they so desperately needed. France saw the ragtag Americans could win, joined the war to fight against the globe’s greatest military power, and the rest is history.

I’m surrounded by reminders and relics of the Turning Point victory every day. I live just a few miles from Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights and the cornfields where the Battles of Saratoga were fought. The proximity gives extra meaning every time July 4th arrives and is a daily reminder that our country is populated – and has always been – with great men and women who will fight for freedom, liberty and God-given rights for all.

And along every step of the way, there has always been – and continues to be – a strong and dedicated firearm industry standing by.

Innovation Wins the War

The stories and history are well-known. Early American militias and gun owners relied on scraping together whatever firearms they could get their hands on. The vast number were imported and foreign made, including from Britian’s own “Brown Bess” muzzle-loading muskets as well as France’s Charleville muskets. But in America, necessity was the mother of innovation and firearms were commonly tweaked and altered to meet the specific needs of American militia.

That includes the rifles that would be utilized by Brigadier General Daniel Morgan at Saratoga. “Dan Morgan’s rifleman” were key to American victory, operating as long distance “snipers” and taking out British military leadership. One of Morgan’s young rifleman, Tim Murphy, is credited with using his accurate rifle to take out British General Simon Fraser at Bemis Heights, which reinvigorated the American troops to keep up their siege on Burgoyne.

Another commonly used firearm of the Revolution was the “Pennsylvania long rifle,” which was an American-designed firearm, based on earlier German firearms. In the new America, the Pennsylvania rifles were used by snipers and infantryman and gave the shooters increased accuracy and distance on the battlefield – up to 300 yards compared to about 100 yards for earlier designed smoothbore muskets.

The burgeoning American firearm industry was taking shape, and it couldn’t happen fast enough or at a better time. Yes, imported firearms were extremely common for Americans to own and use, but the new wave of innovation in the industry was cementing its effectiveness and necessity.

That Spirit Continues

From Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, the earliest federal producer of military firearms beginning in 1777, to Simeon North manufacturing his early rifles and pistols in Connecticut, to Eli Whitey’s Whitney Armory on Long Island Sound, and down throughout the other early colonies, American firearm manufacturers were integral to the success of the young and growing United States. That innovative spirit and connective tissue has continued throughout the generations to today.

The firearm industry today, though its geographic footprint has shifted, employs more hardworking Americans than ever before. More than 380,000 men and women go to work every day to manufacture the highest-quality and reliable firearms that are used by millions of law-abiding Americans each and every day for recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense. That includes more than 22 million new first-time gun owners in America since 2020. That’s the same as the population of Florida and for those new gun buyers, July 4th might just have a new meaning to them too.

It doesn’t take living near a historic Revolutionary battlefield to be passionate about the Founding Fathers, the greatness of the country that was formed nearly 250 ago or her exceptionalism still today. That spirit is spread throughout the country amongst communities from sea to shining sea. The firearm industry is proudly interwoven within it and will celebrate America on Independence Day, and each and every day as well.


Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

2 Responses

  1. All those weapons meant absolutely nothing without the desire, willingness and courage those patriots had to stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of a superior force and declare We are Free Men and will not allow tyranny to win the day. In our time we face the no less than the same tyranny not from a foreign nation 4000 miles away, but in our own nation by a force no less bent on the destruction of our freedoms and liberty. The only difference is in the desire, willingness and courage to stand up and say, “We are Free Men/Women and will not allow tyranny to win the day. Even with the 100s millions of weapons at our disposal.

  2. Happy 4th of July Everyone.
    Just like the Patriots stood against the Crown we can stand against the F16s etc we have been threatened with.

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