|Born||24 February 1722|
Sutton, Bedfordshire, Great Britain
|Died||4 August 1792 70) (aged|
Mayfair, London, Great Britain
|Years of service||1743–1784|
|Commands held||Commander-in-Chief, Ireland|
|Awards||Privy Council of Great Britain|
|Other work||Member of the House of Commons of Parliament|
General John Burgoyne (24 February 1722 – 4 August 1792) was a British general, dramatist and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1761 to 1792. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, most notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762.
Burgoyne is best known for his role in the American Revolutionary War. He designed an invasion scheme and was appointed to command a force moving south from Canada to split away New England and end the rebellion. Burgoyne advanced from Canada but his slow movement allowed the Americans to concentrate their forces. Instead of coming to his aid according to the overall plan, the British Army in New York City moved south to capture Philadelphia. Burgoyne fought two small battles near Saratoga but was surrounded by American forces and, with no relief in sight, surrendered his entire army of 6,200 men on 17 October 1777. His surrender, says historian Edmund Morgan, "was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory."France had been supplying the North American colonists since the spring of 1776. Burgoyne and his officers returned to England; the enlisted men became prisoners of war. Burgoyne came under sharp criticism when he returned to London, and never held another active command.
Burgoyne was also an accomplished playwright, known for his works such as The Maid of the Oaks and The Heiress , but his plays never reached the fame of his military career. He served as a member of the House of Commons for many years, sitting for the seats of Midhurst and Preston.
John Burgoyne was born in Sutton, Bedfordshire on 24 February 1722, son of Army officer Captain John Burgoyne (died 1768; son of Sir John Burgoyne, 3rd Baronet), of Sherbourne, Warwickshire,and Anna Maria, daughter of Charles Burneston, a wealthy Hackney merchant. There were rumours that Burgoyne was in fact the illegitimate son of Lord Bingley, who was his godfather. When Bingley died in 1731, his will specified that Burgoyne was to inherit his estate if his daughters had no male issue.
From the age of 10, Burgoyne attended the prestigious Westminster School, as did many British army officers of the time such as Thomas Gage, with whom Burgoyne would later serve.Burgoyne was athletic and outgoing and enjoyed life at the school where he made numerous important friends, in particular Lord James Strange. In August 1737, Burgoyne purchased a commission in the Horse Guards, a fashionable cavalry regiment. They were stationed in London and his duties were light, allowing him to cut a figure in high society. He soon acquired the nickname "Gentleman Johnny" and became well known for his stylish uniforms and general high living which saw him run up large debts. In 1741 Burgoyne sold his commission, possibly to settle gambling debts.
The outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession led to an expansion in the size of the British Army. In April 1745, Burgoyne joined the newly raised 1st Royal Dragoons as a cornet, a commission he did not have to pay for as it was newly created.In April 1745, he was promoted to lieutenant. In 1747, Burgoyne managed to scrape the money together to purchase a captaincy. The end of the war in 1748 cut off any prospect of further active service.
Through his friendship with Lord Strange, Burgoyne came to know Strange's sister, Lady Charlotte Stanley, the daughter of Lord Derby, one of Britain's leading politicians. After Derby refused permission for Burgoyne to marry Charlotte, they eloped together and married without his permission in April 1751.An outraged Derby cut his daughter off without a penny. Unable to support his wife otherwise, Burgoyne again sold his commission, raising £2,600, which they lived off for the next few years.
In October 1751, Burgoyne and his new wife went to live in continental Europe travelling through France and Italy. While in France, Burgoyne met and befriended the Duc de Choiseul who would later become the Foreign Minister and directed French policy during the Seven Years War. While in Rome, Burgoyne had his portrait painted by the British artist Allan Ramsay.In late 1754, Burgoyne's wife gave birth to a daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, who was to prove to be the couple's only child. In the hope that a granddaughter would soften Derby's opposition to their marriage, the Burgoynes returned to Britain in 1755. Lord Strange interceded on their behalf with Derby, who soon changed his mind and accepted them back into the family. Burgoyne soon became a favourite of Derby, who used his influence to boost Burgoyne's prospects.
A month after the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, Burgoyne bought a commission in the 11th Dragoons. In 1758, he became captain and lieutenant-colonel in the Coldstream Guards.
In 1758, he participated in several expeditions against the French coast. During this period he was instrumental in introducing light cavalry into the British Army. The two regiments then formed were commanded by George Augustus Eliott (afterwards Lord Heathfield) and Burgoyne. This was a revolutionary step, and Burgoyne was a pioneer in the early development of British light cavalry. Burgoyne admired independent thought amongst common soldiers, and encouraged his men to use their own initiative, in stark contrast to the established system employed at the time by the British army.
In 1761, he sat in parliament for Midhurst,and in the following year he served as a brigadier-general in Portugal which had just entered the war. Burgoyne won particular distinction by leading his cavalry in the capture of Valencia de Alcántara and of Vila Velha de Ródão following the Battle of Valencia de Alcántara, compensating for the Portuguese loss of Almeida. This played a major part in repulsing a large Spanish force bent on invading Portugal.
In 1768, he was elected to the House of Commons for Preston, and for the next few years he occupied himself chiefly with his parliamentary duties, in which he was remarkable for his general outspokenness and, in particular, for his attacks on Lord Clive, who was at the time considered the nation's leading soldier. He achieved prominence in 1772 by demanding an investigation of the East India Company alleging widespread corruption by its officials.At the same time, he devoted much attention to art and drama (his first play, The Maid of the Oaks , was produced by David Garrick in 1775).
In the army, he had been promoted to major-general. At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he was appointed to a command, and arrived in Boston in May 1775, a few weeks after the first shots of the war had been fired. He participated as part of the garrison during the Siege of Boston, although he did not see action at the Battle of Bunker Hill, in which the British forces were led by William Howe and Henry Clinton. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities, he returned to England long before the rest of the garrison, which evacuated the city in March 1776.
In 1776, he was at the head of the British reinforcements that sailed up the Saint Lawrence River and relieved Quebec City, which was under siege by the Continental Army. He led forces under General Guy Carleton in the drive that chased the Continental Army from the province of Quebec. Carleton then led the British forces onto Lake Champlain, but was, in Burgoyne's opinion, insufficiently bold when he failed to attempt the capture of Fort Ticonderoga after winning the naval Battle of Valcour Island in October.
The following year, having convinced King George III and his government of Carleton's faults, Burgoyne was given command of the British forces charged with gaining control of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River valley. The plan, largely of his own creation, was for Burgoyne and his force to cross Lake Champlain from Quebec and capture Ticonderoga before advancing on Albany, New York, where they would rendezvous with another British army under General Howe coming north from New York City, and a smaller force that would come down the Mohawk River valley under Barry St. Leger. This would divide New England from the southern colonies, and, it was believed, make it easier to end the rebellion.
From the beginning, Burgoyne was vastly overconfident.[ citation needed ] Leading what he believed was an overwhelming force, he saw the campaign[ citation needed ] largely as a stroll that would make him a national hero who had saved the rebel colonies for the crown. Before leaving London, he had wagered Charles James Fox 10 pounds that he would return victorious within a year.[ citation needed ] He refused to heed more cautious voices, both British and American, that suggested a successful campaign using the route he proposed was impossible, as the failed attempt the previous year had shown.
Underlining the plan was the belief that Burgoyne's aggressive thrust from Quebec would be aided by the movements of two other large British forces under Generals Howe and Clinton, who would support the advance. However, Lord Germain's orders dispatched from London were not clear on this point, with the effect that Howe took no action to support Burgoyne, and Clinton moved from New York too late and in too little strength to be any great help to Burgoyne.
As a result of this miscommunication, Burgoyne ended up conducting the campaign single-handedly. He was not yet aware that he would not be gaining additional support, and was still reasonably confident of success. Having amassed an army of over 7,000 troops in Quebec, Burgoyne was also led to believe by reports that he could rely on the support of large numbers of Native Americans and American Loyalists who would rally to the flag once the British came south. Even if the countryside was not as pro-British as expected, much of the area between Lake Champlain and Albany was underpopulated anyway, and Burgoyne was skeptical any major enemy force could gather there.
The campaign was initially successful. Burgoyne gained possession of the vital outposts of Fort Ticonderoga (for which he was made a lieutenant general) and Fort Edward, but, pushing on, decided to break his communications with Quebec, and was eventually hemmed in by a superior force led by American Major General Horatio Gates. Several attempts to break through the enemy lines were repulsed at Saratoga in September and October 1777. Benedict Arnold played a significant role in those battles. His aide-de-camp Sir Francis Clerke was killed on 15 October.On 17 October 1777, Burgoyne surrendered his entire army, numbering 5,800. This was the greatest victory the American forces had up to that point in the Revolutionary War, and it proved to be the turning point in the war, as France entered into an alliance with the American Patriots.
Rather than an outright unconditional surrender, Burgoyne had agreed to a convention that involved his men surrendering their weapons, and returning to Europe with a pledge not to return to North America. Burgoyne had been most insistent on this point, even suggesting he would try to fight his way back to Quebec if it was not agreed. Soon afterwards the Continental Congress repudiated the treaty and imprisoned the remnants of the army in Massachusetts and Virginia, where they were sometimes maltreated. This was widely seen as revenge for the poor treatment that prisoners-of-war of the Continental Army had received while imprisoned.
Following Saratoga, the indignation in Britain against Burgoyne was great. He returned at once, with the leave of the American general, to defend his conduct and demanded but never obtained a trial. He was deprived of his regiment and the governorship of Fort William in Scotland, which he had held since 1769. Following the defeat, France recognised the United States and entered the war on 6 February 1778, transforming it into a global conflict.
Although Burgoyne at the time was widely held to blame for the defeat, historians have over the years shifted responsibility for the disaster at Saratoga to Lord Germain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Germain had overseen the overall strategy for the campaign and had significantly neglected to order General Howe to support Burgoyne's invasion, instead leaving him to believe that he was free to launch his own attack on Philadelphia.
Previously Burgoyne had been a Tory-leaning supporter of the North government but following his return from Saratoga he began to associate with the Rockingham Whigs. In 1782 when his political friends came into office, Burgoyne was restored to his rank, given the colonelcy of the King's Own Royal Regiment, made commander-in-chief in Ireland and appointed a privy councillor. After the fall of the Rockingham government in 1783, Burgoyne withdrew more and more into private life. His last public service was his participation in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings.He died quite unexpectedly on 4 August 1792 at his home in Mayfair, after having been seen the previous night at the theatre in apparent good health. Burgoyne is buried in Westminster Abbey, in the North Walk of the Cloisters.
After the death of his wife in 1776, Burgoyne had four children by his mistress Susan Caulfield; one was Field Marshal John Fox Burgoyne, father of Hugh Talbot Burgoyne, VC.
In his time Burgoyne was a notable playwright, writing a number of popular plays. The most notable were The Maid of the Oaks (1774)and The Heiress (1786). He assisted Richard Brinsley Sheridan in his production of The Camp , which he may have co-authored. He also wrote the libretto for William Jackson's only successful opera The Lord of the Manor (1780). He also wrote a translated semi-opera version of Michel-Jean Sedaine's work Richard Coeur de lion with music by Thomas Linley the elder for the Drury Lane Theatre where it was very successful in 1788. Had it not been for his role in the American War of Independence, Burgoyne would most likely be foremost remembered today as a dramatist.
Burgoyne has often been portrayed by historians and commentators as a classic example of the marginally competent aristocratic British general who acquired his rank through political connections rather than ability.Despite this, accounts of those that served under him, particularly that of Corporal Roger Lamb, noted that Burgoyne 'shunned no danger; his presence and conduct animated the troops (for they greatly loved their general)'. Accounts of the lavish lifestyle he maintained on the Saratoga campaign, combined with a gentlemanly bearing and his career as a playwright led less-than-friendly contemporaries to caricature him, as historian George Billias writes, "a buffoon in uniform who bungled his assignments badly". Much of the historical record, Billias notes, is based upon these characterisations. Billias opines that Burgoyne was a ruthless and risk-taking general with a keen perception of his opponents, and also a perceptive social and political commentator.
Burgoyne has made appearances as a character in historical and alternative history fiction. He appears as a character in George Bernard Shaw's play The Devil's Disciple and its 1959 and 1987 film adaptions, portrayed by Laurence Olivier and Ian Richardson respectively. Historical novels by Chris Humphreys that are set during the Saratoga campaign also feature him, while alternate or mystical history versions of his campaign are featured in For Want of a Nail by Robert Sobel and the 1975 CBS Radio Mystery Theater play "Windandingo".[ citation needed ]
The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, part of the Saratoga campaign, that took place on August 16, 1777, on a farm owned by John Green in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles (16 km) from its namesake, Bennington, Vermont. A rebel force of 2,000 men, primarily New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen, led by General John Stark, and reinforced by Vermont militiamen led by Colonel Seth Warner and members of the Green Mountain Boys, decisively defeated a detachment of General John Burgoyne's army led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, and supported by additional men under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann.
Fort Ticonderoga, formerly Fort Carillon, is a large 18th-century star fort built by the French at a narrows near the south end of Lake Champlain, in northern New York, in the United States. It was constructed by Canadian-born French military engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière between October 1755 and 1757, during the action in the "North American theater" of the Seven Years' War, often referred to in the US as the French and Indian War. The fort was of strategic importance during the 18th-century colonial conflicts between Great Britain and France, and again played an important role during the Revolutionary War.
The Battles of Saratoga marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War. British General John Burgoyne led an invasion army of 7,200–8,000 men southward from Canada in the Champlain Valley, hoping to meet a similar British force marching northward from New York City and another British force marching eastward from Lake Ontario; the goal was to take Albany, New York. The southern and western forces never arrived, and Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in upstate New York 15 miles (24 km) short of his goal. He fought two battles which took place 18 days apart on the same ground 9 miles (14 km) south of Saratoga, New York. He gained a victory in the first battle despite being outnumbered, but lost the second battle after the Americans returned with an even larger force.
The Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, was a naval engagement that took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island. The battle is generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the first fought by the United States Navy. Most of the ships in the American fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold were captured or destroyed by a British force under the overall direction of General Guy Carleton. However, the American defense of Lake Champlain stalled British plans to reach the upper Hudson River valley.
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB PC was a British Army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British land forces in the Colonies during the American War of Independence. Howe was one of three brothers who had distinguished military careers. In historiography of the American war he is usually referred to as Sir William Howe to distinguish him from his brother Richard, who was 4th Viscount Howe at that time.
General Sir Henry Clinton, KB was a British Army officer and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1772 and 1795. He is best known for his service as a general during the American War of Independence. First arriving in Boston in May 1775, from 1778 to 1782 he was the British Commander-in-Chief in North America. In addition to his military service, due to the influence of his cousin Henry Pelham-Clinton, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, he was a Member of Parliament for many years. Late in life he was named Governor of Gibraltar, but died before assuming the post.
Horatio Lloyd Gates was a British-born American army officer who served as a general in the Continental Army during the early years of the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga (1777) – a matter of contemporary and historical controversy – and was blamed for the defeat at the Battle of Camden in 1780. Gates has been described as "one of the Revolution's most controversial military figures" because of his role in the Conway Cabal, which attempted to discredit and replace General George Washington; the battle at Saratoga; and his actions during and after his defeat at Camden.
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, known between 1776 and 1786 as Sir Guy Carleton, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and administrator. He twice served as Governor of the Province of Quebec, from 1768 to 1778, concurrently serving as Governor General of British North America in that time, and again from 1785 to 1795. The title Baron Dorchester was created on 21 August 1786.
The Saratoga campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British high command for North America to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley during the American Revolutionary War. It ended in the surrender of the British army, which historian Edmund Morgan argues, "was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory."
The Invasion of Quebec was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The objective of the campaign was to seize the Province of Quebec from Great Britain, and persuade French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. One expedition left Fort Ticonderoga under Richard Montgomery, besieged and captured Fort St. Johns, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton when taking Montreal. The other expedition, under Benedict Arnold, left Cambridge, Massachusetts and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec City. The two forces joined there, but they were defeated at the Battle of Quebec in December 1775.
The capture of Fort Ticonderoga occurred during the American Revolutionary War on May 10, 1775, when a small force of Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold surprised and captured the fort's small British garrison. The cannons and other armaments at Fort Ticonderoga were later transported to Boston by Colonel Henry Knox in the noble train of artillery and used to fortify Dorchester Heights and break the standoff at the siege of Boston.
Barrimore Matthew "Barry" St. Leger was a British Army officer. St. Leger was active in the Saratoga Campaign, commanding an invasion force that unsuccessfully besieged Fort Stanwix. St. Leger remained on the frontier for the duration of the war; after its conclusion, he served briefly as commander of British forces in Quebec.
The 1777 Siege of Fort Ticonderoga occurred between the 2nd and 6 July 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga, near the southern end of Lake Champlain in the state of New York. Lieutenant General John Burgoyne's 8,000-man army occupied high ground above the fort, and nearly surrounded the defenses. These movements precipitated the occupying Continental Army, an under-strength force of 3,000 under the command of General Arthur St. Clair, to withdraw from Ticonderoga and the surrounding defenses. Some gunfire was exchanged, and there were some casualties, but there was no formal siege and no pitched battle. Burgoyne's army occupied Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, the extensive fortifications on the Vermont side of the lake, without opposition on 6 July. Advance units pursued the retreating Americans.
The New York and New Jersey campaign in 1776 and the winter months of 1777 was a series of American Revolutionary War battles for control of the Port of New York and the state of New Jersey, fought between British forces under General Sir William Howe and the Continental Army under General George Washington. Howe was successful in driving Washington out of New York, but overextended his reach into New Jersey, and ended the active campaign season in January 1777 with only a few outposts near the city. The British held New York Harbor for the rest of the war, using it as a base for expeditions against other targets.
The Battle of Pell's Point, also known as the Battle of Pelham, was a skirmish fought between British and American troops during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The conflict took place in what is now part of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, New York City and the towns of Pelham Manor and Pelham in Westchester County, New York.
The Philadelphia campaign (1777–1778) was a British effort in the American Revolutionary War to gain control of Philadelphia, which was then the seat of the Second Continental Congress. British General William Howe, after failing to draw the Continental Army under General George Washington into a battle in northern New Jersey, embarked his army on transports, and landed them at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay. From there, he advanced northward toward Philadelphia. Washington prepared defenses against Howe's movements at Brandywine Creek, but was flanked and beaten back in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. After further skirmishes and maneuvers, Howe entered and occupied Philadelphia. Washington then unsuccessfully attacked one of Howe's garrisons at Germantown before retreating to Valley Forge for the winter.
The Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery was an American Revolutionary War battle fought in the Hudson Highlands of the Hudson River valley, not far from West Point, on October 6, 1777. British forces under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton captured Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery and then dismantled the first iteration of the Hudson River Chains. The purpose of the attack was to create a diversion to draw American troops from the army of General Horatio Gates, whose army was opposing British General John Burgoyne's attempt to gain control of the Hudson.
The Surrender of General Burgoyne is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1821 and hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.
The British Army during the American Revolutionary War served for eight years in campaigns fought around the globe. Defeat at the Siege of Yorktown to a combined Franco-US force ultimately led to the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in eastern North America, and the concluding Treaty of Paris deprived Britain of many of the gains achieved in the Seven Years' War. However several victories elsewhere meant that much of the remaining British Empire remained intact.
Philip Wharton Skene was a Scottish officer in the British army, New York state "patroon", and a figure in the Saratoga campaign of the American Revolution.