General John Burgoyne Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

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British general, politician and playwright John Burgoyne (1722-1792), nicknamed "Gentleman Johnny," served ably with the elite Coldstream Guards during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), fighting in Europe but not in the North American theater of war. During the American Revolution, he commanded the British Army invading New York from Canada, intending to link up with a force moving north from New York City to control the Hudson River and sever New England from the other colonies. Following defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, Burgoyne surrendered his army of 5,800 men to American General Gates on October 17, 1777. Encouraged by this American victory, France extended military aid to the colonists, and then joined the war. Burgoyne was harshly criticized at home, charged with overconfidence and ineptitude, although later histories have reallocated much blame to Generals Howe and Clinton, who failed to move swiftly up the Hudson to join him. Burgoyne was recalled to London, and never given another military command. A Member of Parliament since 1768, he subsequently devoted himself to play writing and to politics. Long a critic of the British East India Company, Burgoyne was one of the parliamentary managers in the corruption trial of Warren Hastings, previously the military commander and governor general of British India. Hastings was found not guilty after a 7-year trial, but Burgoyne did not live to know the outcome. He died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 3, 1792. The Duchess of Portland mentioned in this letter was the wife of William Cavendish-Bentinck, the Third Duke of Portland, a past and future Prime Minister. In the well-known alternate history novel For Want of a Nail, by Robert Sobel, Burgoyne wins at Saratoga, and goes on to become the Duke of Albany, Viceroy of the Confederation of North America.

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