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Lot 1025: Jean Burgoyne

American Revolutionary War Collection of Richard Newell

by RR Auction

December 15, 2012

Amherst, NH, USA

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  • Jean Burgoyne
  • Jean Burgoyne
  • Jean Burgoyne
  • Jean Burgoyne
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Description: British Major General who led the 1777 expedition from Canada that ended in his surrender at Saratoga: the pivotal American victory that convinced France to become an ally of the United States. Important war-dated LS, signed "J. Burgoyne Lt. Genl.," three pages on two 7.25 x 8.75 sheets, March 20, 1778, Cambridge, [Massachusetts]. Written to Captain [Hew] Dalrymple commanding the frigate Juno advising him that the Continental Congress had granted him a parole for himself and his family to return to Great Britain after his surrender at Saratoga. Burgoyne also makes arrangements for British transports, laden with provisions for the British prisoners-of-war taken at Saratoga encamped near Cambridge, Massachusetts, to approach Boston under a flag of truce. He also makes two references to a "military chest" and, in a postscript "chest of cash" that was to be sent aboard those transports-an article he had officially agreed in the terms of his surrender to turn over to the United States.In full, "My Aide de Camp returned yesterday with the leave of Congress for my self and my family to return to England. I propose to have the pleasure of kissing your hands on board the Juno as soon as the necessary business here can be dispatched. The Congress having thought proper to adhere to the Resolve of the 8th of January respecting the suspension of the Convention, and consequently it must be some months before the matter can be decided. I think it would be [a]greably[?] for the economy of Government to land all the provisions destined for the troops from on board the transports under your command. General Heath will send you herewith an engagement of protection for the said transports to come into Nantasket road [near Hull, Massachusetts], and I request you to make no delay in forwarding that measure. General Heath will also engage for the safe conveyance of the military Chest, which I understand is on board you[rs], and I request you to forward it by a Lieutenant and in a safe vessel which General Heath will furnish. If you were induced to bring the Juno, higher up there will be no difficulty in procuring a parole for her protection, but if it is equal to you I have no manner of objection to going on board while you are in Cape Cod Harbour, and upon the whole rather prefer it as I think it may save time." A short postscript adds, "The vessel sent by General Heath will proceed no further than Nantasket Road, you will therefore send the Chest of Cash on board one of the Transports." In clean, fine condition, with unobtrusive intersecting folds and a trivial thin strip of old mounting remnants along the extreme left edge of the first page. Burgoyne's rare signature is very clear and bold.When Burgoyne capitulated at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, he did not technically 'surrender.' Rather, General Horatio Gates agreed to a 'convention,' in which the British would lay down their arms but instead of remaining in America as prisoners, he and his army would be allowed to return to Europe on a parole guaranteeing they would never return to fight in the conflict. Burgoyne and his army marched under guard to Boston where they were to await transports to return them to Great Britain. Soon thereafter, both sides began to bicker over terms. On January 8, 1778, Congress resolved to suspended the convention, citing a number of breeches of its articles by Burgoyne. (Congress, Journals)On March 3, 1778, the Continental Congress resolved, 'That Lieutenant General Burgoyne, on account of his ill state of health, have leave to embark for England by Rhode Island, or any more expeditious route, with the officers of his family and his servants; that General Heath furnish the necessary passports, accepting a parole from Lieutenant General Burgoyne, Lieutenant Colonel Kingston, and Dr. Wood, that should the embarkation of the troops of the convention of Saratoga be by any means prolonged beyond the time apprehended, those officers will return to America, upon demand and due notice given, and will re-deliver themselves into the power of Congress, unless regularly exchanged.' (Congress, Journals)Congress never authorized the return of the remaining troops during the course of the conflict, fearing that returning those soldiers would simply enable Great Britain to send others in their place. The "Convention Army" (as it became known) remained encamped in Cambridge until 1779, when it was transferred to Virginia where it spent the remainder of the war. Over the years, a good number escaped their confinement-quite a number of whom remained in the United States after the war. Here, Burgoyne arranges for supplies to be delivered from the British headquarters in New York for his captive army. Interestingly, he also makes arrangements for shipping home his "military chest": literally a mobile chest of drawers containing the army's money, accounts, and other vital documents. The term was also used to simply refer to a stash of hard money used to finance an army's campaign. (In the postscript, Burgoyne refers to it as a "chest of cash.") In the surrender negotiations, Horatio Gates agreed to Burgoyne's insistence that he retain his colors, accoutrements and military chest-much to the consternation of Congress. As early as November 22, 1777, a congressional committee complained about the lenient terms given to Burgoyne: 'there is no mention in the said return of standards, military chest, medicines, or tents...' (Congress, Journals). General Horatio Gates explained the chest's absence to Henry Laurens on December 3, 1777, explaining "From the best Accounts the Enemy's Army had been lately cleared Off; so that it is not probable there was any Military Chest." (Laurens, Papers, Nov. 1, 1777 - Mar. 15, 1778, 126) The subject arose several more times in Congress' deliberations in late 1777 and early 1778, but Congress never got their hands on it, and Burgyone was able to go home with his money (and his colors) intact.Burgoyne departed for England a month later in mid-April 1777, embarking from Newport, Rhode Island and arriving at Portsmouth on May 13.* Widely-blamed for the fiasco, upon his return, he was deprived of his regiment among other official humiliations. Burgoyne fought for some time for a trial in an effort to clear his name, but it was never granted. Historians have been more kind to Burgoyne than contemporary public opinion in England, sifting the blame towards Lord German who was responsible for overall strategy in the Campaign of 1777. Instead of insisting that Howe support Burgoyne's expedition from the south, Germain left him free to mount an attack on Philadelphia which placed Burgoyne in his predicament at Saratoga. ___________________*Although some sources claim that Burgoyne departed on April 20, 1778, aboard the frigate Juno (Fonblanque, 333), others note that Burgoyne sailed from Newport aboard the sloop Grampus ("A Diary of the Revolution kept at Newport, April 14, 1778). A newsletter from Portsmouth recorded on May 13 records, "This morning arrived the Grumpus sloop of war form Rhode Island, from which ship Gen. Burgoyne landed about twelve o'clock (See Hadden, A Journal Kept In Canada And Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1775 and 1777, 403.)

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