BUT BACK TO
FIGHT. . .
The following is a fictional interview conducted by G.N.D with General John Burgoyne "Gentleman Johnny" in the fall of 1778.
Q. "Tell us briefly who you are please?"
A. "I am a General in the British Army headed for Albany, New York in the Northern Campaign of the Revolutionary War that occurred from mid-June to mid-October of 1777 and ended with my surrender to the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga."
Q. "What did you do on the way to Albany?"
A. "I pressed on through Saratoga, passed the American positions at Stillwater and on September 19, divided my army into three divisions and deployed them for an attack on Gatesí forces. It was 11:00 A.M. before I was ready to attack. Simon Frasier was to attack on the right toward Freemanís farm. The center was to move southwest to join Frasier. Baron von Riedesel commanded the left and was to take the river road."
Q. "What happened after the forces started out?"
A. "It was a disaster because the terrain was so heavily wooded with gullies, ditches, and mounds of soil that our classical battle maneuvers were impossible. Even more disastrous was the fact that the Americans to the astonishment of all, returned again to the battle. I kept my army busy building fortifications in anticipation of an American counter attack on my forces. Sharpshooters were attacking us and our situation was bad."
Q. "Where were the other British forces to help you?"
A. "I received a message from Sir Henry Clinton a few days after the battle of Freemanís farm. I was informed that Clinton intended to attack the forts guarding the Hudson River in approximately ten days. If he was successful, British warships and supply ships could then sail up the Hudson to Albany and either meet me there or send a force to relieve me. It was my only hope and provided incentive for myself and my men to think we had not been beaten."
Q. "Did you get help?"
A. "No. The Americans cut off my supply line from Canada and by October 7th, my food supplies were so low that I had to make one final effort to break through American lines to get to Albany or my food supply would be gone and my army would starve."
Q. "Did you ever consider a retreat?"
A. "Yes. I did consider it, but to retreat would be to lose all that we had fought for and won so far. Also, it would have not allowed me to ever meet Sir Henry Clinton when it seemed it was possible, and with my retreat the whole American army would have been able to focus on him and he would surely be beaten."
Q. "Were you successful?"
A. "I moved off late in the morning of October 7. I hoped to scatter and confuse the Americans. My late start took away the element of surprise. Before I could even get my plan started, five American regiments accompanied by Benedict Arnold, launched a heavy attack on my right. Before the Germans in the center could be shifted to support our right, they were under attack themselves. The American attack was so sudden and so well-sustained the entire British front began to give way and I gave the order to withdraw the main forces. The pressure of the Americans was constant. We had little notion of how to cope with our terrain. Our units became separated."
Q. "How did the battle end?"
A. "After finally crossing the Fishkill River, my last hope was to lure the Americans into an assault on my lines and inflict heavy damage on them. So I sent a double agent to tell the American leader, General Gage, I had started for fort Edward. It almost worked, but a deserting soldier told the Americans I was waiting for them."
Q. "Did you then surrender?"
A. "Yes. On October 12, the British Officers, our staff and I agreed the only possible course was surrender my 5,700 men which included Iroquois Indian allies. At first the Americans wanted us to surrender unconditionally, but we thought it would be cowardly to do so. Afterward, we agreed on the terms of surrender. Our troops were allowed to march out of camp with the honors of war and were permitted free passage to Great Britain if they pledged never to again be employed in the American war."
Q. "What happened to you after the battle?"
A. "After the battle, I returned to England in April, 1778. I demanded a court-martial to clear my reputation, but to no avail. I appeared before Parliament and gave a long emotional defense of my conduct and published a book containing an account of my downfall. I never received another command".
Q. "At this time, are you aware of any other country aiding the Americans?"
A. "Yes. There was rumor France had negotiated terms by which it would become an ally for the colonists."
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