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General John Burgoyne's Proclamation
Issued at the
Camp at Bouquet Ferry
June 20th, 1777

transcribed by James P. Millard from

Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books: A Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1776 and 1777, by Lieut. James M. Hadden, Roy. Art 1

                          Gen. John Burgoyne

Ed. note: The following proclamation was issued by Burgoyne as his forces were encamped at the Bouquet enroute up Lake Champlain towards the Fort Ticonderoga/Mt. Independence complex and eventually, Saratoga. It is typical Burgoyne style, full of bluster and grandiose speech. It was received with much derision by the Americans, who especially criticized Burgoyne's threatening of them with "the Indian forces under my direction..." William Digby records a mocking, sardonic reply from the Americans in his journal, dated July 10, and delivered to Burgoyne a few days later. You can read the reply here. [jpm]

By John Burgoyne Esq'r; Lieut Gen'l of His Majesties Armies in America, Col. of the Queens Reg't of Lt. Dragoons, Governor of Fort William in North Britain, one of the Representatives of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament, and Commanding an Army and Fleet employed on an expedition from Canada &c &c &c.

The forces entrusted to my command are designed to act in concert, and upon a common principle, with the numerous Armies and Fleets which already display in every quarter of America, the power, the justice, and when properly sought the mercy of the King. The cause in which the British Arms are thus exerted applies to the most affecting interests of the human heart; and the military Servants of the Crown, at first called forth for the sole purpose of restoring the rights of constitution, now combine with love of their Country, and duty to their Sovereign, the other extensive incitements which spring from a due sense of the general privileges of Mankind. To the Eyes and Ears of the temperate part of the Public, and to the breasts of suffering Thousands in the Provinces, be the melancholy appeal whether the present unnatural Rebellion has not been made for a foundation for the completest system of Tyranny that ever God in his displeasure suffer'd for a time to be exercised over a froward and stubborn Generation.

Arbitrary imprisonment, confiscation of property, persecution and torture, unprecedented in the inquisitions of the Romish Church are among the palpable enormities that verify the affirmative. These are inflicted, (by the Assemblies & Committees who dare to profess themselves friends to Liberty,) upon the most quiet Subjects, without distinction of age or Sex, for the sole crime, often for the sole suspicion, of having adhered in principle to the Government under which they were born, and to which by every tye divine and human they owe allegiance. To consummate these shocking proceedings the profanation of Religion is added to the most profligate prostitution of common reason, the consciences of Men are set at naught and multitudes are compelled not only to Arms, but also to swear subjection to an usurpation they abhor.

Animated by these considerations; at the head of Troops in full powers of health, discipline, and Valour; determined to strike where necessary, and anxious to spare where possible, I by these presents invite and exhort all persons, in all places where the progress of this  Army may point- and by the blessing of God I will extend it far- to maintain such a conduct as may justify me in protecting their Lands, habitations, and Families.

The intention of this address is to hold forth security not depredation to the Country. To those whom spirrit and principle may induce to partake the glorious task of redeeming their Countrymen from Dungeons, and reistablishing the blessings of legal Government I offer encouragement and employment; and upon the first intelligence of their associations I will find means to assist their undertakings. The domestick, the industrious, the infirm, and even the timid inhabitants I am desirous to protect provided they remain quietly in their houses, that they do not suffer their Cattle to be removed, nor their Corn or forage to be secreted or destroyed, that they do not break up their Bridges or Roads; nor by any other acts directly or indirectly endeavour to obstruct the operations of the Kings Troops, or supply or assist those of the Enemy.

Every species of Provision brought to my Camp will be paid for at an equitable rate and in solid Coin.

In consciousness of Christianity, my Royal Masters clemency, and the honor of Soldiership, I have dwelt upon this invitation, and wished for more persuasive terms to give it impression; and let not people be led to disregard it by considering their distance from the immediate situation of my Camp. I have but to give stretch to the Indian Forces under my direction, and they amount to Thousands, to overtake the harden'd Enemies of Great Britain and America, (I consider them the same) wherever they may lurk. If notwithstanding these endeavours, and sincere inclinations to effect them, the phrenzy of hostility shou'd remain, I trust I shall stand acquitted in the Eyes of God & Men in denouncing and executing the vengeance of the state against the wilful outcasts.

The messengers of justice & of wrath await them in the Field, and devastation, famine, and every concomitant horror that a reluctant by indispensible prosecution of Military duty must occasion, will bar the way to their return.

By order of his (Signed) John Burgoyne.
Excellency the Lt. Gen'l
(Signed) Rob't Kingston.
Secretary.
Camp at Bouquet Ferry June 20th, 1777

To read an American reply to this proclamation, click here.
 

Sources/notes:

1 James Hadden. Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books: A Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1776 and 1777, by Lieut. James M. Hadden, Roy. Art. Edited by Horatio Rogers. (Albany: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1884)

2  PUBLIC PAPERS OF GEORGE CLINTON: FIRST GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK. VOL. II.  Published by the State of New York. (New York and Albany: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, Crawford, 1900) 143

Burgoyne illustration from the Public Papers of George Clinton, Vol.II. 1900: Published by the State of New York
Courtesy of the Floyd Harwood Collection

 

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