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A tired retreat:
Part VII

The inevitable end

by Emily L. Marcason


This illustration depicts the area where the British surrendered at Saratoga.
(Illustrations: Benson J. Lossing)

Fraser's soldiers were quick to gather themselves after learning of his death and the next morning returned from a scouting expedition with news of a strong American force making a circle through the forest. The movement of the Americans would put it at an advantage, being in command of the road back to Saratoga.1 Soon after hearing this news, it was with great reluctance that Burgoyne ordered a retreat to take place. However, Burgoyne insisted on honoring his friend Fraser before the retreat.2 To the Germans, especially von Riedesel and his wife, the funeral for Fraser was respectable but a waste of valuable time that should have been geared towards the British retreat to Ticonderoga.3

Toward the evening of Oct. 8, the British forces arrived in Saratoga and set up camp. The Baroness was drenched from the rain but was curious to know why the Army was not continuing on its retreat.

 The woman asked General Phillips and his response was: "Poor woman. I admire you! Thoroughly drenched as you are, you still have the courage to go on in this weather. If only you were our commanding general! He thinks himself too tired and wants to spend the night here and give us supper." 4

Burgoyne liked to have a jolly time and Saratoga was seemingly no different. He enjoyed singing and drinking the night away in the company of a commissary's wife, who was his mistress. She enjoyed her champagne as much as Burgoyne did.5


On the 10th, after Burgoyne gave the order to burn patriot General Schulyer's home, the retreat went sour. The entire British Army was in favor of the retreat, and General von Riedesel said the retreat could be successful if only the army had not wasted so much time. Burgoyne could not make up his mind of whether to retreat or not. It was because he could not make up his mind that in the end he lost everything.6
 


Sources/Notes:

1 Gerald Howson, “Burgoyne of Saratoga” (Times Books, New York 1979) 222.

2 lbid., 222.

3 lbid., 222.

4 Marvin Brown, “Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783” (University of North Carolina Press: Published by Kingsport Press, Tennessee 1965) 55.

5 lbid., 56.

6 lbid., 57.

Illustrations by Benson J. Lossing and Felix Darley: Benson J. Lossing. "THE PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE WAR OF 1812; OR, ILLUSTRATIONS, BY PEN AND PENCIL, OF THE HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY, SCENERY, RELICS, AND TRADITIONS OF THE LAST WAR FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE." 1869. Courtesy of the Floyd Harwood Collection.

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