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John Burgoyne (1722-1792)


Born in London and educated at Westminster School, John Burgoyne was 15 years old when he entered the military. Burgoyne saw active foreign service during the Seven Years' War and won an important British victory in Portugal in 1762. During the ensuing years he became increasingly involved in social and political life. Promoted to major general in 1772, Burgoyne sailed to America as a reinforcement to General Gage in 1775, arriving in time to learn of the battles at Concord and Lexington. He witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill, but frustrated at his lack of authority, he went home to England soon thereafter. Burgoyne returned to North America in 1776 as second-in-command to Guy Carleton in Canada, but he again left the army in frustration. In 1777 Burgoyne received command of a large army in Canada and led an invasion of New York designed to isolate New England from the rest of the colonies. The campaign ended with Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga. Returning to England while his army marched into captivity, he met with considerable criticism and retired from active service.

Sources: Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Stephen, Leslie and Sidney Lee, eds. The Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921-1922.

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