Surrender at Saratoga

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On October 13, 1777, Major General John Burgoyne initiated talks with American leaders. His confidence in the ability of Sir Henry Clinton to bring desperately needed reinforcements to the Upper Hudson was all but gone.

A parley was arranged with the American commander, Major General Horatio Gates, who was so compliant with Burgoyne’s terms that the latter general began to doubt the wisdom of seeking peace. He thought perhaps that the Americans knew more about Clinton’s location and strength and were attempting to conclude negotiations quickly. The conflicted Burgoyne stretched the talks out over several more days, but finally agreed to a formal surrender of October 17.

The following provisions were made under the Saratoga Articles of Convention:

At the appointed hour, the British troops turned over their arms to American soldiers who stacked them neatly in a field. The defeated army numbered more than 6,000 men, plus several hundred camp-following women. They marched before the assembled victors to the tent of General Gates. Burgoyne handed over his sword in the prescribed gesture of surrender; Gates held it briefly, then returned it in recognition of his respect for his opponent.

The British forces were marched to Albany and later to Boston. The Americans, to their discredit, did not abide strictly by the terms of the Convention; they kept their charges in detainment camps for months before repatriating them.

The Saratoga campaign is frequently cited as a major turning point in the War for Independence. Support for that view is bolstered by the following events:

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