Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Gentleman Johnny

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds (1766)
 The ill-fated British general John Burgoyne was born in 1722. At the age of 15 he purchased a commission in the Horse Guards, stationed in London. As his duties were light he was able "to cut a figure" in High Society, with a love for stylish uniforms, which earned him the nickname "Gentleman Johnny". Not long, and he had run into heavy debts, forcing him to sell his commission.
But John returned to service in the army. He first saw action in the Seven Years' War, participqating in several battles. But he is best known for his part in the American Revolutionary War: During the Saratoga campaign, the overconfident lieutenant general John Burgoyne was forced in 1777 to surrender his army of 5,800 men to the Rebel general Horatio Gates, being surrounded and outnumbered. Burgoyne was heavily criticised on his return to Britain, and never got another active command.
Surrender of General Burgoyne by John Trumbull (1822)
His surrender proved a turning point in the war, since after this victory France recognised the United States, and entered the war on February 6, 1778. This French aid finally led to Cornwallis's capitulation at Yorktown.
Figure by Front Rank
 

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