(The Frick Museum)
Burgoyne, commissioned in the illustrious Horse Guards in 1737, served with great distinction during the Seven Years War, winning him fame and a seat in the House of Commons. Shortly after war broke out with the American colonies in 1775, Burgoyne was promoted to the rank of Major-General, and was tasked with sending reinforcements up the St. Lawrence River to threaten the Hudson Valley. Despite early success in the summer of 1776, Burgoyne was halted by the much larger American forces brought to bear by generals Gates, Schuyler, and Arnold. Then, in a stunning defeat, Burgoyne was forced to surrender his army of 5,800 men at Saratoga in the fall of 1777. Burgoyne never fully recovered his reputation following the embarrassing loss, and was blamed heavily for his army’s disastrous defeat.