British General Johnny Burgoyne surrendered October 17, 1777

The Last of the Mohicans coverAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

Her beautiful, long hair was scalped off her head by Indians after she was shot.

This was the fate of Jane McCrea, whose loyalist fiancé David Jones had only weeks earlier joined British General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne, who in June of 1777, was marching with 7,000 troops from Canada to Albany, New York.

Recapturing Fort Ticonderoga, Burgoyne headed down the Hudson River Valley, making a treaty with the Mohawk Tribe to terrorize American settlements.

When Indians returned to camp with a scalp of beautiful long hair, David Jones instantly recognized it as his fiancée’s.

This resulted in an outrage that forced Burgoyne to tell the Indians to show restraint.

Insulted, the Indians left Burgoyne stranded deep in the forest.

Jane McCrea’s death, later immortalized in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, rallied Americans, causing ranks to increase to 15,000.

The British tried to send reinforcements, but were prevented, as Yale President Ezra Stiles explained, May 8, 1783:

“To whom but the Ruler of the Winds shall we ascribe it, that the British reinforcement, in the summer of 1777, was delayed on the ocean three months by contrary winds, until it was too late for the conflagrating General Clinton to raise the siege of Saratoga.”

At the Battle of Saratoga, October 7, 1777, General Benedict Arnold led a valiant charge on the British flank, resulting in him being considered the hero of the battle.

Shortly thereafter, OCTOBER 17, 1777, British General Johnny Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates, and over 6,000 British troops were captured.

When news of Burgoyne’s surrender reached King Louis XVI in France, he decided to support the American cause and enter the war.

The victory at Saratoga turned the Revolution into a global war, stretching Britain’s resources in other areas of the world, including the West Indies and Europe.

The surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga is not only considered a major turning point in the Revolutionary War, but one of the most important battles in world history.

Artist John Trumbull’s painting of the Surrender of General Burgoyne is in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

General George Washington wrote to his brother John Augustine the day after the victory:

“I most devoutly congratulate my country, and every well-wisher to the cause, on this signal stroke of Providence.”

When Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who signed the Declaration of Independence, heard of the victory of Saratoga, he exclaimed:

“This is the Lord’s doing, and marvelous in our eyes!”

On November 1, 1777, the Continental Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:

“That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts…

join the penitent confession of their manifold sins…that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of rememberance…

and… under the providence of Almighty God…secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


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