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General Burgoyne Has Surrendered
October 4th, 1777
Writing is not what I do best, nor am I keen to expressing my “feelings” as my mother would call them. Well, to begin, my name is Joseph Burgoyne, and my uncle is the great general John Burgoyne. I have just recently joined the powerful British army under Uncles’ recommendation, and already I am starting to regret it.
Uncles’ army has recently taken Freeman’s Farm which lies on a rebel fortified elevation known as Bemis Heights (which is where I now sit writing). A few weeks before I arrived, Uncle had been told that Major General Clinton was just up the Hudson River, and was advancing to meet our enterprise. But Uncle told me that Clinton hadn’t reached them after nearly three weeks, so he gave up the hope.
There is illness here, and many men are deserting our army day by day. My good friend, Thomas, joined the rebel army, saying that we deserve freedom and independence. At the moment, I hadn’t thought much of what he had said, but now I am starting to think I may have chosen the wrong allies.
October 5th, 1777
Yesterday, Uncle held a war council with his senior generals. I do not exactly know what it was they were talking about, but I am under the belief that he wishes to launch an attack on the American positions that have assembled below Bemis Heights.
If what I have heard is true, then this will be my first taste of battle, and I am not certain that I will enjoy it.
October 8th, 1777
Uncle launched the attack yesterday and right now is one of the few moments of rest that I am given. I am being commanded by Brigade General Fraser. Yesterday, Fraser marched us too far to the west and south however, thus no fighting was seen by my eyes, but I could undoubtedly hear it.
Gun shots, cannon shots, the dreadful screams of the wounded. It was all too much.
October 9th, 1777
Bayonets hurt. Uncle ordered a retreat during the night, and fighting commenced later in the day. A rebel jumped me and I would have been skewered if my gun hadn’t accidentally gone off. God was with me no doubt, watching over me.
October 17th, 1777
General Burgoyne has surrendered. It is, needless to say, shameful, but I’m not complaining. I’ve been in the infirmary for three days!
A few days ago during a skirmish, rebels fired a volley of bullets in my direction. The men and areas surrounding me were peppered with holes. I didn’t get away untouched however. A bullet pierced my lower left leg.
Bleeding heavily, I crawled for cover. Luckily, a fellow solider spied me under the brush and carried me to camp. Uncle was horrified and sorry that he had dragged me into this abomination of a war. But I told him no, it was my own curiosity and excitement that came back at me in the end.
My bones ache and I am in excruciating pain. I can feel my breath, as well and my heartbeat, slowly diminish. I am sorry to say that I will never return home. I am dying.
As I lay here in the infirmary, blood oozing from the temporary stiches in my wounds, I think of the mother and brother that I am leaving behind. Mother wanted me home, not here. I shiver at the thought of leaving them. Forever.
Our army will be leaving this battle field (which I have been told is called Saratoga) in about three hours as to the surrender agreements. I do not believe that I will make it.
I will state this with my last breath: the rebels are strong, and I do believe that they will prevail.
Thomas was right. Freedom is worth fighting for…