Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 7

Price Realized: $ 2,000
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Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1776.) Burgoyne, John. Letter directing the deployment of reinforcements after the Battle of Trois-Rivières. Autograph Letter Signed as "J. Burgoy[ne]" to an unidentified "mon cher General." One page, 8 x 6 1/4 inches, plus integral blank; folds, mount remnants on blank verso, signature incomplete as it runs off the sheet on the lower edge and is affected by a 1/4-inch chip at corner. Chambly, Quebec, 10 June 1776

Additional Details

British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne was a key figure in the British defense of Canada in 1775 and 1776; he later surrendered with his large army at Saratoga the following year. This letter was written two days after the British victory at the Battle of Trois-Rivières which decisively ended the American invasion of Quebec. Burgoyne was preparing to pursue the retreating remnants of the American forces. Here he writes (translated from his original French): "Having made the arrangement for moving the last companies of the corps of Brigadier Frazer up to Lisle and to Noix, it becomes necessary to put your troops in another position . . . to hold the port of St. John. I wish to employ one of your battalions in these services and I ask you to let me know which it will be."
Burgoyne's choice of French to address one of his own generals might seem unusual. The recipient may have been the Hessian-born mercenary general Friedrich Adolf Riedesel, who had just arrived in Quebec City on 1 June to join Burgoyne's forces. If Burgoyne was not fluent in German, he may have used French as an attempt to find a common language. Provenance: Charles Hamilton auction, 1 February 1967, lot 130 (source of the translation).