BURGOYNE, General John (1722-1792). A State of the Expedition from Canada, as laid before the House of Commons. London: J. Almon, 1780.
4to., (11 x 9 inches). Fine folding engraved frontispiece map “of the country in which the Army under Lt. General Burgoyne acted in the Campaign of 1777”; and five fine folding engraved maps drawn by Medcalfe and engraved by William Faden, with hand coloring in outline (one or two short tears). Original publisher’s paper boards with title in manuscript to front board, uncut (expertly rebacked to style, preserving the original printed paper spine label; somewhat scuffed with slight loss to extremities, one or two pale stains).
Provenance: Early manuscript ownership inscription of Henry Churchill to title page.
First edition. Burgoyne was given command of British troops in Canada in 1777. After successes at Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Edward Burgoyne was overwhelmed by Horatio Gates's forces at Saratoga. His troops suffered a crippling defeat at Bemis Heights at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, surrendering in October 1777. Burgoyne had been so convinced of the success of his venture that he had bet ten pounds that he would be victorious even before leaving Britain. In the event the defeat proved a vital turning point in favor of the Continental army in the War of Independence, giving France the encouragement it needed to join the American effort. Believing his defeat to be the result of lack of support from Generals Howe and Clinton, Burgoyne begged first an audience with the King, and then a court martial in order to clear his name. Eventually Burgoyne’s case was heard in the House of Commons, and this is the account of those proceedings: “I read again my orders (I believe for an hundredth time) and I was decided. And I am still convinced that. [nothing]. could have justified me to my country, have saved me from the condemnation of my profession, or produced pardon within my own breast, had I not advanced, and tried a battle with the enemy” (page 15).