Burgoyne was a famous and colourful figure who became infamous when he was forced to surrender to the American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga in 1777. He was later exonerated and re-instated when the blame shifted to a staff officer who had failed to co-ordinate the attack on New York leaving Burgoyne outnumbered and unsupported. Generals Howe and Barry St Leger were supposed to advance simultaneously from the south and west while Burgoyne moved in from the north.
Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne was not just a soldier, he was a playwright, actor, fashion trend-setter and a leading light in London society. He caused a scandal when he eloped with Lady Charlotte Stanley and had to live in exile for 7 years. But his time was well spent studying the continental light cavalry in Prussia and Russia. Eventually his father-in-law, Lord Derby, forgave him and helped to re-instate him as a military commander. Burgoyne put forward proposals for the raising of a light cavalry regiment. His ideas were accepted and it was decided to raise two regiments, Elliot's 15th Light Dragoons and Burgoyne's 16th Light Dragoons.
He achieved fame in Portugal as a cavalry commander, and where he formed a friendship with Count Frederick la Lippe Buckeburg. He was placed in charge of outposts but in July 1762 he stormed Valencia d'Alcantara, taking three standards and capturing a Spanish general. The campaign ended after he attacked an entrenched camp at Villa Velha on October 5th. The Commander, Count Frederick was delighted with Burgoyne's efforts and rewarded him by commissioning Sir Joshua Reynolds to paint Burgoyne's portrait (above) in the uniform of his regiment, the 16th Light Dragoons.
1722 24th Feb. Born at the ancestral family home in Sutton, Bedfordshire.
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