If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. — Rudyard Kipling

American History Stories—Volume II - Mara L. Pratt




Anecdote of Burgoyne

Nothing, perhaps, helped the colonists on to victory more than the conceit, and consequent unwillingness to learn, of the British generals.

After Bunker Hill, Gen. Gage was, as we know, shut up in the town of Boston by Washington's troops.

As Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne were sailing up the harbor an outward-bound vessel hailed them, saying, "Your British troops are under seige. Washington's troops surround the city."

"How many are there?" called Burgoyne.

"Ten thousand colonists to five thousand British."

"What!" exclaimed Burgoyne puffing himself like a vain frog; "do you mean to say that ten thousand country clods are keeping under seige five thousand British troops? Just let us get there and we'll make elbow-room!"

Boston people did not forget this boast; and a few months later, when Burgoyne and his army were marched as prisoners of war into Cambridge, an old apple-woman, perched with her basket on a fence, made great sport by crying as he passed, "Make way there! elbow-room! elbow-room!"

You remember that it was Burgoyne's troops that used the Old South as a riding-school. Nothing so angered the Boston people as this. And it is said that when, after his surrender, Burgoyne was walking with other generals along Washington Street, he said, as he came to the Province House, "There is the former residence of the Governor."

"Yes," shouted a voice in the crowd, "and there opposite is the riding-school."