The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

American History Stories—Volume II - Mara L. Pratt




Saratoga

There was another terrible battle this time at Saratoga, in which General Gates succeeded in so breaking up Burgoyne's army that this proud British general was obliged to surrender.

Both generals had fought bravely and skilfully; and although they were enemies in battle, they respected each other as men; and when, after the surrender, Burgoyne gave up his sword to Gates, he did so very courteously, saying, "The fortunes of war, General Gates, have made me your prisoner."

General Gates, taking the sword, said with equal politeness, "I shall always be glad to testify, General Burgoyne, that it was through no fault of yours that it happened so."

I am afraid the newspapers again printed many jokes about the defeated Burgoyne, as they recalled the extravagant threats he had made at the beginning of his campaign.

His people, too, in England blamed him severely, which I think was rather unjust; for, in spite of all, he was a brave and skilful soldier; the only trouble was that he was on the wrong side of the truth, and the wrong side seldom succeeds in any battle.