31: Fort Hardy Park: An Honorable Surrender

Left with no real options, Burgoyne concedes to a capitulation.

Surrender of General Burgoyne by Jacques Gerard Milbert. Courtesy of Yale University.

It was a cold, wet October, with ceaseless firing. On October 13, 1777, with supplies short and no reinforcements available, General John Burgoyne convened a Council of War. A ceasefire was ordered and officers from each army met at the Schuyler Mills, one of the few buildings Burgoyne hadn’t burnt in his retreat.

Burgoyne had few options, but wished to save himself the shame of defeat. Rebel General Horatio Gates asked for an unconditional surrender, to which Burgoyne replied that he would rather die. Gates eventually conceded to a capitulation, which allowed Burgoyne to set conditions and avoid the humiliation of total surrender.

According to the agreement, all the officers would retain their swords and equipment, the soldiers their knapsacks; the British would be marched to Boston, where they would be properly fed and sheltered before embarking for England—with the condition that they would not serve in North America again; and the Canadians and Indians would return home. After six Councils of War, it was unanimously decided that Burgoyne should sign the Articles of Convention.

It’s believed that here under an elm tree in Fort Hardy Park, Burgoyne drew up and signed the Convention of Saratoga, which formally ended the Northern Campaign of 1777. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne’s army decamped, stacking their arms at Fort Hardy Park as they marched past their waiting adversaries.

On a small hill overlooking the Hudson River, Burgoyne and Gates gathered with their respective convoys, and Burgoyne ceremoniously surrendered his sword to Gates. The men bowed to each other, shared a few words, and then Gates returned Burgoyne’s sword to him. The Northern Campaign of 1777 was over.

Burgoyne’s defeat marked the first time in history that a British army ever surrendered. And the action would have global consequences. It was also the first major victory for the Americans and convinced France, Spain, and the Netherlands that the tiny united colonies might just beat the most powerful army in the world. (See Epilogue for more about the huge influence this battle had.)

Local Bites

Sweeney’s. A great place for breakfast, served till 2 pm. Real homemade corned beef hash. 70 Broad Street, Schuylerville.

Revolution Café. Welcoming spot along the Champlain Canal for sandwiches—many named after Revolutionary War figures associated with the Battles of Saratoga—as well as tacos, paninis, burritos, and salads. 31 Ferry Street, Schuylerville.

Over the Moon Café and Bakery. Excellent variety of breakfast and lunch options (including gluten-free)—as well as baked goods. 214 Broad Street, Schuylerville.

Amigos. Mexican cuisine with a southwest accent. Voted best Mexican restaurant in the Saratoga Region. Great margaritas. 42 Ferry Street, Schuylerville.

Clark’s Steakhouse. Perfect for dinner, serving sumptuous steaks, seafood, burgers, and more. The building used to be owned by Clark’s Textile company in the late 1800s to early 1900s. They made gloves for pilots. 120 Broad Street, Schuylerville.

Travel Tools

Fort Hardy was built in August 1755 by General Phinehas Lyman and named for Sir Charles Hardy, Governor of New York. The fort served as a supply post for expeditions against Crown Point.

Now a recreational park, the peaceful site offers a picnic area, boat launch, and two miles of walking trails. The park sits between the old Champlain Canal and the Hudson River. It hosts many events during the year, from the Turning Point Parade in August to river contests, youth sport activities, and other recreational events.

At the visitor’s center, you will find displays about the ceremonious surrender of General John Burgoyne.

 

Learn More

Convention at Saratoga (video)

First-Hand Accounts

Baroness Riedesel describes the end of hostilities:

 – Memoir of Baroness Riedesel

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