American Military History Through Stamps (1775-1913)

Surrender at Saratoga

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The 13-cent Surrender at Saratoga stamp was issued October 7, 1977.

The Battle of Saratoga took place between September 19 and October 17, 1777 between British General John Burgoyne’s approximately 8,000 British and Hessian soldiers and a numerically superior American force. After suffering great losses and finding his position completely surrounded by American troops, General Burgoyne and 5,895 British and Hessian soldiers surrendered. News of Burgoyne’s surrender led French King Louis XVI to enter into negotiations with the Americans, which resulted in a Franco-American alliance. The Battle of Saratoga played a critical role in setting the Americans on the path towards victory in the Revolutionary War.

The 1977 stamp shown here commemorates the 200th anniversary of the surrender of British General John Burgoyne to General Horatio Gates, commander of the American forces at Saratoga. Designed by Bradbury Thompson, the scene adapts a John Trumbull painting completed for the Capitol Rotunda in 1826. The central figure in Trumbull's painting is General Gates, who refused to take the sword offered by General Burgoyne, and, treating his former foe as a gentleman, invited him into his tent. All of the figures in the scene portray specific officers. Trumbull planned this outdoor scene to contrast with his 'Declaration of Independence,' which hangs beside it in the Capitol Rotunda.