The diary of the German Baroness von Riedesel offers a vivid picture of General
John Burgoyne and the British army's march from Canada to surrender at
Saratoga. It also details the Baroness' subsequent journey through America.
Because she was traveling with her husband, a general in Burgoyne's army, the
Baroness was subject to his fate. After the British surrender in New York, the
Baroness, her husband, their three children and almost 6,000 captured British
and Hessian soldiers were marched to Boston. There the Baroness and her family
were detained in comfortable surroundings for more than a year.
In November, 1778, they were given "a pretty English carriage" and an escort to
Virginia. Along the way the von Riedesels dined with the Marquis de
Lafayette in Hartford. The Baroness found Lafayette "polite and
pleasant," but was surprised to hear Lafayette talk of how kind the King of
England had been to Lafayette on a recent visit. "I could not forbear asking
him," she wrote, "how he could have had the heart to accept so much kindness
from the King just as he was about to leave for the purpose of fighting against
The von Riedesels stayed in Virginia until August of 1779. "The Virginians are
mostly indolent," the Baroness recorded, "which is ascribed to their hot
climate, but with the slightest inducement they are ready in an instant to
They then traveled to New York, where General von Riedesel spent a year on
parole, before being given his release in exchange for the British release of
American General Benjamin Lincoln.
The Baron commanded troops on Long Island during the winter of 1780 - `81, then
he and his family were sent to Canada, where they stayed until the 1783 peace
treaty was signed. The von Riedesels returned to Germany that year.
The Baroness' diary had been intended for the eyes of her family only, but she
consented to have it published in 1800.
During their stay in New York, the Baroness gave birth to a daughter, who was