1977 13¢ Surrender at Saratoga
Issue Date: October 7, 1977
City: Schuylerville, NY
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Victory at Saratoga – A Turning Point in the Revolution
On October 7, 1777, the British General John Burgoyne led his army in the Second Battle of Freeman’s Farm. General Burgoyne’s defeat there was the conclusion of a series of empty victories in which British troops took ground, but suffered heavy losses. He decided to retreat, but soon found himself surrounded by the American army commanded by General Horatio Gates. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne surrendered to Gates. The Americans took nearly 6,000 prisoners and a large supply of arms.
The British surrender at Saratoga (now Schuylerville), New York, marked a major turning point in the war. It showed that the British could be defeated, and that their strategies were failing. This helped to convince France that it was possible to enter the war on the American side.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
Death Of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko
On October 15, 1817, Polish-Lithuanian General Thaddeus Kosciuszko died in Solothurn, Switzerland.
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was born in early February 1746 (sources generally say February 4 or 12), near Kosów, Lithuania (present-day Kosava, Belarus). The youngest son of a Polish-Lithuanian army officer, Kosciuszko came from a family with noble ancestry.
After his father’s death, Kosciuszko joined Poland’s Corps of Cadets in 1765 where he studied military tactics and liberal arts. He stayed as a student instructor after graduating and reached the rank of captain. Then in 1769, he traveled to France to study at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. While in Paris, he also audited lectures at the military academies.
After briefly returning home, Kosciuszko eventually made his way back to Paris, where he learned about the American Revolution. He strongly supported their cause and set sail for America in June 1776.
Shortly after arriving in Pennsylvania, Kosciuszko read Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. He was so moved by it, because it stood for everything he believed, he wanted to meet the author. A few months later, the two men met in Virginia and spent the day discussing philosophy and other shared beliefs. They soon became close friends, with Kosciuszko enjoying several prolonged visits to Jefferson’s home at Monticello. Jefferson once called Kosciuszko “as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.”
In August 1776, Kosciuszko was officially assigned to the Continental Army. Having gained significant engineering knowledge during his studies, Kosciuszko was tasked with building fortifications at Fort Billingsport in New Jersey, to protect the Delaware River from a British attack. The following year, he joined the Northern Army and reviewed the defenses of Fort Ticonderoga. His suggestions for improvements went unanswered, and the British ended up attacking just as he’d predicted. Kosciuszko was then tasked with delaying the enemy, which he did by felling trees, damming streams, and destroying bridges to slow the British and give the Americans time to withdraw.
After that success, Horatio Gates tasked Kosciuszko with finding the most defensible position for the Battle of Saratoga, which he found at Bemis Heights. Kosciuszko’s strong defenses there helped Gates win victory and force the British surrender at Saratoga. In March 1778, Kosciuszko traveled to West Point, where he would spend two years improving the fortifications and defenses, and the results were seen as innovative.
After that, Kosciuszko asked for a combat position and was granted it, though he would continue to provide engineering expertise. He fought at the Second Battle of Camden, participated in the Siege of the Star Fort, and commanded troops at the last armed action of the war at James Island.
After the war ended, Kosciuszko went back to Poland where he was commissioned in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army. Inspired by the American Revolution, he launched the Kosciuszko Uprising to free Poland and Lithuania from Russian oppression in 1794. He was eventually captured but later pardoned. Kosciuszko returned to America. He spent time with Thomas Jefferson, and wrote a will leaving his American assets to the education and freedom of US slaves (though this was never carried out as he intended). He later went back to Europe and died in Switzerland on October 15, 1817.
Click here to learn about the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania.