Today, New York State will serve as a backdrop for the American rebellion during 1777. We'll explore other parts of the world in the next few weeks.

January finds our cast members, lesser and greater, assembling to play their parts in the drama. John Cumming, a Loyalist from the Hudson Valley, aware he's in a rather delicate situation, travels down to New York City to confer with British officials. He's offered an army commission but declines.

In London, General John Burgoyne (Gentleman Johnny) begins laying plans to shatter the rebel forces in the colony.

In March John Cumming is arrested by his neighbors as being a danger to the rebellion. More of a danger is rebel general Charles Lee, now in British hands in New Jersey, who aids General Howe with plans for his part in the invasion.

July finds all plans under way, with Albany the common target. Burgoyne moves south from Canada, down New York's waterways, capturing Fort Ticonderoga from Horatio Gates along the route. Barry St. Leger moves southeast up the Oswego River from Lake Ontario. The third prong is expected to move up the Hudson from New York City, but there are delays.

It's at this point that things really begin unravelling. Native tribes with Burgoyne's forces murder settler Jane McCrea, rallying colonial resistance, slowing the British pace. St. Leger lays siege to Fort Stanwix. Colonial general Benedict Arnold slows their progress by strewing dis-information in his path, while a rescue party under Nicholas Herkimer attempts to lift the siege. Herkimer loses his life, but Stanwix is not taken. Burgoyne suffers a defeat at Saratoga in mid-September at the hands of rebel generals Morgan and Dearborn.

John Cumming escapes from jail this same month, but is recaptured. Meanwhile, forces under Sir Henry Clinton, under sail at last, pass through the Hudson highlands. On October 16th, the fleet burns the town of Esopus, later to be known as Kingston, then inexplicably sail back to New York, ignoring Burgoyne's plight. They are blissfully unaware that nine days earlier the forces of Gates, Morgan and Arnold have captured the bulk of Burgoyne's army, still mired at Saratoga.

And John Cumming? He will be paroled and finally, in May of 1780, return to his native Scotland.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte