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General John Burgoyne tried but failed to beat the Americans during the American Revolution by attacking from Canada. He surrendered his whole army of 5,000 men and his flags to General Horatio Gates on October 17, 1777, at Saratoga, New York. Colonel Hugh Maxwell of Charlemont, Massachusetts, was at Saratoga and took home with him a keepsake: a small piece of one of Burgoyne's silk flags.