Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne had returned to England in 1776, after a somewhat ineffectual command at Boston. While home, it was said, Burgoyne took the waters at Bath, and was revitalized, both physically and mentally. He devised a plan to divide New England from the southern colonies, and thereby more easily conquer one half of the colonies first, and then the other half at his leasure. The fifty-two year old Major General was so sure of his plan, that he placed a wager in the betting-book of the fashionable Brooks Club in London, which stated: "John Burgoyne wagers Charles Fox one pony that he will be home victorious from America by Chritmas Day, 1777".
General Burgoyne put his plan into the form of a written proposal, which he titled: Thoughts For Conducting The War From The Side Of Canada. The proposal was submitted to Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for America, on 28 February, 1777. It called for a force of 8,000 men to sweep southward from Canada by Lake Champlain, taking Fort Ticonderoga enroute, to meet a smaller force traveling by way of the Mohawk River from Oswego. The two forces would join at the Hudson River above Albany, the ultimate object of the campaign. General Sir William Howe would then lead a force up the Hudson River to join in the assault on Albany. The taking of Albany from the Rebels, and the coincident control of the Hudson River would effectively seal off the New England colonies from the southern colonies. On the 3rd of March, Sir William Howe submitted his own proposal to Lord Germain. Howe wanted to ferry an army from New York to the Chesapeake Bay in order to mount an attack on Philadelphia. Lord Germain was agreeable to both plans, assuming that Howe would complete the Philadelphia campaign in time to move northward to assist Burgoyne.
General Burgoynes Thoughts follows:
When the lat hips came from Quebec, a report prevailed in Canada, aid to have been founded upon poitive evidence, that the rebels had laid the keels of everal large vesels at Skeneborough and Ticonderoga, and were reolved to exert their utmot powers, to contruct a new and formidable fleet during the winter.
I will not, however, give credit to their exertions, in uch a degree as to imagine the Kings troops will be prevented pasing Lake Champlain early in the ummer, but will uppoe the operations of the army to begin from Crown Point.
But as the preent means to form effectual plans is to lay down every posible difficulty, I will uppoe the enemy in great force at Ticonderoga; the different works there are capable of admitting twelve thouand men.
I will uppoe him alo to occupy Lake George with a coniderable naval trength, in order to ecure his retreat, and afterwards to retard the campaign; and it is natural to expect that he will take meaures to block up the roads from Ticonderoga to Albany by the way of Skeneborough, by fortifying the trong ground at different places, and thereby obliging the Kings army to carry a weight of artillery with it, and by felling trees, breaking bridges, and other obvious impediments, to delay, though he hould not have power or pirit finally to reit, its progres.
The enemy thus dipoed upon the ide of Canada, it is to be conidered what troops will be necesary, and what dipoition of them will be mot proper to proecute the campaign with vigor and effect.
I humbly conceive the operating army (I mean excluively of the troops left for the ecurity of Canada) ought not to conit of les than 8000 regulars, rank and file. The artillery required in the memorandums of General Carleton, a corps of watermen, 2000 Canadians, including hatchet-men and other workmen, and 1000 or more avages.
It is to be hoped that the reinforcement and the victualling hips may all be ready to ail from the Channel and from Corke on the lat day of March. I am peruaded that to ail with a fleet of hips earlier, is to ubject Government to los and diappointment. It may reaonably be expected that they will reach Quebec before the 20th of May, a period in full time for opening the campaign. The roads, and the rivers and lakes, by the melting and running off of the nows, are in common years impracticable ooner.
But as the weather long before that time will probably have admitted of labour in the docks, I will take for granted that the fleet of lat year, as well batteaux as armed vesels, will be found repaired, augmented, and fit for immediate ervice. The magazines that remain of proviions, I believe them not to be abundant, will probably be formed at Montreal, Sorel and Chamblee.
I conceive the firt buines for thoe entruted with the chief powers, hould be to elect and pot the troops detined to remain in Canada; to throw up the military tores and proviion with all posible dipatch, in which ervice the above mentioned troops, if properly poted, will greatly asit, and to draw the army detined for operation to cantonments, within as few days march of St. Johns as conveniently may be. I hould prefer cantonments at that eaon of the year to encampment, as the ground is very damp, and conequently very pernicious to the men, and more epecially as they will have been for many months before ued to lodgings, heated with toves, or between the decks of hips; all thee operations may be put in motion together, but they everally require ome obervation.
I hould wih that the troops left in Canada, uppoing the number mentioned in my former memorandum to be approved, might be made as follows:
The 31st regiment, Britih, excluive of their light company of grenadiers ... .. .. ..448
Macleans corps . .. ..... .. .300
The 29th regiment .... .448
The ten additional companies from Great Britain.. 560
Brunwick and Hese-Hanau to be taken by detachments or complete corps, as Major-General Riedeel hall recommend, leaving the grenadiers, light infantry and dragoons complete . .650
Detachments from the other Britih brigades, leaving the grenadiers and light infantry complete and quaring the battalion equally . 600
My reaon for electing the 31st regiment for this duty is, that when I aw it lat it was not equally in order with the other regiments for ervices of activity.
I propoe Macleans corps, becaue I very much apprehend deertion from uch parts of it as are compoed of Americans, hould they come near the enemy.
In Canada, whatoever may be their dipoition, it is not o eay to effect it.
And I propoe making up the reidue by detachment, becaue by electing the men leat calculated for fatigue or leat accutomed to it, which may be equally good oldiers in more confined movements and better provided ituations, the effective trength for operation is much greater and the defenive trength not impaired.
I mut beg leave to tate the expeditious conveyance of proviion and tores from Quebec, and the everal other depoitories, in order to form ample magazines at Crown Point, as one of the mot important operations of the campaign, becaue it is upon that which mot of the ret will depend. If ailing vesels up the St. Lawrence are alone to be employed, the accident of contrary winds may delay them two months before they pas the rapids of Richelieu, and afterwards St. Peters Lake; delays to that extent are not uncommon, and they are only to be obviated by having a quantity of mall craft in readines to work with oars. From the mouth of the Sorrell to Chamblee, rowing and tacking is a ure conveyance if ufficient hands are found. From Chamblee to St. Theree (which i jut above the Rapids) land-carriage mut be ued, and great authority will be requiite to upply the quantity necesary.
A buines thus complicated in arrangement, in ome parts uual in practice and in others perhaps difficult, can only be carried to the deired effect by the peremptory powers, warm zeal, and cononant opinion of the Governor; and though the former are not to be doubted, a failure in the latter, vindicated, or eeming to be vindicated, by the plauible obtructions that will not fail to be uggeted by others, will be ufficient to cruh uch exertions as an officer of a anguine temper, entruted with the future conduct of the campaign, and whoe peronal interet and fame therefore conequently depend upon a timely out-et, would be led to make.
The asembly of the avages and the Canadians will alo entirely depend upon the Governor.
Under thee coniderations, it is preumed, that the general officer employed to proceed with the army will be held to be out of the reach of any posible blame till he is clear of the province of Canada, and furnihed with the propoed upplies.
The navigation of Lake Champlain ecured by the uperiority of our naval force, and the arrangements for forming proper magazines o etablihed as to make the execution certain, I would not loe a day to take posesion of Crown Point with Brigadier Fraers corps, a large body of avages, a body of Canadians, both for couts and works, and the bet of our engineers and artificers well upplied with entrenching tools.
The brigade would be ufficient to prevent inult during the time necesary for collecting the tores, forming magazines, and fortifying the pots; all which hould be done to a certain degree, previous to the proceeding in force to Ticonderoga; to uch a degree I mean as may be uppoed to be effected in time of tranporting artillery, preparing facines, and other necesaries for artillery operations; and by keeping the ret of the army back during that period, the tranport of proviions will be lesened, and the oldiers made of ue in forwarding the convoys.
But though there would be only one brigade at Crown Point at that time, it does not follow that the enemy hould remain in a tate of tranquillity. Corps of avages, upported by detachments of light regulars, hould be continually on foot to keep them in alarm, and within their works to cover the reconnoitring of general officers and engineers, and to obtain the bet intelligence of their trength, poition, and deign.
If due exertion is made in the preparations tated above, it may be hoped that Ticonderoga will be reduced early in the ummer and it will then become a more proper place for arms than Crown Point.
The next meaure mut depend upon thoe taken by the enemy, and upon the general plan of the campaign as concerted at home. If it be determined that General Howes whole forces hould act upon Hudon's River, and to the outhward of it, and that the only object of the Canada army to effect a junction with that force, the immediate posesion of Lake George would be of great conequence, as the mot expeditious and mot commodious route to Albany; and hould the enemy be in force upon that lake, which is very probable, every effort hould be tried, by throwing avages and light troops around it, to oblige them to quit it without waiting for naval preparations. Should thoe efforts fail, the route by South Bay and Skeneborough might be attempted, but coniderable difficulties may be expected, as the narrow parts of the river may be eaily choaked up and rendered impasable, and at bet there will be necesity for a great deal of land carriage for the artillery, proviion, etc. which can only be upplied from Canada. In cae of ucces alo by that route, and the enemy not removed from Lake George, it will be necesary to leave a chain of pots, as the army proceeds, for the ecurities of your communication, which may too much weaken o mall an army.
Let all thee attempts hould unavoidably fail, and it become indipenably necesary to attack the enemy by water upon Lake George, the army at the outet hould be provided with carriages, implements, and artificers, for conveying armed vesels from Ticonderoga to the lake.
Thee ideas are formed upon the uppoition, that it be the ole purpoe of the Canada army to effect a junction with General Howe, or after cooperating o far as to get posesion of Albany and open the communication to New York, to remain upon the Hudons River, and thereby enable that general to act with his whole force to the outhward.
But hould the trength of the main American army be uch as to admit of the corps of troops now at Rhode Iland remaining there during the winter, and acting eparately in the pring, it may be highly worthy conideration, whether the mot important purpoe to which the Canada army could be employed, uppoing it in posesion of Ticonderoga, would not be to gain the Connecticutt River.
The extent of country from Ticonderoga to the inhabited country upon that river, oppoite to Charles Town, is about ixty miles, and though to convey artillery and proviion o far by land would be attended with difficulties, perhaps more than thoe above uggeted, upon a progres to Skeneborough, hould the object appear worthy it is to be hoped reources might be found; in that cae it would be advieable to fortify with one or two trong redoubts the heights oppoite to Charles Town, and etablih pots of avages upon the pasage from Ticonderoga to thoe heights, to preerve the communication, and at the ame time prevent any attempt from the country above Charles Town, which is very populous, from moleting the rear or interrupting the convoys of upply, while the army proceeded down the Connecticutt. Should the junction between the Canada and Rhode Iland armies be effected upon the Connecticutt, it is not too anguine an expectation that all the New England provinces will be reduced by their operations.
To avoid breaking in upon other matter, I omitted in the beginning of thee papers to tate the idea of an expedition at the outet of the campaign by the Lake Ontario and Owego to the Mohawk River, which, as a diverion to facilitate every propoed operation, would be highly deirable, provided the army hould be reenforced ufficiently to afford it.
It may at firt appear, from a view of the preent trength of the army, that it may bear the ort of detachment propoed by myelf lat year for this purpoe; but it is to be conidered that at that time the utmot object of the campaign, from the advanced eaon and unavoidable delay of preparation for the lakes, being the reduction of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, unles the ucces of my expedition had opened the road to Albany, no greater numbers were necesary than for thoe firt operations. The cae in the preent year differs; becaue the eaon of the year affording a propect of very extenive operation, and conequently the etablihment of many pots, patroles, etc., will become necesary. The army ought to be in a tate of numbers to bear thoe drains, and till remain ufficient to attack anything that probably can be oppoed to it.
Nor, to argue from probability, is o much force necesary for this diverion this year, as was required for the lat; becaue we then knew that General Schuyler with a thouand men, was fortified upon the Mohawk. When the different ituations of things are conidered, viz, the progres of General Howe, the early invaion from Canada, the threatening of the Connecticutt from Rhode Iland, etc., it is not to be imagined that any detachment of uch force as that of Schuyler can be upplied by the enemy for the Mohawk. I would not therefore propoe it of more (and I have great diffidence whether o much can be prudently afforded) than Sir John Johnons corps, and a hundred Britih from the econd brigade, and a hundred more from the 8th regiment, with four pieces of the lightet artillery, and a body of avages; Sir John Johnon to be with the detachment in peron, and an able field officer to command it. I hould wih Lieutenant Colonel St. Leger for that employment.
I particularize the econd brigade, becaue the firt is propoed to be diminihed by the 31st regiment remaining in Canada, and the ret of the regiment drafted for the expedition being made alo part of the Canada force, the two brigades will be exactly quared.
Should it appear, upon examination of the really effective numbers of the Canada army, that the force is not ufficient for proceeding upon the above ideas with a fair propect of ucces, the alternative remains of embarking the army at Quebec, in order to effect a junction with General Howe by ea or to be employed eparately to cooperate with the main deigns, by uch means as hould be within their trength upon other parts of the continent. And though the army, upon examination of the numbers from the returns here, and the reenforcements deigned, hould appear adequate, it is humbly ubmitted, as a ecurity againt the posibility of its remaining inactive, whether it might not be expedient to entrut the latitude of embarking the army by ea to the commander-in-chief, provided any accidents during the winter, and unknown here, hould have diminihed the numbers coniderably, or that the enemy, from any winter ucces to the outhward, hould have been able to draw uch forces towards the frontiers of Canada, and take up their ground with uch precaution, as to render the intended meaure impracticable or too hazardous. But in that cae it mut be conidered that more force would be required to be left behind for the ecurity of Canada, than is uppoed to be necesary when an army is beyond the lake, and I do not conceive any expedition from the ea can be o formidable to the enemy, or o effectual to cloe the war, as an invaion from Canada to Ticonderoga. This lat meaure ought not to be thought of, but upon poitive conviction of its necesity.
J. BURGOYNE Herford-Street, Feb. 28th, 1777
Lord Germain did indeed approve the proposal, and General Burgoyne, newly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General, received his men and supplies. Of British and German soldiers, the force raised for the campaign amounted to 7,173 men. Of this number, sone 3,217 were Brunswick Germans.
On 06 May, 1777 Burgoyne landed between the red cliffs of Levis and the massive rock upon which Quebec was situated.
Just about everything was looking good for the campaign. The German troops who had been quartered at Quebec through the winter of 1776/77 were ready to get about the business of war. The winter had been so unusually mild, that the inhabitants called it the "German winter". The subordinate British officers were first-class. Even Sir Guy Carleton, seemed unfazed by the fact that, despite being the Governor of the Canadian colony, and the man with whom a campaign should at least have been discussed, he had been shamelessly ignored by Germain.