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The British had three options available for the campaign of 1777. These options would effectively cut off New England from the other colonies, thus allowing the British to stop the spread of the fighting and to continue the war in New England.

These three options, proposed by William Howe, gave Germain alternatives to pursue for the 1777 campaign season. These options included a major role for Burgoyne's ambitious plan to invade from Canada to take Albany New York. Germain approved of all the options proposed by Howe and the adventure proposed by Burgoyne.

The Three Plans

Plan 1 
For Howe's first plan, he requested 15 thousand additional troops. He would post 8 thousand in New Jersey; 2 thousand troops would tie down Washington; 2 thousand would garrison Newport, and 5 thousand would garrison New York. Ten thousand would march to Albany and 10 thousand would be sent from Newport to Boston. These plans would effectively split the colonies in half.

Howe believed that New England was the bedrock of the rebellion and if executed, this option would cut it off from the other colonies. Germain approved of this plan because it provided safeguards for Burgoyne coming from Canada and the Americans would not be able to concentrate forces against Burgoyne if Howe tied them down elsewhere. Germain, cut back on the amount of troops he sent to Howe because he thought that Howe was exaggerating losses.

Plan 2 
The second option proposed by Howe is commonly called the "lure of the capital." The objective of this option was to take Philadelphia by land, which was believed to be a shattering blow to the Americans. Three thousand troops would be sent to the lower Hudson, 4 thousand would be in New York and 2 thousand would be in Newport, and 10 thousand troops would forage in Delaware.

The problem with this plan was that it was reckless. There would be no support for Burgoyne's army and there would be the danger of river crossings for the British army; furthermore, Washington was not pinned down.

Burgoyne thought that it would take time for his force to reach Albany, and that taking Ticonderoga would not be all that easy. Howe could then attempt this plan with the hope that once Howe's objective was accomplished, he could send forces up to Albany. Burgoyne thus began his mission on 13 June 1777. The one merit to this plan was that the British could take Philadelphia and Boston, if Howe had enough forces.

Plan 3 
Howe then sent Germain a modified third plan. This plan's objective would take Philadelphia by sea not by land, thus bypassing the river crossings of the second plan. Howe would use 250 ships to transport his troops to the embarkment point on the Chesapeake; the troops then would march on Philadelphia. This plan would force Washington to defend Philadelphia. Howe hoped to confront the American army along the Hudson and Ciscohana rivers.

Germain approved of this plan and Howe set out on his mission on 23 June 1777. Burgoyne was not told of the modification. Germain's role in the campaign was to coordinate the movements of the British army. However, Germain had a problem of distance and uncertain intelligence to deal with. From what intelligence information Germain had, he approved of the plans that he received from his commanders. Germain thought that Washington was defeated and that Washington was unable to raise a second army to face the British. In addition, due to lack of intelligence, Germain thought that Howe was exaggerating losses therefore he sent fewer troops. He made his decisions before he received news of the Trenton disaster.

The Consequences

All three plans proposed by Howe had fatal flaws because he divided his forces, leaving one force dangling, which could be cut off by Washington's army. Howe like other British officers underestimated the Americans.

He thought the Americans were stronger than they actually were, thus he requested more troops to fulfill these options. In addition, Howe and Burgoyne were overconfident about the British fighting capability. Howe in particular did not think he always attacked.

The British failed because they overestimated their military might and underestimated the Americans fighting spirit and psychological make up. Burgoyne's invasion, though successful early on, soon ran into trouble. Burgoyne underestimated the terrain of the North and consequently he failed to make modifications in his marching procedure.

The baggage train was too long, over 130 wagons made up the train, of these 130 wagons, 30 carried Burgoyne's personal belongings alone. Burgoyne failed to keep a tight reign on the Indians that accompanied the British invasion force. It was because of the Indians butchering of one Jane Mcrae that brought out the Americans in the thousands, it caused the Americans literally go out for blood. The army was so ragged by the time they reached Saratoga that the only way Burgoyne was going to survive, was to surrender.

General Howe had it much easier but he also had his problems. It took the British army six weeks to reach the Chesapeake embarkment point. The British army defeated the Americans at Brandywine creek, then marched on to Philadelphia and took the city.

Howe garrisoned some troops at Germantown, outside Philadelphia. Like at Trenton and Princeton, Washington attempted to take by surprise this garrison. He almost did it but the Americans did not fight well enough in the fog. The British almost lost the garrison and Howe almost lost his army.

Howe achieved his objective but he was reckless in doing so. He divided his forces even though he should have known better. He should have remembered from experience what Washington was capable of doing.

Howe is the man who must take responsibility for the British failure of 1777. Howe achieved his objective but he failed to give Burgoyne the necessary support in Burgoyne's campaign. Howe became too reckless in using his forces against Washington. When news of the Saratoga disaster reached Howe, he tendered his resignation.

The outcome of the British debacle was that they succeeded in creating a world war out of a popular uprising. The French entered the war on the side of the Americans publicly in 1778. Now the French could exact revenge upon the British for her loss of the seven years war.

The British to all intents and purposes lost the war at Saratoga. All was over but the fighting. The British now had to concentrate on the colonies, and on protecting her other possessions. The war in the colonies was over in the North; the fighting would shift to the South.