Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Robert Valentine

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Robertson


From the spring of 1776 to the summer of 1777, there was a looming threat to the northern region of the colony of New York bordering Canada. Across the border, British forces were marshaling for an invasion. Finally, in June of 1777, the inevitable came true; British General John Burgoyne moved south from St. John’s toward Lake Champlain in upstate New York with an army numbering approximately 9,500. This diverse force consisted of British army regulars, hired German troops, Indian allies, Canadian volunteers and loyalists, and a glut of camp followers, who helped support Burgoyne’s army. His aim was to move south to the city of Albany to link up with two other British armies approaching from the west and the south. These advances were intended to gain British tactical control over the Hudson River Valley, thereby separating the New England colonies (which the British saw as the spark of the rebellion) from the rest of the American colonies. The plan was known as “The Grand Strategy”, and it had been approved by the British High Command towards the end of the previous year as the overriding strategy for the 1777 campaign season. The “Grand Strategy”, however, was flawed from its inception. Resistance to the British advances by Patriot forces and militias, aided by local communities, was completely underestimated by the British. This flaw was exacerbated by the forbidding terrain of upstate New York, as well as a complete failure of coordination between Burgoyne’s advance from the north, Colonel Barry St. Leger’s advance from the west, and General William Howe’s forces positioned to the south in New York City.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.