The British strategy was to cut-off New England colonies and capture Phaladelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress, to give a blow to the colonists. General Burgoyne was to march for Canada and to join General Howe. After severing New England southward campaign was to be undertaken.
As planned, Burgyone set out from Montreal and moving through the St. Lawrence River and the Lake of Champlain proceeded to Ticonderoga. He captured Ticonderoga on July 16,1777 and three weeks later took Fort Edward.
Meanwhile, Howe as expected, did not carry out the plans to join Burgyone. He instead attacked the rebel capital of Philadelphia. He proceeded by sea through the Chesapeake Bay and landed at Philadelphia on August 25, 1777. After defeating the colonists in the Battle of Brandywine he captured the city of Philadelphia on September 27,1777.
Burgoyne did not receive reinforcement and proceeded to execute the plans himself. This proved disastrous for the British, On his way to South he was harassed by the hidden Yankee farmers. Thus the English suffered some reverses at Oriskary (New York), at Bermington (Vermont) and finally Saratoga. The last battle proved decisive as the colonists army under General Gates, Arnold and Schuyler outnumbered the English and Burgyone had to surrender on Ocotber 19, 1777.
The time which followed the victory of Saratoga was a period of great difficulties for the American forces and the Congress. General Howe had occupied Phaladelphia and Congress had moved to York (Pennsylvania). The American army under George Washington had to suffer in the chilly weather when they were poorly clad and without food and shelter.
Washington did not want to move much away from Philadelphia because it could create a wedge between North and South and defeat his plans. So he stationed about 18 miles away from Philadelphia throughout the winter. It was a severe test of patriotism for the Americans, which they could withstand. For two winters Washington’s army remained at Valley Forge. At this place the army was trained and reorganized under the guidance of a distinguished German Commander.
At the same time Henry Knox also made efforts to prepare the troops for the future contest. Thus Valley Forge made the soldiers patriotic and iron willed and no force could prevent them from attaining independence. For more than a year after Saratoga there was no great battle and the final phase of war was at hand.