Burgoyne spent three weeks cutting a road through the ledges and swamps of the American wilderness, in very hot and humid summer weather. As he approached the Hudson River at Fort Edward, his progress came to a halt. The supply-line, that extended from Quebec, down Lake Champlain to Whitehall and either by road via Fort Ann or by boat over Lake George, was hampered by a lack of draft animals, carts and wagons. Without adequate provisions, Burgoyne's army could not proceed.
The presence of Burgoyne's idle army caused unrest in nearby settlements, which was driven by the colonist’s fear of the Indians. When a group of Indians scalped the fiancé of an American Loyalist in Burgoyne's service at Fort Edward, stories of the “massacre of Jane McCrea” become a rallying call for the American cause, and demonstrated Burgoyne's inability to control the Native forces he unleashed on a citizen population. He must find a way to control his weapons of terror.
Things go from bad to worse on August 3rdwhen a letter from Howe finally makes it through the enemy lines to Burgoyne. The letter indicated that Howe was going to pursue George Washington to Philadelphia on the Delaware River instead of sailing north on the Hudson to meet Burgoyne's army at Albany. Although Burgoyne did not know it at the time, forces were already on their way to lift St Leger’s siege on Fort Stanwix on the Mohawk, which would cause him to withdraw to Quebec. Burgoyne was now on his own for this campaign, and aware of a Rebel force that lay between his army and the object of their expedition. He knew he must make it to Albany before winter, or face the humiliation of returning to Canada.
On August 4, Burgoyne issued an order for an excursion force to obtain much needed provisions, draft animals and carts for the supply line, horses for the mounted regiments. In addition, he wanted to raise Loyalist support and create a diversion for the body of the army, which remained in Fort Edward. Burgoyne selected Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, commander of the Brunswick Dragoons to lead the excursion, which was to proceed as far as Rockingham, by way of Arlington and Manchester, to Brattleboro before returning to Albany.