The three agreed that Baltimore, not Washington DC, should be the final objective of their campaign. Ross wanted to bypass Washington altogether as it was a small city of little military importance, while Baltimore was a major port and the nation's third largest city. Ross pointed out that he had only 3,000 infantry, no cavalry, no artillery, and absolutely no knowledge of the fortifications which surely must have been constructed to protect the capitol.
But Cockburn was adamant on the subject of taking Washington. Far more flamboyant than Ross, the Admiral desired the glory of riding triumphantly into the enemy's capital. He was quick to assure Ross that whatever resistance the Americans offered, it would be both, half-hearted and short-lived. In the end both, Ross and Vice Admiral Cockrane agreed to take the risk.
The plan called for Ross' force, augmented by 1,000 of Cockburn's sailors and marines, to move north keeping parallel with the Patuxent River as far as possible before turning west towards Washington. Cockburn would keep pace with him via the river providing naval gun fire as needed until the river became too shallow to allow the ships passage.
On August 19 and continuing through the 20th, Major General Ross's landing force of approximately 4,370 British troops began coming ashore at Benedict, just over the Prince George's County line in Charles County. After a night there, Ross began their march towards Washington only to discover his men were exhausted and suffering from the heat. They traveled only 6 miles before camping in Patuxent City, also in Charles County.