For political developments, including the origins and aftermath of the war, see American Revolution.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united former British colonies on the North American continent and ended in a global war between several European great powers. The war was the culmination of the political American Revolution, whereby the colonists and their allies overthrew British rule. In 1775, Revolutionaries gained control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, set up the unifying Second Continental Congress, and formed a Continental Army. The following year, they formally declared their independence as a new nation, the United States of America. In 1777 the Continentals captured a British army, leading to France entering the war on the side of the Americans in early 1778, and evening the military strength with Britain. Spain and the Dutch Republic – French allies – also went to war with Britain over the next two years.
Throughout the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside (where 90% of the population lived) largely eluded them due to their relatively small land army. French involvement proved decisive, with a French naval victory in the Chesapeake leading to the surrender of a second British army at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.
American Armies Edit
At the outset of the war, the Americans lacked a professional army and navy. Each state provided for its own defenses through the use of local militia. Militiamen were lightly armed, slightly trained, and usually did not have uniforms. Their units served for only a few weeks or months at a time, were reluctant to go very far from home, and were thus generally unavailable for extended operations. Militia lacked the training and discipline of regular soldiers but were more numerous and could overwhelm regular troops as at the battles of Concord, Bennington and Saratoga, and the siege of Boston. Both sides used partisan warfare but the Americans were particularly effective at suppressing Loyalist activity when British regulars were not in the area.
British Armies Edit
Early in 1775, the British Army consisted of about 36,000 men worldwide, but wartime recruitment steadily increased this number. Great Britain had a difficult time appointing general officers, however. General Thomas Gage, in command of British forces in North America when the rebellion started, was criticized for being too lenient. General Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst turned down an appointment as commander in chief due to an unwillingness to take sides in the conflict. Similarly, Admiral Augustus Keppel turned down a command, saying "I cannot draw the sword in such a cause." William Howe and John Burgoyne were both members of parliament who opposed military solutions to the American rebellion. Howe and Henry Clinton both made statements that they were not willing participants in the war, but were following orders.
Over the course of the war, Great Britain signed treaties with various German states, which supplied about 30,000 soldiers. Germans made up about one-third of the British troop strength in North America. Hesse-Kassel contributed more soldiers than any other state, and German soldiers came to be known as Hessians to the Americans. Rebel propagandists called German soldiers "foreign mercenaries," and they are scorned as such in the Declaration of Independence. By 1779, the number of British and German troops stationed in North America was over 60,000, although these were spread from Canada to Florida. About 10,000 Loyalist Americans under arms for the British are included in these figures.
An International War Edit
In 1778, the war over the rebellion in North America became international; spreading not only to Europe, but to the European colonies, chiefly in India. After learning of the American victory in Saratoga, France signed the Treaty of Alliance with the United States on February 6, 1778. Spain entered the war as an ally of France in June 1779, a renewal of the Bourbon Family Compact. Unlike France, however, Spain initially refused to recognize the independence of the United States — Spain was not keen on encouraging similar anti-colonial rebellions in the Spanish Empire. Both countries had quietly provided assistance to the Americans since the beginning of the war, hoping to dilute British power. So too had the Netherlands, eventually brought into open war at the end of 1780.
In London, King George III gave up hope of subduing America by more armies while Britain had a European war to fight. "It was a joke," he said, "to think of keeping Pennsylvania." There was no hope of recovering New England. But the King was determined "never to acknowledge the independence of the Americans, and to punish their contumacy by the indefinite prolongation of a war which promised to be eternal." His plan was to keep the 30,000 men garrisoned in New York, Rhode Island, in Canada, and in Florida; other forces would attack the French and Spanish in the West Indies. To punish the Americans the King planned to destroy their coasting-trade, bombard their ports; sack and burn towns along the coast (like New London, Connecticut), and turn loose the Native Americans to attack civilians in frontier settlements. These operations, the King felt, would inspire the Loyalists; would splinter the Congress; and "would keep the rebels harassed, anxious, and poor, until the day when, by a natural and inevitable process, discontent and disappointment were converted into penitence and remorse" and they would beg to return to his authority. The plan meant destruction for the Loyalists and loyal Native Americans, and indefinite prolongation of a costly war, as well as the risk of disaster as the French and Spanish were assembling an armada to invade the British isles and seize London. The British planned to re-subjugate the rebellious colonies after dealing with their European allies.
The northern, southern, and naval theaters of the war converged in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia. In early September, French naval forces defeated a British fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, cutting off Cornwallis' escape. Washington hurriedly moved American and French troops from New York, and a combined Franco-American force of 17,000 men commenced the Siege of Yorktown in early October. For several days, the French and Americans bombarded the British defenses. Cornwallis' position quickly became untenable, and he surrendered his entire army of 7,000 men on October 19, 1781.
With the surrender at Yorktown, King George lost control of Parliament to the peace party, and there were no further major military activities on land. The British had 30,000 garrison troops occupying New York City, Charleston, and Savannah. The war continued at sea between the British and the French fleets in the West Indies.
Treaty of Paris Edit
See article: Treaty of Paris
War Campaigns and Theaters Edit
Boston campaign Invasion of Canada (1775) New York and New Jersey campaign Saratoga campaign Philadelphia campaign Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War Western theater of the American Revolutionary War
Battles of The Revolutionary War Edit
* Powder Alarm * Battles of Lexington and Concord * Siege of Boston * Capture of Fort Ticonderoga * Battle of Crown Point * Battle of St. Johns * Battle of Chelsea Creek * Battle of Bunker Hill * Battle of Gloucester * Battle of Stonington * Burning of Falmouth * Battle of Kemp\'s Landing * Battle of Great Bridge * Battle of Fort Cumberland * Battle of Quebec * Burning of Norfolk * Battle of Moore\'s Creek Bridge * Battle of Nassau * Battle of the Rice Boats * Fortification of Dorchester Heights * Battle of Saint-Pierre * Battle of the Cedars * Battle of Trois-Rivières * Battle of Sullivan\'s Island * Battle of Long Island * Landing at Kip\'s Bay * Battle of Harlem Heights * Battle of Valcour Island * Battle of White Plains * Battle of Fort Washington * Battle of Fort Lee * Battle of Trenton * Second Battle of Trenton * Battle of Princeton * Battle of Millstone * Forage War * Battle of Bound Brook * Battle of Ridgefield * Battle of Short Hills * Second Battle of Ticonderoga * Battle of Hubbardton * Battle of Fort Ann * Siege of Fort Stanwix * Battle of Oriskany * Battle of Bennington * Battle of Staten Island * Battle of Cooch\'s Bridge * Battle of Brandywine * Battle of the Clouds * Battle of Freeman\'s Farm * Battle of Paoli * Battle of Germantown * Battle of Red Bank * Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery * Battle of Bemis Heights * Battle of Fort Mercer * Bombardment of Fort Mifflin * Battle of Chesnut Hill * Battle of White Marsh * Battle of Matson\'s Ford * Battle of Quinton\'s Bridge * Battle of Crooked Billet * Battle of Barren Hill * Battle of Freetown * Battle of Monmouth * Battle of Alligator Bridge * Wyoming Massacree * Battle of Rhode Island * Baylor Massacre * Little Egg Harbor massacre * Battle of Chestnut Neck * Carleton\'s Raid * Cherry Valley Massacre * Capture of Savannah * Battle of Beaufort * Battle of Kettle Creek * Battle of Vincennes * Battle of Briar Creek * Battle of Stono Ferry * Battle of Stony Point * Penobscot Expedition * Battle of Paulus * Battle of Newtown * Siege of Savannah * Battle of Flamborough Head * Battle of Cape St. Vincent * Battle of Young\'s House * Siege of Charleston * Battle of Monck\'s Corner * Battle of Lenud\'s Ferry * Bird\'s invasion of Kentucky * Waxhaw Massacre * Battle of Connecticut Farms * Battle of Ramseur\'s Mill * Battle of Springfield * Battle of Rocky Mount * Battle of Hanging Rock * Battle of Pekowee * Battle of Camden * Battle of Fishing Creek * Battle of Musgrove Mill * Battle of Kings Mountain * Royalton Raid * Battle of Klock\'s Field * Battle of Blackstock\'s Plantation * Battle of Jersey * Battle of Cowpens * Battle of Cowan\'s Ford * Battle of Haw River * Battle of Wetzell\'s Mill * Battle of Guilford Court House * Battle of Blanford * Battle of Hobkirk\'s Hill * Battle of Fort Motte * Siege of Augusta * Siege of Ninety-Six * Battle of Spencer\'s Ordinary * Francisco\'s Fight * Battle of Greenspring Farm * Battle of Groton Heights * Battle of Eutaw Springs * Battle of Cane Creek * Siege of Yorktown * Battle of Johnstown