The American War for Independence started when the colonists requested that King George III to abolish the Intolerable Acts, but King George dismissed it. So then, the colonists got mad, and started a small rebellion, they trained militiamen and stored weapons. But when the British in Boston heard of this, they decided to steal their weapons that are being held in Concord, Massachusetts, to show their disapproval of their rebellion.
Then 2 men living Boston, Paul Revere and William Dawes, went to go warn the colonists of the British who were coming. Then a group of militiamen gathered at Lexington, and that’s where the “shot heard round the world” was heard in April 18, 1775, we still don’t know who shot it.
This was the Battle of Lexington, it was only a couple of minutes long. The militia captain did not want to waste his men, so they retreated quickly, and that was the end.
So the British moved on to Concord, which is a 17 miles walk from Boston. The militiamen who knew the British were coming, hid the weapons and hid afar, as the British were searching for weapons, some muskets or foods that were thrown in ponds by the British but the colonists eventually found them after the Battle of Concord.
The militiamen had a number of 400 soldiers, there were some from other colonies, they saw some smoke from Concord, so they started marching to Concord, not to fight, but to see what the British were doing in Concord. Although they met some British soldiers on the Northern Bridge, who were guarding it. In this battle, the British fired first, but was not ordered to, and the militia who were surprised, was ordered to fire back.
This was the Battle of Concord, surprisingly enough the militiamen were able to defeat the British troops and chase after them all the way back to Boston, which led up to the Siege of Boston. They sieged around Boston, surrounding the British troops, although the port was still open, but they were surrounded on land.
Only 2 months after the Battle of Concord, the militiamen grew to 15,000 men and just camped outside of Boston, while the British soldiers only had about 6,000 men. During this siege, the Continental Congress made George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the militiamen.
On June 13, 1775, information was leaked to the colonists saying that the British were going to send soldiers to occupy Bunker and Breed’s Hill that was unoccupied at the time. So, the colonists decided to march over there the day before the British arrive and they also built some earthworks as defense.
When the British arrived, the colonists were there already and built defenses, although that didn’t stop the British from attacking. This battle included both Bunker and Breed’s Hill, but the Battle of Bunker Hill is the popular name for battle. Although in the end, the colonists lost and retreated to the city of Cambridge, but the British suffered huge losses, and the colonists only suffered 367 casualties, compared to the British of 1054.
Then in July 5th, 1775, the Continental Congress wrote the Olive Branch Petition to Britain, saying that they would cease all hostilities if the British would remove the Intolerable Acts. But King George III dismissed it, and said that the colonies to be in a full and open rebellion, this officially started the American Revolutionary War.
Then in January 10th, 1776, the pamphlet Common Sense was published by Thomas Paine, this pamphlet was really influential in spreading the idea of separation. Finally in July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written and the United States officially separated from Great Britain.
During the winter of 1775-1776, one of Washington’s general, Benedict Arnold led the colonial army through some successes in the northern region. He captured Fort Ticonderoga, which gave the Continental Army some extra artillery. After the success of Fort Ticonderoga, he and his commander, Ethan Allen, fought through the province of Quebec capturing ships and supplies as they go.
The colonists had a great start of the war, but later in 1776, the British regained their position, they controlled Boston, took New York after a couple of battles, and took Philadelphia as well.
The only big part for the colonies in 1776, is the Battle of Trenton, which took place the day after Christmas, and it happened after Washington and his men bravely crossed the frozen Delaware River at night and surprised the British troops at Trenton.
After the success at Trenton, only about a week and a half later, the Battle of Princeton was also a big success. But the Battle of Saratoga, further north, was the important point of the war. In 1777, during the Battle of Saratoga, 5,700 British troops surrendered to Major General Horatio Gates.
Let’s talk about the Generals of the war.
Other than George Washington there are a total of 77 other officer, all commissioned by the Congress to serve as officers in the war. I’ll just be talking about a few, including George Washington, Nathanael Greene, Benedict Arnold, Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Knox, Baron von Steuben, Horatio Gates, and Francis Marion
George Washington was an important general, as we all know. His ability to encourage and stand by his men, gave him the position of Commander-in-Chief. Although he did suffer many losses, but he continually improved throughout the war. After the American Revolution, Washington was a hero and, as we all know, became the first president under the Constitution.
Next is Nathanael Greene, he was the officer that Washington trusted most. He was successful in his campaign in the southern colonies, which was extremely useful, especially in the Carolinas. General Cornwallis, a British general, was forced by Greene to abandon his attacks in the Carolinas and move up north. After the war, Greene eventually had some financial difficulties and died in 1786.
Benedict Arnold had the tactical abilities and strength. He was a spectacular leader and great tactician. His successes in leading the soldiers in the Canada region and at Saratoga was a huge confidence boost for the army. But in the Battle of Saratoga, he received a leg wound, and ended his combat career for couple years. He began to doubt that the colonists weren’t able to win the war, so he eventually changed sides with the British and served as a brigadier general and continued to server for the British till the end of the war. Since he was not welcome in America anymore, he lived in England, till his death in 1801.
Next is Marquis de Lafayette, he was a young French general, who developed as both a general and ambassador during the War. Because he was from France, he was able to get the French to support the Continental Army. After the American Revolutionary War, he returned to his homeland of, France, where he got caught in the French Revolution. He was able to escape it and lived until 1834.
Next is Henry Knox, was very helpful with artillery. He helped transport and put to good use of the guns captured at Ticonderoga, these guns were first used at the Siege of Boston. When the colonists received more artillery, Knox became the supervisor for all artillery operation. He then became a trusted officer of Washington’s and served as the First Secretary of War in United States after the War. After his term as the Secretary of War, Knox retired in Maine in 1795 and died 1806.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian military officer joined the Continental Army. He was invited to join Washington’s army as the Inspector General. Because of his experience in training troops, he was the most capable officer in training and leading the troops. During his time there, he wrote a book, known as the “Blue Book” that was used up to 1812 for training new military members.
Horatio Gates, he started off pretty well in the war, was credited for the victory at Saratoga, some people even said that he should replace Washington. But they didn’t, which was actually a good thing. Gates suffered some really bad losses later in his career. He only led his troops from the rear, thinking that he could manage the battle that way. But in the Battle of Camden, he actually rode 60 miles away from the battle in fear for his loss. Later, historians accused him for not having enough courage or tactical skill in battle. But somehow, he was able to get away with court-martial for his mistakes at the Battle of Camden.
The last, but not least commander I will be talking about is Francis Marion. He most commonly known as the “Swamp Fox” for his unusual tactics. Marion was one of the firsts to use guerilla tactics successfully and attacked and angered the British troops in the southern colonies. Although he is often considered a hero, but his fighting style was very harsh, he usually had worse casualties than the British troops. After the war, he served as the Southern Carolina Senate for a period of times, till his death in 1795.
So continuing the war, in the winter of 1777 was a pretty harsh one. The continental army stayed at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where almost a fifth of the army died. This also where Baron von Steuben came and helped the army back into shape. Then in 1778 the British moved south.
One of a major battle was the capture of Savannah, Georgia, where most of Georgia was controlled by the British. Afterwards, it was followed by the victories of Charleston and Camden.
Charleston was a heavy loss for the Continental Army, but Camden was even worse. As we know, General Horatio Gates fled, and 900 colonists were killed and 1,000 captured, compared to the British, where only about 300 men were killed and wounded. After the defeat at Camden, Washington replaced Gates with Nathanael Greene as the new commander.
Greene was a great leader the army ever had. He and his general, Daniel Morgan, won the battles of Cowpens and King’s Mountain. Then in the Battle of Guilford Court House, just like Bunker Hill, the British were able to capture Guilford Court House, but received a heavy loss, and needed reinforcement. So Cornwallis, who was leading the British at the time, retreated to Yorktown in order to get more reinforcement. This is where the Battle of Capes occurred, between the British fleet and a French fleet, in the end, the British surrendered.
Then the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, couple of years later, and announced the United States an independent nation.