1764 Jan 1
, Boston

The French and Indian War, part of the wider global conflict known as the Seven Years' War, ended with the 1763 Peace of Paris, which expelled France from its possessions in New France.

The 1763 to 1765 Grenville ministry instructed the Royal Navy to stop the trade of smuggled goods and enforce customs duties levied in American ports. The most important was the 1733 Molasses Act; routinely ignored prior to 1763, it had a significant economic impact since 85% of New England rum exports were manufactured from imported molasses. These measures were followed by the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, which imposed additional taxes on the colonies to pay for defending the western frontier.

Tensions escalated following the destruction of a customs vessel in the June 1772 Gaspee Affair, then came to a head in 1773. A banking crisis led to the near-collapse of the East India Company, which dominated the British economy; to support it, Parliament passed the Tea Act, giving it a trading monopoly in the Thirteen Colonies. Since most American tea was smuggled by the Dutch, the Act was opposed by those who managed the illegal trade, while being seen as yet another attempt to impose the principle of taxation by Parliament.

Bostonians reading about the Stamp Act

Stamp Act

1765 Jan 1
, Boston

The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which imposed a direct tax on the British colonies in America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp.

Quartering Act

Quartering Act

1765 May 15
, New York

General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of forces in British North America, and other British officers who had fought in the French and Indian War (including Major James Robertson), had found it hard to persuade colonial assemblies to pay for quartering and provisioning of troops on the march. Therefore, he asked Parliament to do something. Most colonies had supplied provisions during the war, but the issue was disputed in peacetime. This first Quartering Act was given Royal Assent on May 15, 1765, and provided that Great Britain would house its soldiers in American barracks and public houses, as by the Mutiny Act 1765, but if its soldiers outnumbered the housing available, would quarter them in "inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or metheglin", and if numbers required in "uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings." Colonial authorities were required to pay the cost of housing and feeding these soldiers.

The Boston Massacre | ©Don Troiani

Boston Massacre

1770 Mar 5
, Boston

The Boston Massacre was a confrontation on March 5, 1770, in which British soldiers shot and killed several people while being harassed by a mob in Boston. The event was heavily publicized by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.

The Boston Committee of Correspondence often gathered at the Liberty Tree.

Committees of correspondence

1772 Jan 1
, New England

The function of the committees was to alert the residents of a given colony of the actions taken by the British Crown, and to disseminate information from cities to the countryside. The news was typically spread via hand-written letters or printed pamphlets, which would be carried by couriers on horseback or aboard ships. The committees were responsible for ensuring that this news accurately reflected the views, and was dispatched to the proper receiving groups. Many correspondents were members of colonial legislative assemblies, and others were also active in the Sons of Liberty and Stamp Act Congress.

A total of about 7,000 to 8,000 Patriots served on these committees at the colonial and local levels, comprising most of the leadership in their communities; Loyalists were naturally excluded. The committees became the leaders of the American resistance to Great Britain, and largely determined the war effort at the state and local level. When Congress decided to boycott British products, the colonial and local committees took charge, examining merchant records and publishing the names of merchants who attempted to defy the boycott.

The committees promoted patriotism and home manufacturing, advising Americans to avoid luxuries, and lead a more simple life. The committees gradually extended their power over many aspects of American public life. They set up espionage networks to identify disloyal elements, displaced royal officials, and helped diminish the influence of the British government in each of the colonies.

Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party

1773 Dec 16
, Boston

The Boston Tea Party was an American political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Protesters, some disguised as American Indians, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.

Intolerable Acts

Intolerable Acts

1774 Mar 31
, London

The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest in reaction to changes in taxation by the British Government.

First Continental Congress

First Continental Congress

1774 Sep 5
, Carpenter's Hall

The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the United States. It met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after the British Navy instituted a blockade of Boston Harbor and Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts in response to the December 1773 Boston Tea Party. During the opening weeks of the Congress, the delegates conducted a spirited discussion about how the colonies could collectively respond to the British government's coercive actions, and they worked to make a common cause.

Battle of Lexington | ©William Barnes Wollen

Battles of Lexington and Concord

1775 Apr 19
, Middlesex County

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, also called the Shot Heard 'Round the World, were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. The battles were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge. They marked the outbreak of armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Patriot militias from America's thirteen colonies.

In late 1774, Colonial leaders adopted the Suffolk Resolves in resistance to the alterations made to the Massachusetts colonial government by the British parliament following the Boston Tea Party. The colonial assembly responded by forming a Patriot provisional government known as the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and calling for local militias to train for possible hostilities. The Colonial government effectively controlled the colony outside of British-controlled Boston. In response, the British government in February 1775 declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion.

About 700 British Army regulars in Boston, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, were given secret orders to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. Through effective intelligence gathering, Patriot leaders had received word weeks before the expedition that their supplies might be at risk and had moved most of them to other locations. On the night before the battle, warning of the British expedition had been rapidly sent from Boston to militias in the area by several riders, including Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, with information about British plans. The initial mode of the Army's arrival by water was signaled from the Old North Church in Boston to Charlestown using lanterns to communicate "one if by land, two if by sea".

The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington. Eight militiamen were killed, including Ensign Robert Munroe, their third in command. The British suffered only one casualty. The militia was outnumbered and fell back, and the regulars proceeded on to Concord, where they broke apart into companies to search for the supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 400 militiamen engaged 100 regulars from three companies of the King's troops at about 11:00 am, resulting in casualties on both sides. The outnumbered regulars fell back from the bridge and rejoined the main body of British forces in Concord.

The British forces began their return march to Boston after completing their search for military supplies, and more militiamen continued to arrive from the neighboring towns. Gunfire erupted again between the two sides and continued throughout the day as the regulars marched back towards Boston. Upon returning to Lexington, Lt. Col. Smith's expedition was rescued by reinforcements under Brigadier General Hugh Percy, a future Duke of Northumberland styled at this time by the courtesy title Earl Percy. The combined force of about 1,700 men marched back to Boston under heavy fire in a tactical withdrawal and eventually reached the safety of Charlestown. The accumulated militias then blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, starting the siege of Boston.

Siege of Boston

Siege of Boston

1775 Apr 19 - 1776 Mar 17
, Boston

In the morning after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Boston was surrounded by a huge militia army, numbering over 15,000, which had marched from throughout New England. Unlike the Powder Alarm, the rumors of spilled blood were true, and the Revolutionary War had begun. Now under the leadership of General Artemas Ward, who arrived on the 20th and replaced Brigadier General William Heath, they formed a siege line extending from Chelsea, around the peninsulas of Boston and Charlestown, to Roxbury, effectively surrounding Boston on three sides. In the days immediately following, the size of the colonial forces grew, as militias from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut arrived on the scene. The Second Continental Congress adopted these men into the beginnings of the Continental Army. Even now, after open warfare had started, Gage still refused to impose martial law in Boston. He persuaded the town's selectmen to surrender all private weapons in return for promising that any inhabitant could leave town. The siege of Boston was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War.

A print depicting Ethan Allen's Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775.

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

1775 May 10
, Ticonderoga

The capture of Fort Ticonderoga occurred during the American Revolutionary War on May 10, 1775, when a small force of Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold surprised and captured the fort's small British garrison. The cannons and other armaments at Fort Ticonderoga were later transported to Boston by Colonel Henry Knox and used to fortify Dorchester Heights and break the standoff at the siege of Boston.
Continental Army formed

Continental Army formed

1775 Jun 14
, New England

On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the creation of an army of the United Colonies to fight against the British in the American Revolutionary War. This army, known as the Continental Army, was formed out of necessity because the colonies had no standing army or navy before the war. The army was composed of citizen-soldiers who volunteered to serve and was led by George Washington, who was appointed Commander-in-Chief by the Continental Congress. The Continental Army was organized into regiments, divisions, and companies and was essential to the war effort, from their initial stand at Boston in 1775 to the victory at Yorktown in 1781. The dedication and excellent leadership of George Washington and the citizen-soldiers enabled the Continental Army to overcome the vastly superior forces of the British and secure American independence.

Battle of Bunker's Hill

Battle of Bunker Hill

1775 Jun 17
, Charlestown

The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston in the first stage of the American Revolutionary War. The British forces, led by General William Howe, ultimately won the battle, but at a significant cost. The American forces, led by Colonels William Prescott and Israel Putnam, inflicted heavy casualties on the British before being forced to retreat. The battle is considered a tactical victory for the British but a strategic victory for the Americans as it showed that the colonial militia could stand up against the British army.

Invasion of Quebec

Invasion of Quebec

1775 Aug 1 - 1776 Oct
, Lake Champlain

Beginning in August 1775, American privateers raided towns in Nova Scotia, including Saint John, Charlottetown, and Yarmouth. In 1776, John Paul Jones and Jonathan Eddy attacked Canso and Fort Cumberland respectively. British officials in Quebec began negotiating with the Iroquois for their support, while US envoys urged them to remain neutral. Aware of Native American leanings toward the British and fearing an Anglo-Indian attack from Canada, Congress authorized a second invasion in April 1775.

The Invasion of Quebec was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The objective of the campaign was to seize the Province of Quebec (part of modern-day Canada) from Great Britain, and persuade French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. One expedition left Fort Ticonderoga under Richard Montgomery, besieged and captured Fort St. Johns, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton when taking Montreal. The other expedition, under Benedict Arnold, left Cambridge, Massachusetts and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec City.

Montgomery's expedition set out from Fort Ticonderoga in late August, and in mid-September began besieging Fort St. Johns, the main defensive point south of Montreal. After the fort was captured in November, Carleton abandoned Montreal, fleeing to Quebec City, and Montgomery took control of Montreal before heading for Quebec with an army much reduced in size by expiring enlistments. There he joined Arnold, who had left Cambridge in early September on an arduous trek through the wilderness that left his surviving troops starving and lacking in many supplies and equipment.

Joseph Brant (above), also known as Thayendanegea, led an attack on Col. Lochry (1781) that ended George Rogers Clark's plans to attack Detroit. Image by Gilbert Stuart 1786.

Western theater of the American Revolutionary War

1775 Oct 1 - 1782
, Ohio River

The Western theater of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was the area of conflict west of the Appalachian Mountains, the region which became the Northwest Territory of the United States as well as what would become the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Spanish Louisiana. The western war was fought between American Indians with their British allies in Detroit, and American settlers south and east of the Ohio River, and also the Spanish as allies of the latter.

Dunmore's Proclamation

Dunmore's Proclamation

1775 Nov 7
, Virginia

Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, was determined to maintain British rule in the colonies and promised to free those enslaved men of rebel owners who fought for him. On November 7, 1775, he issued Dunmore's Proclamation: "I do hereby further declare all indented servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) free, that are able and willing to bear arms, they joining His Majesty's Troops." By December 1775 the British army had 300 enslaved men wearing a military uniform. Sewn-on the breast of the uniform was the inscription "Liberty to Slaves". These enslaved men were designated as "Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment."

Dunmore's proclamation angered the colonists, as they turned many African American slaves against them, serving as another contributor to the spark of the revolution. The opposition to the proclamation is directly referenced in the United States Declaration of Independence. The support of African American slaves would become an essential element to the Revolutionary Army and the British Army, and it would become a competition between both sides to enlist as many African American Slaves as possible.

Dunmore's Black soldiers aroused fear among some Patriots. The Ethiopian unit was used most frequently in the South, where the African population was oppressed to the breaking point. As a response to expressions of fear posed by armed Black men, in December 1775, Washington wrote a letter to Colonel Henry Lee III, stating that success in the war would come to whatever side could arm Black men the fastest; therefore, he suggested policy to execute any of the enslaved who would attempt to gain freedom by joining the British effort. It is estimated that 20,000 African Americans joined the British cause, which promised freedom to enslaved people, as Black Loyalists. Around 9,000 African Americans became Black Patriots.

Battle of Great Bridge

Battle of Great Bridge

1775 Dec 9
, Chesapeake

Following increasing political and military tensions in early 1775, both Dunmore and colonial rebel leaders recruited troops and engaged in a struggle for available military supplies. The struggle eventually focused on Norfolk, where Dunmore had taken refuge aboard a Royal Navy vessel. Dunmore's forces had fortified one side of a critical river crossing south of Norfolk at Great Bridge, while rebel forces had occupied the other side. In an attempt to break up the rebel gathering, Dunmore ordered an attack across the bridge, which was decisively repulsed. Colonel William Woodford, the Virginia militia commander at the battle, described it as "a second Bunker's Hill affair". Shortly thereafter, Norfolk, at the time a Loyalist center, was abandoned by Dunmore and the Tories, who fled to navy ships in the harbor. Rebel-occupied Norfolk was destroyed on January 1, 1776 in an action begun by Dunmore and completed by rebel forces.

The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec | ©John Trumbull

Battle of Quebec

1775 Dec 31
, Québec

The Battle of Quebec was fought on December 31, 1775, between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of Quebec City early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came with heavy losses. General Richard Montgomery was killed, Benedict Arnold was wounded, and Daniel Morgan and more than 400 men were taken prisoner. The city's garrison, a motley assortment of regular troops and militia led by Quebec's provincial governor, General Guy Carleton, suffered a small number of casualties.

Thomas Paine

Common Sense

1776 Jan 10
, Philadelphia

On January 10, 1775, "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine was published. The pamphlet was a call to arms for the American colonies to declare their independence from British rule. Paine wrote in a clear and persuasive style, making a case for American independence that was easily understood by the average person.

The main argument Paine makes in "Common Sense" is that the American colonies should break away from British rule because they are not truly represented in the British government and are instead being unfairly governed by a distant and corrupt monarchy. He argues that the idea of a "virtual representation" in which the colonists are supposed to be represented by British members of parliament is a fallacy and that the colonists should instead govern themselves.

Paine also makes the case that the colonies have the natural right to govern themselves, citing the fact that the colonies are separated by a wide ocean from Britain and have their own distinct societies, economies, and interests. He argues that the colonists have the ability to create a just and equal society based on the principles of democracy and republicanism.

Paine also criticizes the idea of monarchy and hereditary rule, arguing that it is unjust and a relic of a bygone era. He instead argues that government should be based on the consent of the governed and should be a republic governed by elected representatives.

The pamphlet was widely read and had a major influence on the American revolution, helping to mobilize support for independence. It was an instant success, with 50,000 copies distributed in the colonies within three months of publication. This work is considered as one of the most influential pamphlet on the American Revolution and on the course of Western history.

Patriot Militia

Battle of the Rice Boats

1776 Mar 2 - Mar 3
, Savannah

In December 1775, the British Army was besieged in Boston. In need of provisions, a Royal Navy fleet was sent to Georgia to purchase rice and other supplies. The arrival of this fleet prompted the colonial rebels (Patriot militia) who controlled the Georgia government to arrest the British Royal Governor, James Wright, and to resist the British seizure and removal of supply ships anchored at Savannah. Some of the supply ships were burned to prevent their seizure, some were recaptured, but most were successfully taken by the British.

Governor Wright escaped from his confinement and safely reached one of the fleet's ships. His departure marked the end of British control over Georgia, although it was briefly restored when Savannah was retaken by the British in 1778. Wright again ruled from 1779 to 1782, when British troops were finally withdrawn during the closing days of the war.

An engraving depicting the British evacuation of Boston, March 17, 1776, at the end of the Siege of Boston

British evacuate Boston

1776 Mar 17
, Boston

Between November 1775 and February 1776, Colonel Henry Knox and a team of engineers used sledges to retrieve 60 tons of heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga, bringing them across the frozen Hudson and Connecticut rivers in a difficult, complex operation. They arrived back at Cambridge on January 24, 1776. Some of the Ticonderoga cannons were of a size and range not previously available to the Americans. They were placed in fortifications around the city, and the Americans began to bombard the city on the night of March 2, 1776, to which the British responded with cannonades of their own. The American guns under the direction of Colonel Knox continued to exchange fire with the British until March 4.

On March 10, 1776, General Howe issued a proclamation ordering the inhabitants of Boston to give up all linen and woolen goods that could be used by the colonists to continue the war. Over the next week, the British fleet sat in Boston harbor waiting for favorable winds, while Loyalists and British soldiers were loaded onto the ships. During this time, American naval vessels outside the harbor successfully captured several British supply ships.

On March 17, the British began to move out at 4:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., all ships were underway. The fleet departing from Boston included 120 ships, with more than 11,000 people on board. The British abandoned Boston after eleven months and transferred their troops and equipment to Nova Scotia.

Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

Battle of the Cedars

1776 May 18 - May 27
, Les Cèdres

The Battle of the Cedars was a series of military confrontations early in the American Revolutionary War during the Continental Army's invasion of Canada that had begun in September 1775. The skirmishes, which involved limited combat, occurred in May 1776 at and around the Cedars, 45 km (28 mi) west of Montreal, British America. Continental Army units were opposed by a small force of British troops leading a larger force of Indians (primarily Iroquois) and militia.

Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, commanding the American military garrison at Montreal, had placed a detachment of his troops at the Cedars in April 1776, after hearing of rumors of British and Indian military preparations to the west of Montreal. The garrison surrendered on May 19 after a confrontation with a combined force of British and Indian troops led by Captain George Forster. American reinforcements on their way to the Cedars were also captured after a brief skirmish on May 20. All of the captives were eventually released after negotiations between Forster and Arnold, who was bringing a sizable force into the area. The terms of the agreement required the Americans to release an equal number of British prisoners, but the deal was repudiated by Congress, and no British prisoners were freed.

Colonel Timothy Bedel and Lieutenant Isaac Butterfield, leaders of the American force at the Cedars, were court-martialed and cashiered from the Continental Army for their roles in the affair. After distinguishing himself as a volunteer, Bedel was given a new commission in 1777. News of the affair included greatly inflated reports of casualties, and often included graphic but false accounts of atrocities committed by the Iroquois, who made up the majority of the British forces.

Battle of Trois-Rivières

Battle of Trois-Rivières

1776 Jun 8
, Trois-Rivières

The Battle of Trois-Rivières was fought on June 8, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. A British army under Quebec Governor Guy Carleton defeated an attempt by units from the Continental Army under the command of Brigadier General William Thompson to stop a British advance up the Saint Lawrence River valley. The battle occurred as a part of the American colonists' invasion of Quebec, which had begun in September 1775 with the goal of removing the province from British rule.

The crossing of the Saint Lawrence by the American troops was observed by Quebec militia, who alerted British troops at Trois-Rivières. A local farmer led the Americans into a swamp, enabling the British to land additional forces in the village, and to establish positions behind the American army. After a brief exchange between an established British line and American troops emerging from the swamp, the Americans broke into a somewhat disorganized retreat. As some avenues of retreat were cut off, the British took a sizable number of prisoners, including General Thompson and much of his staff.

This was the last battle of the war fought on Quebec soil. Following the defeat, the remainder of the American forces, under the command of John Sullivan, retreated, first to Fort Saint-Jean, and then to Fort Ticonderoga. The invasion of Quebec ended as a disaster for the Americans, but Arnold's actions on the retreat from Quebec and his improvised navy on Lake Champlain were widely credited with delaying a full-scale British counter thrust until 1777. Numerous factors were put forward as reasons for the invasion's failure, including the high rate of smallpox among American troops. Carleton was heavily criticized by Burgoyne for not pursuing the American retreat from Quebec more aggressively. Due to these criticisms and the fact that Carleton was disliked by Lord George Germain, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies and the official in King George's government responsible for directing the war, command of the 1777 offensive was given to General Burgoyne instead (an action that prompted Carleton to tender his resignation as Governor of Quebec).

A significant portion of the Continental forces at Fort Ticonderoga were sent south with Generals Gates and Arnold in November to bolster Washington's faltering defense of New Jersey. (He had already lost New York City, and by early December had crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, leaving the British free to operate in New Jersey.) Conquering Quebec and other British colonies remained an objective of Congress throughout the war. However, George Washington, who had supported this invasion, considered any further expeditions a low priority that would divert too many men and resources away from the main war in the Thirteen Colonies, so further attempts at expeditions to Quebec were never fully realized.

An image of Sgt. Jasper raising the battle flag of the colonial forces

Battle of Sullivan's Island

1776 Jun 28
, Sullivan's Island

The Battle of Sullivan's Island took place near Charleston, South Carolina, during the first British attempt to capture the city from American forces. It is also sometimes referred to as the first siege of Charleston, owing to a more successful British siege in 1780.

About 50 men, most of them seated, are in a large meeting room. Most are focused on the five men standing in the center of the room. The tallest of the five is laying a document on a table.

United States Declaration of Independence

1776 Jul 4
, Philadephia

The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The Battle of Long Island | ©Domenick D'Andrea

Battle of Long Island

1776 Aug 27
, Brooklyn

The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, was an action of the American Revolutionary War fought on Tuesday, August 27, 1776, at the western edge of Long Island in the present-day Brooklyn, New York. The British defeated the Americans and gained access to the strategically important Port of New York, which they held for the rest of the war. It was the first major battle to take place after the United States declared its independence on July 4, and in troop deployment and combat, it was the largest battle of the war.

After defeating the British in the siege of Boston on March 17, commander-in-chief George Washington relocated the Continental Army to defend the port city of New York, located at the southern end of Manhattan Island. Washington understood that the city's harbor would provide an excellent base for the Royal Navy, so he established defenses there and waited for the British to attack. In July, the British, under the command of General William Howe, landed a few miles across the harbor on the sparsely populated Staten Island, where they were reinforced by a fleet of ships in Lower New York Bay over the next month and a half, bringing their total force to 32,000 troops. Washington knew the difficulty in holding the city with the British fleet in control of the entrance to the harbor at the Narrows, and accordingly moved the bulk of his forces to Manhattan, believing that it would be the first target.

On August 21, the British landed on the shores of Gravesend Bay in southwest Kings County, across the Narrows from Staten Island and more than a dozen miles south of the established East River crossings to Manhattan. After five days of waiting, the British attacked the American defenses on the Guan Heights. Unknown to the Americans, however, Howe had brought his main army around their rear and attacked their flank soon after. The Americans panicked, resulting in twenty percent losses through casualties and capture, although a stand by 400 Maryland and Delaware troops prevented greater losses. The remainder of the army retreated to the main defenses on Brooklyn Heights. The British dug in for a siege, but on the night of August 29–30, Washington evacuated the entire army to Manhattan without the loss of supplies or a single life. The Continental Army was driven out of New York entirely after several more defeats and was forced to retreat through New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

Battle of Harlem Heights

Battle of Harlem Heights

1776 Sep 16
, Morningside Heights

The Battle of Harlem Heights was fought during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The action took place on September 16, 1776, in what is now the Morningside Heights area and east into the future Harlem neighborhoods of northwestern Manhattan Island in what is now part of New York City.

The Continental Army, under Commander-in-chief General George Washington, Major General Nathanael Greene, and Major General Israel Putnam, totaling around 9,000 men, held a series of high ground positions in upper Manhattan. Immediately opposite was the vanguard of the British Army totaling around 5,000 men under the command of Major General Henry Clinton.

Battle of Valcour Island

Battle of Valcour Island

1776 Oct 11
, Lake Champlain

The Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, was a naval engagement that took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island. The battle is generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the first fought by the United States Navy. Most of the ships in the American fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold were captured or destroyed by a British force under the overall direction of General Guy Carleton. However, the American defense of Lake Champlain stalled British plans to reach the upper Hudson River valley. The Continental Army had retreated from Quebec to Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point in June 1776 after British forces were massively reinforced. They spent the summer of 1776 fortifying those forts and building additional ships to augment the small American fleet already on the lake. General Carleton had a 9,000 man army at Fort Saint-Jean, but needed to build a fleet to carry it on the lake. The Americans, during their retreat, had either taken or destroyed most of the ships on the lake. By early October, the British fleet, which significantly outgunned the American fleet, was ready for launch.

Hessian Fuselier Regiment Von Lossberg fording the Bronx river at the battle of White Plains | ©GrahaM Turner

Battle of White Plains

1776 Oct 28
, White Plains

The Battle of White Plains was a battle in the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War, fought on October 28, 1776 near White Plains, New York. Following the retreat of George Washington's Continental Army northward from New York City, British General William Howe landed troops in Westchester County, intending to cut off Washington's escape route. Alerted to this move, Washington retreated farther, establishing a position in the village of White Plains but failed to establish firm control over local high ground. Howe's troops drove Washington's troops from a hill near the village; following this loss, Washington ordered the Americans to retreat farther north. Later British movements chased Washington across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.

British warships trying to pass between Forts Washington and Lee | ©Thomas Mitchell

Battle of Fort Washington

1776 Nov 16
, Washington Heights

The Battle of Fort Washington was fought in New York on November 16, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War between the United States and Great Britain. It was a British victory that gained the surrender of the remnant of the garrison of Fort Washington near the north end of Manhattan Island. It was one of the worst Patriot defeats of the war.

After defeating the Continental Army under Commander-in-Chief General George Washington at the Battle of White Plains, the British Army forces under the command of Lieutenant General William Howe planned to capture Fort Washington, the last American stronghold on Manhattan. General Washington issued a discretionary order to General Nathanael Greene to abandon the fort and remove its garrison – then numbering 1,200 men but which later grew to 3,000 – to New Jersey. Colonel Robert Magaw, commanding the fort, declined to abandon it as he believed it could be defended from the British. Howe's forces attacked the fort before Washington reached it to assess the situation.

Howe launched his attack on November 16. He led an assault from three sides: the north, east and south. Tides in the Harlem River prevented some troops from landing and delayed the attack. When the British moved against the defenses, the southern and western American defenses fell quickly. Patriot forces on the north side offered stiff resistance to the Hessian attack, but they too were eventually overwhelmed. With the fort surrounded by land and sea, Colonel Magaw chose to surrender. A total of 59 Americans were killed in action and 2,837 were taken as prisoners of war.

Three days after the fall of Fort Washington, the Patriots abandoned Fort Lee. Washington and the army retreated through New Jersey and crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania northwest of Trenton, pursued as far as New Brunswick, New Jersey by British forces. The British consolidated their control of New York Harbor and eastern New Jersey.

Washington Crossing the Delaware, an 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze depicting the crossing prior to the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26, 1776.

Crossing of the Delaware River

1776 Dec 25
, Washington's Crossing

George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, which occurred on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against Hessian forces (German auxiliaries in the service of the British) in Trenton, New Jersey, on the morning of December 26. Planned in partial secrecy, Washington led a column of Continental Army troops across the icy Delaware River in a logistically challenging and dangerous operation.

Battle of Trenton

Battle of Trenton

1776 Dec 26
, Trenton

After the Battle of Fort Washington, the main force of British troops returned to New York for the winter season. They left mainly Hessian troops in New Jersey. These troops were under the command of Colonel Rall and Colonel Von Donop. They were ordered to form small outposts in and around Trenton. Howe then sent troops under the command of Charles Cornwallis across the Hudson River into New Jersey and chased Washington across New Jersey.

Washington's army was shrinking because of expiring enlistments and desertions, and suffered from poor morale because of the defeats in the New York area. Cornwallis (under Howe's command), rather than attempting to immediately chase Washington further, established a chain of outposts from New Brunswick to Burlington, including one at Bordentown and one at Trenton, and ordered his troops into winter quarters. The British were happy to end the campaign season when they were ordered to winter quarters. This was a time for the generals to regroup, re-supply, and strategize for the upcoming campaign season the following spring.

After General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton the previous night, Washington led the main body of the Continental Army against Hessian auxiliaries garrisoned at Trenton. After a brief battle, almost two-thirds of the Hessian force was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans. The Battle of Trenton significantly boosted the Continental Army's waning morale, and inspired re-enlistments.

Forage War

Forage War

1777 Jan 1 - Mar
, New Jersey

The Forage War was a partisan campaign consisting of numerous small skirmishes that took place in New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War between January and March 1777, following the battles of Trenton and Princeton. After both British and Continental Army troops entered their winter quarters in early January, Continental Army regulars and militia companies from New Jersey and Pennsylvania engaged in numerous scouting and harassing operations against the British and German troops quartered in New Jersey.

The British troops wanted to have fresh provisions to consume, and also required fresh forage for their draft animals and horses. General George Washington ordered the systematic removal of such supplies from areas easily accessible to the British, and companies of American militia and troops harassed British and German forays to acquire such provisions. While many of these operations were small, in some cases they became quite elaborate, involving more than 1,000 troops. The American operations were so successful that British casualties in New Jersey (including those of the battles at Trenton and Princeton) exceeded those of the entire campaign for New York.

General George Washington at Trenton on the night of January 2, 1777, after the Battle of the Assunpink Creek, also known as the Second Battle of Trenton, and before the Battle of Princeton. | ©John Trumbull

Battle of the Assunpink Creek

1777 Jan 2
, Trenton

Following the victory at the Battle of Trenton early in the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington of the Continental Army and his council of war expected a strong British counterattack. Washington and the council decided to meet this attack in Trenton and established a defensive position south of the Assunpink Creek.

Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis led the British forces southward in the aftermath of the December 26 battle. Leaving 1,400 men under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton, Cornwallis advanced on Trenton with about 5,000 men on January 2. His advance was significantly slowed by defensive skirmishing by American riflemen under the command of Edward Hand, and the advance guard did not reach Trenton until twilight. After assaulting the American positions three times and being repulsed each time, Cornwallis decided to wait and finish the battle the next day. Washington moved his army around Cornwallis's camp that night and attacked Mawhood at Princeton the next day. That defeat prompted the British to withdraw from most of New Jersey for the winter.

General George Washington rallying his troops at the Battle of Princeton. | ©William Ranney

Battle of Princeton

1777 Jan 3
, Princeton

On the night of January 2, 1777, Washington repulsed a British attack at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek. That night, he evacuated his position, circled around General Cornwallis' army, and went to attack the British garrison at Princeton.

On January 3, Brigadier General Hugh Mercer of the Continental Army clashed with two regiments under the command of Mawhood. Mercer and his troops were overrun, and Mercer was mortally wounded. Washington sent a brigade of militia under Brigadier General John Cadwalader to help them. The militia, on seeing the flight of Mercer's men, also began to flee. Washington rode up with reinforcements and rallied the fleeing militia. He then led the attack on Mawhood's troops, driving them back. Mawhood gave the order to retreat, and most of the troops tried to flee to Cornwallis in Trenton.

After entering Princeton, the Americans began to loot the abandoned British supply wagons and the town. With news that Cornwallis was approaching, Washington knew he had to leave Princeton. Washington wanted to push on to New Brunswick and capture a British pay chest of 70,000 pounds, but Major Generals Henry Knox and Nathanael Greene talked him out of it. Instead, Washington moved his army to Somerset Courthouse on the night of January 3, then marched to Pluckemin by January 5, and arrived at Morristown by sunset the next day for winter encampment. After the battle, Cornwallis abandoned many of his posts in New Jersey and ordered his army to retreat to New Brunswick. The next several months of the war consisted of a series of small scale skirmishes known as the Forage War.

Hessians at the Battle of Bound Brook

Battle of Bound Brook

1777 Apr 13
, Bound Brook

The Battle of Bound Brook (April 13, 1777) was a surprise attack conducted by British and Hessian forces against a Continental Army outpost at Bound Brook, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The British objective of capturing the entire garrison was not met, although prisoners were taken. The U.S. commander, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, left in great haste, abandoning papers and personal effects.

Late on the evening of April 12, 1777, four thousand British and Hessian troops under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis marched from the British stronghold of New Brunswick. All but one detachment reached positions surrounding the outpost before the battle began near daybreak the next morning. During the battle, most of the 500-man garrison escaped by the unblocked route. U.S. reinforcements arrived in the afternoon, but not before the British plundered the outpost and began the return march to New Brunswick.

General Washington moved his army from its winter quarters at Morristown to a more forward position at Middlebrook in late May to better react to British moves. As General Howe prepared his Philadelphia campaign, he first moved a large portion of his army to Somerset Court House in mid-June, apparently in an attempt to draw Washington from the Middlebrook position. When this failed, Howe withdrew his army back to Perth Amboy, and embarked it on ships bound for the Chesapeake Bay. Northern and coastal New Jersey continued to be the site of skirmishing and raiding by the British forces that occupied New York City for the rest of the war.

Meigs Raid

Meigs Raid

1777 May 24
, Sag Harbor

The Meigs Raid (also known as the Battle of Sag Harbor) was a military raid by American Continental Army forces, under the command of Connecticut Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, on a British Loyalist foraging party at Sag Harbor, New York on May 24, 1777 during the American Revolutionary War. Six Loyalists were killed and 90 captured while the Americans suffered no casualties. The raid was made in response to a successful British raid on Danbury, Connecticut in late April that was opposed by American forces in the Battle of Ridgefield.

Organized in New Haven, Connecticut by Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, the expedition crossed Long Island Sound from Guilford on May 23, dragged whaleboats across the North Fork of Long Island, and raided Sag Harbor early the next morning, destroying boats and supplies. The battle marked the first American victory in the state of New York after New York City and Long Island had fallen in the British campaign for the city in 1776.

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga | ©Gerry Embleton

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga

1777 Jul 2
, Fort Ticonderoga

The 1777 Siege of Fort Ticonderoga occurred between the 2nd and 6 July 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga, near the southern end of Lake Champlain in the state of New York. Lieutenant General John Burgoyne's 8,000-man army occupied high ground above the fort, and nearly surrounded the defenses. These movements precipitated the occupying Continental Army, an under-strength force of 3,000 under the command of General Arthur St. Clair, to withdraw from Ticonderoga and the surrounding defenses. Some gunfire was exchanged, and there were some casualties, but there was no formal siege and no pitched battle. Burgoyne's army occupied Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, the extensive fortifications on the Vermont side of the lake, without opposition on 6 July. Advance units pursued the retreating Americans. The uncontested surrender of Ticonderoga caused an uproar in the American public and in its military circles, as Ticonderoga was widely believed to be virtually impregnable, and a vital point of defense. General St. Clair and his superior, General Philip Schuyler, were vilified by Congress.

Although wounded, General Nicholas Herkimer rallies the Tryon County militia at the Battle of Oriskany | ©Frederick Coffay Yohn

Battle of Oriskany

1777 Aug 6
, Oriskany

The Battle of Oriskany was one of the bloodiest battles in the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign. On August 6, 1777, a party of Loyalists and several hundred Indigenous allies across several nations ambushed an American military party that was marching to relieve the siege of Fort Stanwix. This was one of the few battles in which the majority of the participants were Americans; Rebels and allied Oneidas fought against Loyalists and allied Iroquois in the absence of British regular soldiers. There was also a detachment of Hessians in the British force, as well as Western Indians including members of the Mississauga people.

Battle of Bennington | ©Don Troiani

Battle of Bennington

1777 Aug 16
, Walloomsac

The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, part of the Saratoga campaign, that took place on August 16, 1777, in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles (16 km) from its namesake, Bennington, Vermont. A rebel force of 2,000 men, primarily New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen, led by General John Stark, and reinforced by Vermont militiamen led by Colonel Seth Warner and members of the Green Mountain Boys, decisively defeated a detachment of General John Burgoyne's army led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, and supported by additional men under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann.

Nation Makers | ©Howard Pyle

Battle of Brandywine

1777 Sep 11
, Chadds Ford

The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American Continental Army of General George Washington and the British Army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777, as part of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The forces met near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. More troops fought at Brandywine than any other battle of the American Revolution. It was also the second single-day battle of the war, after the Battle of Monmouth, with continuous fighting for 11 hours.

As Howe moved to take Philadelphia, then the American capital, the British forces routed the Continental Army and forced them to withdraw, first, to the City of Chester, Pennsylvania, and then northeast toward Philadelphia.

Howe's army departed from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, across New York Bay from the occupied town of New York City on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, on July 23, 1777, and landed near present-day Elkton, Maryland, at the point of the "Head of Elk" by the Elk River at the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay, at the southern mouth of the Susquehanna River.Marching north, the British Army brushed aside American light forces in a few skirmishes. General Washington offered battle with his army posted behind Brandywine Creek, off the Christina River. While part of his army demonstrated in front of Chadds Ford, Howe took the bulk of his troops on a long march that crossed the Brandywine far beyond Washington's right flank. Due to poor scouting, the Americans did not detect Howe's column until it reached a position in rear of their right flank. Belatedly, three divisions were shifted to block the British flanking force at Birmingham Friends Meetinghouse and School, a Quaker meeting house.

After a stiff fight, Howe's wing broke through the newly formed American right wing which was deployed on several hills. At this point Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen attacked Chadds Ford and crumpled the American left wing. As Washington's army streamed away in retreat, he brought up elements of General Nathanael Greene's division which held off Howe's column long enough for his army to escape to the northeast. Polish General Casimir Pulaski defended Washington's rear assisting in his escape. The defeat and subsequent maneuvers left Philadelphia vulnerable. The British captured it two weeks later on September 26, resulting in the city falling under British control for nine months, until June of 1778.

The scene of the surrender of the British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga, on October 17, 1777, was a turning point in the American Revolutionary War that prevented the British from dividing New England from the rest of the colonies.

Battles of Saratoga

1777 Sep 19
, Stillwater

The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War. British General John Burgoyne led a large invasion army southward from Canada in the Champlain Valley, hoping to meet a similar British force marching northward from New York City and another British force marching eastward from Lake Ontario; the southern and western forces never arrived, and Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in upstate New York. He fought two small battles to break out which took place 18 days apart on the same ground, 9 miles (14 km) south of Saratoga, New York. They both failed.

A Dreadful scene of havock, depicting the British light infantry and light dragoons attacking the Continental Army encampment at Paoli on 20 September 1777

Battle of Paoli

1777 Sep 20
, Willistown Township

The Battle of Paoli (also known as the Battle of Paoli Tavern or the Paoli Massacre) was a battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought on September 20, 1777, in the area surrounding present-day Malvern, Pennsylvania. Following the American retreats at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of the Clouds, George Washington left a force under Brigadier General Anthony Wayne behind to monitor and harass the British as they prepared to move on the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia. On the evening of September 20, British forces under Major General Charles Grey led a surprise attack on Wayne's encampment near the Paoli Tavern. Although there were relatively few American casualties, claims were made that the British took no prisoners and granted no quarter, and the engagement became known as the "Paoli Massacre."

Battle of Germantown

Battle of Germantown

1777 Oct 4
, Germantown

After defeating the Continental Army at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, and the Battle of Paoli on September 20, Howe outmaneuvered Washington, seizing Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, on September 26. Howe left a garrison of some 3,000 troops in Philadelphia, while moving the bulk of his force to Germantown, then an outlying community to the city. Learning of the division, Washington determined to engage the British. His plan called for four separate columns to converge on the British position at Germantown. The two flanking columns were composed of 3,000 militia, while the center-left, under Nathanael Greene, the center-right under John Sullivan, and the reserve under Lord Stirling were made up of regular troops. The ambition behind the plan was to surprise and destroy the British force, much in the same way as Washington had surprised and decisively defeated the Hessians at Trenton. In Germantown, Howe had his light infantry and the 40th Foot spread across his front as pickets. In the main camp, Wilhelm von Knyphausen commanded the British left, while Howe himself personally led the British right.

A heavy fog caused a great deal of confusion among the approaching Americans. After a sharp contest, Sullivan's column routed the British pickets. Unseen in the fog, around 120 men of the British 40th Foot barricaded the Chew House. When the American reserve moved forward, Washington made the decision to launch repeated assaults on the position, all of which failed with heavy casualties. Penetrating several hundred yards beyond the mansion, Sullivan's wing became dispirited, running low on ammunition and hearing cannon fire behind them. As they withdrew, Anthony Wayne's division collided with part of Greene's late-arriving wing in the fog. Mistaking each other for the enemy, they opened fire, and both units retreated. Meanwhile, Greene's left-center column threw back the British right. With Sullivan's column repulsed, the British left outflanked Greene's column. The two militia columns had only succeeded in diverting the attention of the British, and had made no progress before they withdrew.

Despite the defeat, France, already impressed by the American success at Saratoga, decided to lend greater aid to the Americans. Howe did not vigorously pursue the defeated Americans, instead turning his attention to clearing the Delaware River of obstacles at Red Bank and Fort Mifflin. After unsuccessfully attempting to draw Washington into combat at White Marsh, Howe withdrew to Philadelphia. Washington, his army intact, withdrew to Valley Forge, where he wintered and re-trained his forces.

Battle of Red Bank

Battle of Red Bank

1777 Oct 22
, Fort Mercer

After the British capture of Philadelphia on September 26, 1777 and the failure of the American surprise attack against the British camp at the Battle of Germantown on October 4, the Americans tried to deny the British use of the city by blockading the Delaware River. To that end, two forts were constructed commanding the river. One was Fort Mercer on the New Jersey side at the Red Bank Plantation in what was then part of Deptford Township (now National Park, New Jersey). The other was Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, in the Delaware River just south of its confluence with the Schuylkill River, on the Pennsylvania side opposite Fort Mercer. So long as the Americans held both forts, British navy ships could not reach Philadelphia to resupply the army. In addition to the forts, the Americans possessed a small flotilla of Continental Navy ships on the Delaware supplemented by the Pennsylvania State Navy. The flotilla consisted of sloops, schooners, galleys, an assortment of floating batteries and fourteen old vessels laden with barrels of tar to be used as a means of defending the river.

Meanwhile, 2,000 Hessian mercenary troops under the command of Colonel Carl von Donop was sent to take Fort Mercer on the left bank (or New Jersey side) of the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia, but was decisively defeated by a far inferior force of colonial defenders. Although the British did take Fort Mercer a month later, the victory supplied a sorely-needed morale boost to the American cause, delayed British plans to consolidate gains in Philadelphia, and relieved pressure on General George Washington's army to the north of the city.

Battle of White Marsh

Battle of White Marsh

1777 Dec 5
, Whitemarsh Township

George Washington, commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces, spent the weeks after his defeat at the Battle of Germantown encamped with the Continental Army in various locations throughout Montgomery County, just north of British-occupied Philadelphia. In early November, the Americans established an entrenched position approximately 16 miles (26 km) north of Philadelphia along the Wissahickon Creek and Sandy Run, primarily situated on several hills between Old York Road and Bethlehem Pike. From here, Washington monitored British troop movements in Philadelphia and evaluated his options.

On December 4, Gen. Sir William Howe, the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, led a sizable contingent of troops out of Philadelphia in one last attempt to destroy Washington and the Continental Army before the onset of winter. After a series of skirmishes, Howe called off the attack and returned to Philadelphia without engaging Washington in a decisive conflict. With the British back in Philadelphia, Washington was able to march his troops to winter quarters at Valley Forge.

George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge.

Valley Forge

1777 Dec 19
, Valley Forge

Valley Forge functioned as the third of eight winter encampments for the Continental Army's main body, commanded by General George Washington, during the American Revolutionary War. In September 1777, Congress fled Philadelphia to escape the British capture of the city. After failing to retake Philadelphia, Washington led his 12,000-man army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, located approximately 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Philadelphia. They remained there for six months, from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778. At Valley Forge, the Continentals struggled to manage a disastrous supply crisis while retraining and reorganizing their units. About 1,700 to 2,000 soldiers died from disease, possibly exacerbated by malnutrition.

Treaty of Alliance

Treaty of Alliance

1778 Feb 6
, Paris

The Treaty of Alliance, also known as the Franco-American Treaty, was a defensive alliance between the Kingdom of France and the United States of America formed amid the American Revolutionary War with Great Britain. It was signed by delegates of King Louis XVI and the Second Continental Congress in Paris ( led by Benjamin Franklin) on February 6, 1778, along with the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a secret clause providing for the entry of other European allies; together these instruments are sometimes known as the Franco-American Alliance or the Treaties of Alliance. The agreements marked the official entry of the United States on the world stage, and formalized French recognition and support of U.S. independence that was to be decisive in America's victory.

Battle of Barren Hill | ©Don Troiani

Battle of Barren Hill

1778 May 20
, Lafayette Hill

The Battle of Barren Hill was a minor engagement during the American Revolution. On May 20, 1778, a British force attempted to encircle a smaller Continental force under the Marquis de Lafayette. The maneuver failed, with the Continentals escaping the trap, but the British took the field.

General Sir Robert Pigot, the organizer of the raids | ©Francis Cotes

Mount Hope Bay raids

1778 May 25 - May 31
, Fall River

The Mount Hope Bay raids were a series of military raids conducted by British troops during the American Revolutionary War against communities on the shores of Mount Hope Bay on May 25 and 31, 1778. The towns of Bristol and Warren, Rhode Island were significantly damaged, and Freetown, Massachusetts (present-day Fall River) was also attacked, although its militia resisted British attacks more successfully. The British destroyed military defenses in the area, including supplies that had been cached by the Continental Army in anticipation of an assault on British-occupied Newport, Rhode Island. Homes as well as municipal and religious buildings were also destroyed in the raids.

On May 25, 500 British and Hessian soldiers, under orders from General Sir Robert Pigot, the commander of the British garrison at Newport, Rhode Island, landed between Bristol and Warren, destroyed boats and other supplies, and plundered Bristol. Local resistance was minimal and ineffective in stopping the British activities. Six days later, 100 soldiers descended on Freetown, where less damage was done because local defenders prevented the British from crossing a bridge.

Painting titled Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth; depicts George Washington at the 1778 Battle of Monmouth.

Battle of Monmouth

1778 Jun 28
, Freehold Township

In February 1778, the French-American Treaty of Alliance tilted the strategic balance in favor of the Americans, forcing the British to abandon hopes of a military victory and adopt a defensive strategy. Clinton was ordered to evacuate Philadelphia and consolidate his army. The Continental Army shadowed the British as they marched across New Jersey to Sandy Hook, from where the Royal Navy would ferry them to New York. Washington's senior officers urged varying degrees of caution, but it was politically important for him not to allow the British to withdraw unscathed. Washington detached around a third of his army and sent it ahead under the command of Major General Charles Lee, hoping to land a heavy blow on the British without becoming embroiled in a major engagement.

The battle began badly for the Americans when Lee botched an attack on the British rearguard at Monmouth Court House. A counter-attack by the main British column forced Lee to retreat until Washington arrived with the main body. Clinton disengaged when he found Washington in an unassailable defensive position and resumed the march to Sandy Hook. An attempt by Washington to probe the British flanks was halted by sunset, and the two armies settled down within one mile (two kilometers) of each other. The British slipped away unnoticed during the night to link up with the baggage train. The rest of the march to Sandy Hook was completed without further incident, and Clinton's army was ferried to New York in early July.

The battle was tactically inconclusive and strategically irrelevant; neither side landed the blow they hoped to on the other, Washington's army remained an effective force in the field, and the British redeployed successfully to New York. The Continental Army had proven itself to be much improved after the training it underwent over the winter, and the professional conduct of the American troops during the battle was widely noted by the British. Washington was able to present the battle as a triumph, and he was voted a formal thanks by Congress to honor "the important victory of Monmouth over the British grand army." His position as commander-in-chief became unassailable. He was lauded for the first time as the father of his country, and his detractors were silenced. Lee was vilified for his failure to press home the attack on the British rearguard. Because of his tactless efforts to argue his case in the days after the battle, Washington had him arrested and court-martialed on charges of disobeying orders, conducting an "unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat" and disrespect towards the commander-in-chief. Lee made the fatal mistake of turning the proceedings into a contest between himself and Washington.

Clark's march to Vincennes. | ©F. C. Yohn

Illinois campaign

1778 Jul 1 - 1779 Feb
, Illinois

The Illinois campaign, also known as Clark's Northwestern campaign (1778–1779), was a series of events during the American Revolutionary War in which a small force of Virginia militiamen, led by George Rogers Clark, seized control of several British posts in the Illinois Country of the Province of Quebec, in what are now Illinois and Indiana in the Midwestern United States. The campaign is the best-known action of the western theater of the war and the source of Clark's reputation as an early American military hero.

In July 1778, Clark and his men crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky and took control of Kaskaskia, Vincennes, and several other villages in British territory. The occupation was accomplished without firing a shot because many of the Canadien and Native American inhabitants in the region were unwilling to resist the Patriots. To counter Clark's advance, Henry Hamilton, the British lieutenant governor at Fort Detroit, reoccupied Vincennes with a small force. In February 1779, Clark returned to Vincennes in a surprise winter expedition and retook the town, capturing Hamilton in the process. Virginia capitalized on Clark's success by establishing the region as Illinois County, Virginia.

The importance of the Illinois campaign has been the subject of much debate. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, some historians have credited Clark with nearly doubling the size of the original Thirteen Colonies by seizing control of the Illinois Country during the war. For this reason, Clark was nicknamed the "Conqueror of the Northwest", and his Illinois campaign—particularly the surprise march to Vincennes—was greatly celebrated and romanticized.

Continental Army in battle | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Rhode Island

1778 Aug 29
, Aquidneck Island

The Battle of Rhode Island took place on August 29, 1778. Continental Army and Militia forces under the command of Major General John Sullivan had been besieging the British forces in Newport, Rhode Island, which is situated on Aquidneck Island, but they had finally abandoned their siege and were withdrawing to the northern part of the island. The British forces then sortied, supported by recently arrived Royal Navy ships, and they attacked the retreating Americans. The battle ended inconclusively, but the Continental forces withdrew to the mainland and left Aquidneck Island in British hands.

The battle was the first attempt at cooperation between French and American forces following France's entry into the war as an American ally. Operations against Newport were planned in conjunction with a French fleet and troops, but they were frustrated in part by difficult relations between the commanders, as well as by a storm that damaged both French and British fleets shortly before joint operations were to begin.

The battle was also notable for the participation of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment under the command of Colonel Christopher Greene, which consisted of Africans, American Indians, and White colonists.

Portrait of General Benjamin Lincoln; by Charles Willson Peale

British move South

1778 Oct 1 - 1782
, Georgia

After the failure of the Saratoga campaign, the British Army largely abandoned operations in the north and pursued peace through subjugation in the Southern Colonies. Before 1778, these colonies were largely dominated by Patriot-controlled governments and militias, although there was also a Continental Army presence that played a role in the 1776 defense of Charleston, the suppression of loyalist militias, and attempts to drive the British from strongly loyalist East Florida.

Beginning in late December 1778, the British captured Savannah and controlled the Georgia coastline. It was followed in 1780 by operations in South Carolina that included the defeat of Continental forces at Charleston and Camden. At the same time France (in 1778) and Spain (in 1779) declared war on Great Britain in support of the United States.

The Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War was the central theater of military operations in the second half of the American Revolutionary War, 1778–1781. It encompassed engagements primarily in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. Tactics consisted of both strategic battles and guerrilla warfare.

Cherry Valley massacre

Cherry Valley massacre

1778 Nov 11
, Cherry Valley

The Cherry Valley massacre was an attack by British and Iroquois forces on a fort and the village of Cherry Valley in central New York on November 11, 1778, during the American Revolutionary War. It has been described as one of the most horrific frontier massacres of the war. A mixed force of Loyalists, British soldiers, Seneca and Mohawks descended on Cherry Valley, whose defenders, despite warnings, were unprepared for the attack. During the raid, the Seneca in particular targeted non-combatants, and reports state that 30 such individuals were slain, in addition to a number of armed defenders.

Attack on Savannah

Capture of Savannah

1778 Dec 29
, Savannah

The Capture of Savannah, or sometimes the First Battle of Savannah (because of the siege of 1779), or the Battle of Brewton Hill, was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on December 29, 1778 pitting local American Patriot militia and Continental Army units, holding the City, against a British invasion force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell. The British capture of the city led to an extended occupation and was the opening move in the British southern strategy to regain control of the rebellious Southern provinces by appealing to the relatively strong Loyalist sentiment there.

Battle of Kettle Creek

Battle of Kettle Creek

1779 Feb 14
, Washington

The Battle of Kettle Creek was the first major victory for Patriots in the back country of Georgia during the American Revolutionary War that took place on February 14, 1779. It was fought in Wilkes County about eight miles (13 km) from present-day Washington, Georgia. A militia force of Patriots decisively defeated and scattered a Loyalist militia force that was on its way to British-controlled Augusta. The victory demonstrated the inability of British forces to hold the interior of the state, or to protect even sizable numbers of Loyalist recruits outside their immediate area. The British, who had already decided to abandon Augusta, recovered some prestige a few weeks later, surprising a Patriot force in the Battle of Brier Creek. Georgia's back country would not come fully under British control until after the 1780 Siege of Charleston broke Patriot forces in the South.

Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton surrenders to Colonel George Rogers Clark, February 25, 1779, painting by H. Charles McBarron Jr.

Siege of Fort Vincennes

1779 Feb 23 - Feb 25
, Vincennes

The siege of Fort Vincennes, also known as the siege of Fort Sackville and the Battle of Vincennes, was a Revolutionary War frontier battle fought in present-day Vincennes, Indiana won by a militia led by American commander George Rogers Clark over a British garrison led by Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton. Roughly half of Clark's militia were Canadien volunteers sympathetic to the American cause. After a daring wintertime march, the small American force was able to force the British to surrender the fort and in a larger frame the Illinois territory.

Battle of Brier Creek | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Brier Creek

1779 Mar 3
, Sylvania

The Battle of Brier Creek was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on March 3, 1779, near the confluence of Brier Creek with the Savannah River in eastern Georgia. A mixed Patriot force consisting principally of militia from North Carolina and Georgia along with some Continental regulars was defeated, suffering significant casualties. The rout damaged Patriot morale. Brier Creek thwarted American attempts to force the enemy out of the new state and guaranteed British dominance in the region.The battle occurred only a few weeks after a Patriot victory over a Loyalist militia at Kettle Creek, north of Augusta, reversing its effect on morale. William Moultrie, in his memoirs of the war, wrote that the loss at Brier Creek extended the war by a year and made possible the British invasion of South Carolina in 1780.

Chesapeake Raid

Chesapeake Raid

1779 May 10
, Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Raid was an American Revolutionary War campaign by British naval forces under the command of Commodore Sir George Collier and land forces led by Major General Edward Mathew. Between 10 May and 24 May 1779 these forces raided economic and military targets up and down Chesapeake Bay. The speed with which the British moved caught many of the bay's communities by surprise, so there was little to no resistance. The British destroyed economically important supplies of tobacco and coal, and destroyed naval ships, port facilities, and storehouses full of military supplies.
Bernardo de Gálvez at the siege of Pensacola | ©Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau

Spain and the American Revolutionary War

1779 Jun 1
, Florida

Spain played an important role in the independence of the United States, as part of its conflict with Britain. Spain declared war on Britain as an ally of France, itself an ally of the American colonies. Most notably, Spanish forces attacked British positions in the south and captured West Florida from Britain in the siege of Pensacola. This secured the southern route for supplies and closed off the possibility of any British offensive through the western frontier of the United States via the Mississippi River. Spain also provided money, supplies, and munitions to the American forces.

Beginning in 1776, it jointly funded Roderigue Hortalez and Company, a trading company that provided critical military supplies. Spain provided financing for the final siege of Yorktown in 1781 with a collection of gold and silver in Havana, then Spanish Cuba. Spain was allied with France through the Bourbon Family Compact and the Revolution was an opportunity to confront their common enemy, Great Britain. As the newly appointed Chief Minister of King Charles III of Spain, the Count of Floridablanca wrote in March 1777, "the fate of the colonies interests us very much, and we shall do for them everything that circumstances permit".

Spanish aid was supplied to the new nation through four main routes: from French ports with the funding of Rodrigue Hortalez and Company, through the port of New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, from the warehouses in Havana, and from Bilbao, through the Gardoqui family trading company.

Sullivan Expedition

Sullivan Expedition

1779 Jun 18 - Oct 3
, Upstate New York

The 1779 Sullivan Expedition was a United States military campaign during the American Revolutionary War, lasting from June to October 1779, against Loyalists and the four British allied Nations of the Iroquois. The campaign was ordered by George Washington, in response to the 1778 Iroquois–British attacks on Wyoming, German Flatts, and Cherry Valley, with the aim of "taking the war home to the enemy to break their morale". The Continental Army carried out a scorched-earth campaign, chiefly in the lands of the Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Longhouse Confederacy) in what is now Pennsylvania and western New York state.

The expedition was largely successful, with more than 40 Iroquois villages and their stores of winter crops destroyed, breaking the power of the Iroquois in New York all the way to the Great Lakes. The campaign drove 5,000 Iroquois to Fort Niagara seeking British protection. With the military power of the Iroquois vanquished, the campaign depopulated the area for post-war settlement and opened up the vast Ohio Country, the Great Lakes region, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky to post-war settlements. Historians Rhiannon Koehler, Jeffrey Ostler, and Barbara Alice Mann argue that it was an attempt to annihilate the Iroquois and describe the expedition as a genocide, although this term is disputed, and it is not commonly used. Historian Fred Anderson, describes the expedition as "close to ethnic cleansing" instead. Today this area is the heartland of Upstate New York, with thirty-five monoliths marking the path of Sullivan's troops and the locations of the Iroquois villages they razed dotting the region, having been erected by the New York State Education Department in 1929 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the expedition.

The Death of Colonel Owen Roberts, a depiction of the death of South Carolina Colonel Owen Roberts at the 1779 Battle of Stono Ferry. | ©Henry Benbridge

Battle of Stono Ferry

1779 Jun 20
, Rantowles

The Battle of Stono Ferry was an American Revolutionary War battle, fought on June 20, 1779, near Charleston, South Carolina. The rear guard from a British expedition retreating from an aborted attempt to take Charleston held off an assault by poorly trained militia forces under American General Benjamin Lincoln.

Tryon's raid

Tryon's raid

1779 Jul 1
, New Haven

Tryon's Raid occurred in July 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, in which 2700 men, led by British Major General William Tryon, raided the Connecticut ports of New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk. They destroyed military and public stores, supply houses, and ships as well as private homes, churches, and other public buildings. The raids were ineffectually resisted by militia forces.

The raid was part of a larger strategy designed by the British commander-in-chief, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, to draw Major General George Washington's Continental Army to terrain on which it might be more effectively engaged. The strategy failed, and both sides criticized General Tryon for the severity of his action. Although the raid had economic ramifications and affected military supplies, Clinton's efforts had no long-term strategic impact.

Battle of Stony Point

Battle of Stony Point

1779 Jul 16
, Stony Point

The Battle of Stony Point took place on July 16, 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. In a well-planned and -executed nighttime attack, a highly trained select group of George Washington's Continental Army troops under the command of Brigadier General "Mad Anthony" Wayne defeated British troops in a quick and daring assault on their outpost in Stony Point, New York, approximately 30 mi (48 km) north of New York City.

The British suffered heavy losses in a battle that served as an important victory in terms of morale for the Continental Army. While the fort was ordered evacuated quickly after the battle by General Washington, this key crossing site was used later in the war by units of the Continental Army to cross the Hudson River on their way to victory over the British.

Destruction of the American Fleet at Penobscot Bay, 14 August 1779. | ©Dominic Serres

Penobscot Expedition

1779 Jul 24 - Aug 16
, Penobscot Bay

The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval armada during the Revolutionary War assembled by the Provincial Congress of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The flotilla of 19 warships and 25 support vessels sailed from Boston on July 19, 1779 for the upper Penobscot Bay in the District of Maine carrying an expeditionary force of more than 1,000 American colonial marines (not to be confused with the Continental Marines) and militiamen. Also included was a 100-man artillery detachment under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere.

The expedition's goal was to reclaim control of mid-coast Maine from the British who had captured it a month earlier and renamed it New Ireland. It was the largest American naval expedition of the war. The fighting took place on land and at sea around the mouth of the Penobscot and Bagaduce rivers at Castine, Maine, over a period of three weeks in July and August. It resulted in the United States' worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later in 1941.

On June 17, British Army forces landed under the command of General Francis McLean and began to establish a series of fortifications around Fort George on the Majabigwaduce Peninsula in the upper Penobscot Bay, with the goals of establishing a military presence on that part of the coast and establishing the colony of New Ireland. In response, the Province of Massachusetts raised an expedition to drive them out, with some support from the Continental Congress.

The Americans landed troops in late July and attempted to besiege Fort George in actions that were seriously hampered by disagreements over control of the expedition between land forces commander Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and expedition commander Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, who was later dismissed from the Navy for ineptitude. For almost three weeks, General McLean held off the assault until a British relief fleet arrived from New York on August 13 under the command of Sir George Collier, driving the American fleet to destruction up the Penobscot River. The survivors of the expedition made an overland journey back to more populated parts of Massachusetts with minimal food and arms.

Painting depicting the Spanish advance at the lower Mississippi | ©Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau

Gulf Coast campaign

1779 Aug 1
, Pensacola

The Gulf Coast campaign or the Spanish conquest of West Florida in the American Revolutionary War, was a series of military operations primarily directed by the governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez against the British province of West Florida. Begun with operations against British positions on the Mississippi River shortly after Britain and Spain went to war in 1779, Gálvez completed the conquest of West Florida in 1781 with the successful siege of Pensacola.

Capture of Fort Bute

Capture of Fort Bute

1779 Sep 7
, East Baton Rouge Parish

The Capture of Fort Bute signalled the opening of Spanish intervention in the American Revolutionary War on the side of France and the United States. Mustering an ad hoc army of Spanish regulars, Acadian militia, and native levies under Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, Bernardo de Gálvez, the Governor of Spanish Louisiana stormed and captured the small British frontier post on Bayou Manchac on September 7, 1779.

Battle of Lake Pontchartrain

Battle of Lake Pontchartrain

1779 Sep 10
, Lake Pontchartrain

The Battle of Lake Pontchartrain was a single-ship action on September 10, 1779, part of the Anglo-Spanish War. It was fought between the British sloop-of-war HMS West Florida and the Continental Navy schooner USS Morris in the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, then in the British province of West Florida. West Florida was patrolling on Lake Pontchartrain when it encountered Morris, which had set out from New Orleans with a Spanish and American crew headed by Continental Navy Captain William Pickles. The larger crew of Morris successfully boarded West Florida, inflicting a mortal wound on its captain, Lieutenant John Payne. The capture of West Florida eliminated the major British naval presence on the lake, weakening already tenuous British control over the western reaches of West Florida.

Battle of Baton Rouge

Battle of Baton Rouge

1779 Sep 12
, Baton Rouge

The Battle of Baton Rouge was a brief siege during the Anglo-Spanish War that was decided on September 21, 1779. Baton Rouge was the second British outpost to fall to Spanish arms during Bernardo de Gálvez's march into British West Florida.

Attack on Savannah | ©A. I. Keller

Siege of Savannah

1779 Oct 18
, Savannah

The siege of Savannah or the Second Battle of Savannah was an encounter of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in 1779. The year before, the city of Savannah, Georgia, had been captured by a British expeditionary corps under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell. The siege itself consisted of a joint Franco-American attempt to retake Savannah, from September 16 to October 18, 1779. On October 9 a major assault against the British siege works failed. During the attack, Polish nobleman Count Casimir Pulaski, leading the combined cavalry forces on the American side, was mortally wounded. With the failure of the joint attack, the siege was abandoned, and the British remained in control of Savannah until July 1782, near the end of the war.

In 1779, more than 500 recruits from Saint-Domingue (the French colony which later became Haiti), under the overall command of French nobleman Charles Hector, Comte d'Estaing, fought alongside American colonial troops against the British Army during the siege of Savannah. This was one of the most significant foreign contributions to the American Revolutionary War. This French-colonial force had been established six months earlier and included hundreds of soldiers of color in addition to white soldiers and a couple of enslaved black men.

The Moonlight Battle off Cape St. Vincent | ©Richard Paton

Battle of Cape St. Vincent

1780 Jan 16
, Cape St. Vincent

The Battle of Cape St. Vincent (Spanish: Batalla del Cabo de San Vicente) was a naval battle that took place off the southern coast of Portugal on 16 January 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. A British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a Spanish squadron under Don Juan de Lángara. The battle is sometimes referred to as the Moonlight Battle (batalla a la luz de la luna) because it was unusual for naval battles in the Age of Sail to take place at night. It was also the first major naval victory for the British over their European enemies in the war and proved the value of copper-sheathing the hulls of warships.

Battle of Fort Charlotte

Battle of Fort Charlotte

1780 Mar 2
, Mobile

The Battle of Fort Charlotte or the siege of Fort Charlotte was a two-week siege conducted by Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez against the British fortifications guarding the port of Mobile (which was then in the British province of West Florida, and now in Alabama) during the Anglo-Spanish War of 1779-1783. Fort Charlotte was the last remaining British frontier post capable of threatening New Orleans in Spanish Louisiana. Its fall drove the British from the western reaches of West Florida and reduced the British military presence in West Florida to its capital, Pensacola.

Gálvez's army sailed from New Orleans aboard a small fleet of transports on January 28, 1780. On February 25, the Spaniards landed near Fort Charlotte. The outnumbered British garrison resisted stubbornly until Spanish bombardment breached the walls. The garrison commander, Captain Elias Durnford, had waited in vain for relief from Pensacola, but was forced to surrender. Their capitulation secured the western shore of Mobile Bay and opened the way for Spanish operations against Pensacola.

A depiction of the Siege of Charleston (1780) by Alonzo Chappel.

Siege of Charleston

1780 Mar 29 - May 12
, Charleston

The siege of Charleston was a major engagement and major British victory, fought between March 29 to May 12, 1780, during the American Revolutionary War. The British, following the collapse of their northern strategy in late 1777 and their withdrawal from Philadelphia in 1778, shifted their focus to the American Southern Colonies. After approximately six weeks of siege, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, commanding the Charleston garrison, surrendered his forces to the British. It was one of the worst American defeats of the war.

Battle of Monck's Corner

Battle of Monck's Corner

1780 Apr 14
, Moncks Corner

The Loyalist British Legion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, surprised an American force stationed at Monck's Corner, and drove them away. The action cut off an avenue of escape for Benjamin Lincoln's besieged army. Aside from the British Legion, and the 33rd Foot and 64th Foot led by Lt. Col. James Webster, the force included Loyalists, the American Volunteers, led by Maj. Patrick Ferguson.

Indian Attack on the Village of Saint Louis, 1780

Battle of St. Louis

1780 May 25
, St. Louis

The Battle of St. Louis was an unsuccessful attack led by the British on St. Louis (a French settlement in Spanish Louisiana, founded on the West Bank of the Mississippi River after the 1763 Treaty of Paris) on May 26, 1780, during the American Revolutionary War. A former British militia commander led a force primarily of Indians and attacked the settlement. Fernando de Leyba, the Lieutenant Governor of Spanish Louisiana, led the local militia to fortify the town as best as they could and successfully withstood the attack.

On the opposite bank of the Mississippi, a second simultaneous attack on the nearby former British colonial outpost of Cahokia, occupied by Patriot Virginians, was also repulsed. The retreating Indians destroyed the crops and took captive civilians outside the protected area. The British failed to defend their side of the river and, thus, effectively ended any attempts to gain control of the Mississippi River during the war.

Waxhaw massacre | ©Graham Turner

Waxhaw massacre

1780 May 29
, Buford

The Waxhaw massacre took place during the American Revolutionary War on May 29, 1780, near Lancaster, South Carolina, between a Continental Army force led by Abraham Buford and a mainly Loyalist force led by British officer Banastre Tarleton. Buford refused an initial demand to surrender, but when his men were attacked by Tarleton's cavalry, many threw down their arms to surrender. Buford apparently attempted to surrender. However, the British commanding officer Tarleton was shot at during the truce, causing his horse to fall and trap him. Loyalists and British troops were outraged at the breaking of the truce in this manner and proceeded to fall on the Americans.

While Tarleton was trapped under his dead horse, the British continued killing the Continental soldiers, including soldiers who were not resisting. The British gave little quarter to the rebels. Of the 400 or so Continentals, 113 were killed with sabers, 150 so badly injured they could not be moved, and the British and Loyalists took 53 prisoners. "Tarleton's quarter" thereafter meant refusing to take prisoners. In subsequent battles in the Carolinas, it became rare for either side to take significant prisoners. The Battle of Waxhaws became the subject of an intensive propaganda campaign by the Continental Army to bolster recruitment and incite resentment against the British. After Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, the only British officer not invited to dine with General Washington was Tarleton.

Battle of Connecticut Farms

Battle of Connecticut Farms

1780 Jun 7
, Union Township

The Battle of Connecticut and Concur, fought June 7, 1780, was one of the last major battles between British and American forces in the northern colonies during the American Revolutionary War. Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, in command of the British garrison at New York City, made an attempt to reach the principal Continental Army encampment at Morristown, New Jersey. Knyphausen's advance was strongly met by companies of the New Jersey militia at Connecticut Farms (present-day Union Township). After stiff resistance, the militia were forced to withdraw, but the battle and skirmishing that preceded it sufficiently delayed Knyphausen's advance that he remained there for the night. After realizing that further advance on Morristown would probably be met by even more resistance, Knyphausen withdrew back toward New York.

Battle of Springfield | ©John Ward Dunsmore

Battle of Springfield

1780 Jun 23
, Union County

The Battle of Springfield was fought during the American Revolutionary War on June 23, 1780, in Union County, New Jersey. After the Battle of Connecticut Farms, on June 7, 1780, had foiled Lieutenant General Wilhelm, Baron von Knyphausen’s expedition to attack General George Washington’s army at Morristown, New Jersey, Knyphausen and Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, British commander-in-chief in North America, decided upon a second attempt. Although the British were initially able to advance, they were ultimately forced to withdraw in the face of newly arriving rebel forces, resulting in a Continental victory. The battle effectively ended British ambitions in New Jersey.

Battle of Hanging Rock

Battle of Hanging Rock

1780 Aug 6
, Lancaster County

The British, in complete control of both South Carolina and Georgia, established outposts in the interior of both states to recruit Loyalists and to suppress Patriot dissent. One of these outposts was established at Hanging Rock, in present-day Lancaster County south of Heath Springs.

On August 1, 1780, Sumter launched an attack on the British outpost at Rocky Mount, west of Hanging Rock on the Catawba River. As part of this attack Sumter detached Major Davie on a diversionary attack on Hanging Rock. Davie attacked a fortified house, and captured 60 horses and a number of weapons, while also inflicting casualties on the British. This, however, did not prevent the British from sending troops from Hanging Rock to reinforce the garrison there. After his assault on Rocky Mount failed, Sumter decided to make an attack on the weakened Hanging Rock outpost. In the heat of the battle, Major Carden lost his nerve and surrendered his command to one of his junior officers. This was a major turning point for the Americans. At one point, Capt. Rousselet of the Legion infantry led a charge and forced many Sumter's men back. Lack of ammunition made it impossible for Sumter to completely knock out the British. The battle raged for 3 hours without pause, causing many men to faint from the heat and thirst.

Battle of Camden; Death of de Kalb. Engraving from painting by Alonzo Chappel.

Battle of Camden

1780 Aug 16
, Kershaw County

The Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780), also known as the Battle of Camden Court House, was a major victory for the British in the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War. On August 16, 1780, British forces under Lieutenant General Charles, Lord Cornwallis routed the numerically superior U.S. forces led by Major General Horatio Gates about four miles north of Camden, South Carolina, thus strengthening the British hold on the Carolinas following the capture of Charleston. The rout was a personally humiliating defeat for Gates, the U.S. general best known for commanding the American forces at the British defeat at Saratoga three years previously. His army had possessed a great numerical superiority over the British force, having twice the personnel, but his command of them was seen as shambolic. Following the battle, he was regarded with disdain by his colleagues and he never held a field command again. His political connections, however, helped him avoid any military inquiries or courts martial into the debacle.

Engraving depicting the death of British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain

Battle of Kings Mountain

1780 Oct 7
, South Carolina

The Battle of Kings Mountain was a military engagement between Patriot and Loyalist militias in South Carolina during the Southern Campaign of the American Revolutionary War, resulting in a decisive victory for the Patriots. The battle took place on October 7, 1780, 9 miles (14 km) south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. In what is now rural Cherokee County, South Carolina, the Patriot militia defeated the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson of the 71st Foot. The battle has been described as "the war's largest all-American fight".

The Continental Army at the time of the Yorktown campaign

Yorktown campaign

1781 Jan 1
, Yorktown

The Yorktown or Virginia campaign was a series of military maneuvers and battles during the American Revolutionary War that culminated in the siege of Yorktown in October 1781. The result of the campaign was the surrender of the British Army force of General Charles Earl Cornwallis, an event that led directly to the beginning of serious peace negotiations and the eventual end of the war. The campaign was marked by disagreements, indecision, and miscommunication on the part of British leaders, and by a remarkable set of cooperative decisions, at times in violation of orders, by the French and Americans.

The campaign involved land and naval forces of Great Britain and France, and land forces of the United States. British forces were sent to Virginia between January and April 1781 and joined with Cornwallis's army in May, which came north from an extended campaign through the southern states. These forces were first opposed weakly by Virginia militia, but General George Washington sent first Marquis de Lafayette and then "Mad" Anthony Wayne with Continental Army troops to oppose the raiding and economic havoc the British were wreaking. The combined American forces, however, were insufficient in number to oppose the combined British forces, and it was only after a series of controversially confusing orders by General Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander-in-chief, that Cornwallis moved to Yorktown in July and built a defensive position that was strong against the land forces he then faced, but was vulnerable to naval blockade and siege.

British naval forces in North America and the West Indies were weaker than the combined fleets of France and Spain, and, after some critical decisions and tactical missteps by British naval commanders, the French fleet of Paul de Grasse gained control over Chesapeake Bay, blockading Cornwallis from naval support and delivering additional land forces to blockade him on land. The Royal Navy attempted to dispute this control, but Admiral Thomas Graves was defeated in the key Battle of the Chesapeake on September 5. American and French armies that had massed outside New York City began moving south in late August, and arrived near Yorktown in mid-September. Deceptions about their movement successfully delayed attempts by Clinton to send more troops to Cornwallis.

The siege of Yorktown began on September 28, 1781. In a step that probably shortened the siege, Cornwallis decided to abandon parts of his outer defenses, and the besiegers successfully stormed two of his redoubts. When it became clear that his position was untenable, Cornwallis opened negotiations on October 17 and surrendered two days later. When the news reached London, the government of Lord North fell, and the following Rockingham ministry entered into peace negotiations. These culminated in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which King George III recognized the independent United States of America. Clinton and Cornwallis engaged in a public war of words defending their roles in the campaign, and British naval command also discussed the navy's shortcomings that led to the defeat.

Battle of Mobile

Battle of Mobile

1781 Jan 7
, Mobile

The 2nd Battle of Mobile, also known as the Battle at the Village, was a British attempt to recapture the town of Mobile, in the British province of West Florida, from the Spanish during the Anglo-Spanish War. The Spanish had previously captured Mobile in March 1780. On January 7, 1781, a British attack against a Spanish outpost on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay was repulsed, and the German leader of the expedition was killed.

The Battle of Cowpens, painted by William Ranney in 1845. The scene I’m depicts an unnamed black man (left), thought to be Colonel William Washington's waiter, firing his pistol and saving the life of Colonel Washington (on white horse in center).

Battle of Cowpens

1781 Jan 17
, Cherokee County

The Battle of Cowpens was an engagement during the American Revolutionary War fought on January 17, 1781 near the town of Cowpens, South Carolina, between U.S. forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, as part of the campaign in the Carolinas (North and South). The battle was a turning point in the American reconquest of South Carolina from the British.

Spanish grenadiers and militia pour into Fort George. | ©United States Army Center of Military History.

Siege of Pensacola

1781 Mar 9
, Pensacola

The siege of Pensacola was a siege fought in 1781, the culmination of Spain's conquest of the British province of West Florida during the Gulf Coast campaign.

Painting of the Battle of Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781)

Battle of Guilford Court House

1781 Mar 15
, Greensboro

On 18 January, Cornwallis learned he had lost one-quarter of his army at the Battle of Cowpens. Yet he was still determined to pursue Greene into North Carolina and destroy Greene's army. At Ramsour's Mill, Cornwallis burned his baggage train, except the wagons he needed to carry medical supplies, salt, ammunition, and the sick. On 14 March, Cornwallis learned that Greene was at Guilford Court House. On 15 March, Cornwallis marched down the road from New Garden toward Guilford Courthouse. General Charles Cornwallis 2,100-man British force defeated Major General Nathanael Greene's 4,500 Americans. The British Army, however, suffered considerable casualties (with estimates as high as 27% of their total force).

The battle was "the largest and most hotly contested action" in the American Revolution's southern theater. Before the battle, the British had great success in conquering much of Georgia and South Carolina with the aid of strong Loyalist factions and thought that North Carolina might be within their grasp. In fact, the British were in the process of heavy recruitment in North Carolina when this battle put an end to their recruiting drive. In the wake of the battle, Greene moved into South Carolina, while Cornwallis chose to march into Virginia and attempt to link with roughly 3,500 men under British Major General Phillips and American turncoat Benedict Arnold. These decisions allowed Greene to unravel British control of the South, while leading Cornwallis to Yorktown, where he eventually surrendered to General George Washington and French Lieutenant General Comte de Rochambeau.

Siege of Ninety-Six

Siege of Ninety-Six

1781 May 22 - Jun 19
, Ninety Six

The siege of Ninety Six was a siege in western South Carolina late in the American Revolutionary War. From May 22 to June 18, 1781, Continental Army Major General Nathanael Greene led 1,000 troops in a siege against the 550 Loyalists in the fortified village of Ninety Six, South Carolina. The 28-day siege centered on an earthen fortification known as Star Fort. Despite having more troops, Greene was unsuccessful in taking the town, and was forced to lift the siege when Lord Rawdon approached from Charleston with British troops.

Lochry's Defeat

Lochry's Defeat

1781 Aug 24
, Aurora

Lochry's Defeat, also known as the Lochry massacre, was a battle fought on August 24, 1781, near present-day Aurora, Indiana, in the United States. The battle was part of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which began as a conflict between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies before spreading to the western frontier, where American Indians entered the war as British allies. The battle was short and decisive: about one hundred Indians of local tribes led by Joseph Brant, a Mohawk military leader who was temporarily in the west, ambushed a similar number of Pennsylvania militiamen led by Archibald Lochry. Brant and his men killed or captured all of the Pennsylvanians without suffering any casualties.

Battle of the Chesapeake

Battle of the Chesapeake

1781 Sep 5
, Cape Charles

The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American Revolutionary War that took place near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781. The combatants were a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grasse. The battle was strategically decisive, in that it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the besieged forces of Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. The French were able to achieve control of the sea lanes against the British and provided the Franco-American army with siege artillery and French reinforcements. These proved decisive in the Siege of Yorktown, effectively securing independence for the Thirteen Colonies. Admiral de Grasse had the option to attack British forces in either New York or Virginia; he opted for Virginia, arriving at the Chesapeake at the end of August. Admiral Graves learned that de Grasse had sailed from the West Indies for North America and that French Admiral de Barras had also sailed from Newport, Rhode Island. He concluded that they were going to join forces at the Chesapeake. He sailed south from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, outside New York Harbor, with 19 ships of the line and arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake early on 5 September to see de Grasse's fleet already at anchor in the bay. De Grasse hastily prepared most of his fleet for battle—24 ships of the line—and sailed out to meet him.

Battle of Groton Heights

Battle of Groton Heights

1781 Sep 6
, New London Road & Connecticut 215

The Battle of Groton Heights was a battle of the American Revolutionary War fought on September 6, 1781 between a small Connecticut militia force led by Lieutenant Colonel William Ledyard and the more numerous British forces led by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold and Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Eyre.

Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton ordered Arnold to raid the port of New London, Connecticut in an unsuccessful attempt to divert General George Washington from marching against Lord Cornwallis's army in Virginia. The raid was a success, but the Connecticut militia stubbornly resisted British attempts to capture Fort Griswold across the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut. New London was burned along with several ships, but many more ships escaped upriver.

Several leaders of the attacking British force were killed or seriously wounded, but the British eventually breached the fort. As the British entered the fort the Americans surrendered, but the British continued firing and killed many of the defenders. However, the high number of British casualties in the overall expedition against Groton and New London led to criticism of Arnold by some of his superiors. The battle was the last major military encounter of the war in the northern United States, preceding and being overshadowed by the decisive Franco-American siege of Yorktown about six weeks later. At the battle of Yorktown, the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly yelled, "Remember Fort Griswold!" as American and French forces stormed the redoubts.

Battle of Eutaw Springs

Battle of Eutaw Springs

1781 Sep 8
, Eutawville

The Battle of Eutaw Springs was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, and was the last major engagement of the war in the Carolinas. Both sides claimed victory.
Siege of Yorktown

Siege of Yorktown

1781 Sep 28 - Oct 19
, Yorktown

The siege of Yorktown was a decisive victory by a combined force of the American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, and French Army troops led by Comte de Rochambeau over a British army commanded by British peer and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, the siege proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in the North American region, as the surrender by Cornwallis, and the capture of both him and his army, prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.

Battle of Johnstown

Battle of Johnstown

1781 Oct 25
, Johnstown

The Battle of Johnstown was one of the last battles in the northern theatre of the American Revolutionary War, with approximately 1,400 engaged at Johnstown, New York on October 25, 1781. Local American forces, led by Colonel Marinus Willett of Johnstown, ultimately put to flight the British forces under the command of Major John Ross of the King's Royal Regiment of New York and Captain Walter Butler of Butler's Rangers. This was the first time so many British regular army troops participated in a border raid in this area. The British retreated northwards and Marinus Willett marched to German Flatts to try to cut them off. The British managed to escape, but Walter Butler was killed.

Battle of the Saintes | ©Thomas Whitcombe

Battle of the Saintes

1782 Jul 9
, Dominica

The Battle of the Saintes (known to the French as the Bataille de la Dominique), also known as the Battle of Dominica, was an important naval battle in the Caribbean between the British and the French that took place 9–12 April 1782. The British victory was considered their greatest over the French during the American Revolutionary War.

Capt. Patterson’s Escape from the Battle of the Blue Licks | ©Lafayette Studios

Battle of Blue Licks

1782 Aug 19
, Mount Olivet

The Battle of Blue Licks, fought on August 19, 1782, was one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War. The battle occurred ten months after Lord Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, which had effectively ended the war in the east. On a hill next to the Licking River in what is now Robertson County, Kentucky (then Fayette County, Virginia), a force of about 50 Loyalists along with 300 indigenous warriors ambushed and routed 182 Kentucky militiamen. It was the last victory for the Loyalists and natives during the frontier war. British, Loyalist and Native forces would engage in fighting with American forces once more the following month in Wheeling, West Virginia, during the Siege of Fort Henry.

Loyalist militias clash with Patriot militias at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Expulsion of the Loyalists

1783 Jan 1
, Québec

As the war concluded with Great Britain defeated by the Americans and the French, the most active Loyalists were no longer welcome in the United States, and sought to move elsewhere in the British Empire. The departing Loyalists were offered free land in British North America. Many were prominent colonists whose ancestors had originally settled in the early 17th century, while a portion were recent settlers in the Thirteen Colonies with few economic or social ties. Many had their property confiscated by Patriots.

Loyalists resettled in what was initially the Province of Quebec (including modern-day Ontario), and in Nova Scotia (including modern-day New Brunswick). Their arrival marked the arrival of an English-speaking population in the future Canada west and east of the Quebec border. Many Loyalists from the American South brought their slaves with them as slavery was also legal in Canada. An imperial law in 1790 assured prospective immigrants to Canada that their slaves would remain their property. However more black Loyalists were free, having been given their freedom from slavery by fighting for the British or joining British lines during the Revolution. The government helped them resettle in Canada as well, transporting nearly 3,500 free blacks to New Brunswick.

Treaty of Paris, by Benjamin West (1783), depicts the United States delegation at the Treaty of Paris

Treaty of Paris

1783 Sep 3
, Paris

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, officially ended the American Revolutionary War.


1784 Jan 1
, New England

The conflict between British subjects with the Crown against those with the Congress had lasted over eight years from 1775 to 1783. The last uniformed British troops departed their last east coast port cities in Savannah, Charleston, and New York City, by November 25, 1783. That marked the end of British occupation in the new United States.

Of the European powers with American colonies adjacent to the newly created United States, Spain was most threatened by American independence, and it was correspondingly the most hostile to it.

Casualties and losses

Up to 70,000 American Patriots died during active military service. Of these, approximately 6,800 were killed in battle, while at least 17,000 died from disease. The majority of the latter died while prisoners of war of the British, mostly in the prison ships in New York Harbor. The number of Patriots seriously wounded or disabled by the war has been estimated from 8,500 to 25,000.

The French suffered 2,112 killed in combat in the United States. The Spanish lost a total of 124 killed and 247 wounded in West Florida.

A British report in 1781 puts their total Army deaths at 6,046 in North America (1775–1779). Approximately 7,774 Germans died in British service in addition to 4,888 deserters; of the former, it is estimated 1,800 were killed in combat.


The American Revolution established the United States with its numerous civil liberties and set an example to overthrow both monarchy and colonial governments. The United States has the world's oldest written constitution, and the constitutions of other free countries often bear a striking resemblance to the US Constitution, often word-for-word in places. It inspired the French, Haitian, Latin American Revolutions, and others into the modern era.


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