American Revolutionary War





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1775 - 1783

American Revolutionary War

The American Revolutionary War, lasting from April 19, 1775, to September 3, 1783, was the conflict that led to the establishment of the United States. The war began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and escalated after the Second Continental Congress passed the Lee Resolution, proclaiming the Thirteen Colonies as independent states. Under the leadership of George Washington, the Continental Army fought against British, Loyalist, and Hessian forces. The war expanded to include support from France and Spain for the American cause, making it an international conflict involving theaters in North America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Tensions had been building between the American colonies and Britain due to various policies related to trade, taxation, and governance. These tensions reached a boiling point with events like the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. In response, Britain enacted punitive measures known as the Intolerable Acts, which led the colonies to convene the First Continental Congress and later the Second Continental Congress. These assemblies protested British policies and eventually shifted toward advocating full independence, formalizing militias into the Continental Army, and appointing George Washington as its commander.

Critical American victories, like the Battle of Saratoga, helped secure formal alliances with France and later Spain. These alliances provided essential military and financial support. The war reached its decisive climax at the Siege of Yorktown, where British General Cornwallis was forced to surrender, effectively ending major combat operations. After continued diplomatic efforts, the war formally concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which Britain acknowledged the United States as a sovereign nation. This war not only birthed a new nation but also set precedents in warfare, diplomacy, and governance that would have global repercussions.

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1764 Jan 1


Boston, MA, USA

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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1765 Jan 1

Stamp Act

Boston, MA, USA

The Stamp Act 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 from London which included an embossed revenue stamp.[4] Printed materials included legal documents, magazines, playing cards, newspapers, and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies, and it had to be paid in British currency, not in colonial paper money.[5]

The purpose of the tax was to pay for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War, but the colonists had never feared a French invasion to begin with, and they contended that they had already paid their share of the war expenses.[6] Colonists suggested that it was actually a matter of British patronage to surplus British officers and career soldiers who should be paid by London.

The Stamp Act was very unpopular among colonists. A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Their slogan was "No taxation without representation". Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests, and the Stamp Act Congress held in New York City was the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure when it petitioned Parliament and the King.

One member of the British Parliament argued that the American colonists were no different from the 90-percent of Great Britain who did not own property and thus could not vote, but who were nevertheless "virtually" represented by land-owning electors and representatives who had common interests with them.[7] Daniel Dulany, a Maryland attorney and politician, disputed this assertion in a widely read pamphlet, arguing that the relations between the Americans and the English electors were "a knot too infirm to be relied on" for proper representation, "virtual" or otherwise.[8] Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland. Protests and demonstrations increased, often initiated by the Sons of Liberty and occasionally involving hanging of effigies. Very soon, all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, and the tax was never effectively collected.[9]

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1765 May 15

Quartering Acts

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,[10] 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 Quartering Act 1774 was known as one of the Coercive Acts in Great Britain, and as part of the intolerable acts in the colonies. The Quartering Act applied to all of the colonies, and sought to create a more effective method of housing British troops in America. In a previous act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not provided.

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1770 Mar 5

Boston Massacre


The Boston Massacre was a confrontation in Boston on March 5, 1770, in which nine British soldiers shot several of a crowd of three or four hundred who were harassing them verbally and throwing various projectiles. The event was heavily publicized as "a massacre" by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.[12] British troops had been stationed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay since 1768 in order to support crown-appointed officials and to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.

Amid tense relations between the civilians and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry and verbally abused him. He was eventually supported by seven additional soldiers, led by Captain Thomas Preston, who were hit by clubs, stones, and snowballs. Eventually, one soldier fired, prompting the others to fire without an order by Preston. The gunfire instantly killed three people and wounded eight others, two of whom later died of their wounds.[12]

The crowd eventually dispersed after acting governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but they reformed the next day, prompting the withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder, and they were defended by future U.S. president John Adams. Six of the soldiers were acquitted; the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The two found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand.

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1772 Nov 1

Committees of Correspondence

New England, USA

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.[13]

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. In late 1774 and early 1775, they supervised the elections of provincial conventions, which began the operation of a true colonial government.[14]

Boston, whose radical leaders thought it was under increasingly hostile threats by the royal government, set up the first long-standing committee with the approval of a town meeting in late 1772. By spring 1773, Patriots decided to follow the Massachusetts system and began to set up their own committees in each colony. Virginia appointed an eleven-member committee in March, quickly followed by Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. By February 1774, eleven colonies had set up their own committees; of the thirteen colonies that eventually rebelled, only North Carolina and Pennsylvania had not.

Tea Act
Tea Act of 1773. ©HistoryMaps
1773 May 10

Tea Act

England, UK

The Tea Act 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The principal objective was to reduce the massive amount of tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the struggling company survive.[11] A related objective was to undercut the price of illegal tea, smuggled into Britain's North American colonies. This was supposed to convince the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to accept Parliament's right of taxation. Smuggled tea was a large issue for Britain and the East India Company, since approximately 86% of all the tea in America at the time was smuggled Dutch tea.

The Act granted the Company the right to directly ship its tea to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain, although the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. It received the royal assent on May 10, 1773. Colonists in the Thirteen Colonies recognized the implications of the Act's provisions, and a coalition of merchants, smugglers, and artisans similar to that which had opposed the Stamp Act 1765 mobilized opposition to the delivery and distribution of the tea.

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1773 Dec 16

Boston Tea Party

Boston, MA

The Boston Tea Party was an American political and mercantile protest on December 16, 1773 by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in colonial Massachusetts.[15] 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. In response, the Sons of Liberty, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.

The demonstrators boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The British government considered the protest an act of treason and responded harshly.[16] The episode escalated into the American Revolution, becoming an iconic event of American history. Since then other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, a tax passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act believing it violated their rights as Englishmen to "no taxation without representation", that is, to be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a parliament in which they were not represented. The well-connected East India Company also had been granted competitive advantages over colonial tea importers, who resented the move and feared additional infringement on their business.[17] Protesters had prevented the unloading of tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Great Britain.

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1774 Mar 31

Intolerable Acts

London, UK

The Intolerable Acts, sometimes referred to as the Insufferable Acts or Coercive Acts, were a series of five punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws aimed to punish Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest of the Tea Act, a tax measure enacted by Parliament in May 1773. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts. They were a key development leading to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in April 1775.

Four acts were enacted by Parliament in early 1774 in direct response to the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773: Boston Port, Massachusetts Government, Impartial Administration of Justice, and Quartering Acts.[18] The acts took away self-governance and rights that Massachusetts had enjoyed since its founding, triggering outrage and indignation in the Thirteen Colonies.

The British Parliament hoped these punitive measures would, by making an example of Massachusetts, reverse the trend of colonial resistance to parliamentary authority that had begun with the Sugar Act 1764. A fifth act, the Quebec Act, enlarged the boundaries of what was then the Province of Quebec notably southwestward into the Ohio Country and other future mid-western states, and instituted reforms generally favorable to the francophone Catholic inhabitants of the region. Although unrelated to the other four Acts, it was passed in the same legislative session and seen by the colonists as one of the Intolerable Acts. The Patriots viewed the acts as an arbitrary violation of the rights of Massachusetts, and in September 1774 they organized the First Continental Congress to coordinate a protest. As tensions escalated, the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, leading to the declaration of an independent United States of America in July 1776.

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1774 Sep 5 - Oct 26

First Continental Congress

Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia

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.

As a prelude to its decisions, the Congress's first action was the adoption of the Suffolk Resolves, a measure drawn up by several counties in Massachusetts that included a declaration of grievances, called for a trade boycott of British goods, and urged each colony to set up and train its own militia. A less radical plan was then proposed to create a Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, but the delegates tabled the measure and later struck it from the record of their proceedings. They then agreed on a Declaration and Resolves that included the Continental Association, a proposal for an embargo on British trade. They also drew up a Petition to the King pleading for redress of their grievances and repeal of the Intolerable Acts. That appeal had no effect, so the colonies convened the Second Continental Congress the following May, shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, to organize the defense of the colonies at the outset of the Revolutionary War.

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1775 Apr 19

Battles of Lexington and Concord

Middlesex County, Massachusett

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
©Don Troiani
1775 Apr 19 - 1776 Mar 17

Siege of Boston

Boston, MA, USA

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.

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga
A print depicting Ethan Allen's Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. ©John Steeple Davis
1775 May 10

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

Ticonderoga, New York

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 in the noble train of artillery and used to fortify Dorchester Heights and break the standoff at the siege of Boston.

Capture of the fort marked the beginning of offensive action taken by the Americans against the British. After seizing Ticonderoga, a small detachment captured the nearby Fort Crown Point on May 11. Seven days later, Arnold and 50 men raided Fort Saint-Jean on the Richelieu River in southern Quebec, seizing military supplies, cannons, and the largest military vessel on Lake Champlain.

Although the scope of this military action was relatively minor, it had significant strategic importance. It impeded communication between northern and southern units of the British Army, and gave the nascent Continental Army a staging ground for the invasion of Quebec later in 1775. It also involved two larger-than-life personalities in Allen and Arnold, each of whom sought to gain as much credit and honor as possible for these events. Most significantly, in an effort led by Henry Knox, artillery from Ticonderoga was dragged across Massachusetts to the heights commanding Boston Harbor, forcing the British to withdraw from that city.

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1775 Jun 14

Continental Army formed

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.

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1775 Jun 17

Battle of Bunker Hill

Charlestown, Boston

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.[19] Bunker Hill was the original objective of both the colonial and British troops, though the majority of combat took place on the adjacent hill which became known as Breed's Hill.[20]

On June 13, 1775, the leaders of the colonial forces besieging Boston learned that the British were planning to send troops out from the city to fortify the unoccupied hills surrounding the city, which would give them control of Boston Harbor. In response, 1,200 colonial troops under the command of William Prescott stealthily occupied Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill. They constructed a strong redoubt on Breed's Hill overnight, as well as smaller fortified lines across the Charlestown Peninsula.[21]

By daybreak of June 17, the British became aware of the presence of colonial forces on the Peninsula and mounted an attack against them. The Americans repulsed two British assaults, with significant British casualties; the British captured the redoubt on their third assault, after the defenders ran out of ammunition. The colonists retreated over Bunker Hill, leaving the British[22] in control of the Peninsula.[23]

The battle was a tactical victory for the British,[24] but it proved to be a sobering experience for them; they incurred many more casualties than the Americans had sustained, including many officers. The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle. Subsequently, the battle discouraged the British from any further frontal attacks against well defended front lines. American casualties were much fewer, although their losses included General Joseph Warren and Major Andrew McClary. The battle led the British to adopt a more cautious planning and maneuver execution in future engagements, which was evident in the subsequent New York and New Jersey campaign. The costly engagement also convinced the British of the need to hire substantial numbers of Hessian auxiliaries to bolster their strength in the face of the new and formidable Continental Army.

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1775 Aug 1 - 1776 Oct

Invasion of Quebec

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.

Western theater of the American Revolutionary War
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. ©Gilbert Stuart
1775 Oct 1 - 1782

Western theater of the American Revolutionary War

Ohio River, USA

The Western theater of the American Revolutionary War involved military campaigns in regions that are today part of the Midwestern United States, mainly focusing on the Ohio Country, Illinois Country, and parts of present-day Indiana and Kentucky. The theater was characterized by sporadic fighting and skirmishes between British forces, along with their Native American allies, and American settlers and militia. Notable figures in this theater included American General George Rogers Clark, who led a small force that captured British posts in the Illinois Country, effectively securing territory in the Midwest for the American cause.

One of the most significant campaigns in the Western theater was Clark's 1778-1779 Illinois Campaign. Clark captured Kaskaskia and Cahokia without firing a shot, mainly due to the element of surprise. He then moved against Vincennes, capturing it and taking the British Lt. Governor Henry Hamilton prisoner. The capture of these forts weakened British influence in the region and garnered French and Native American support for the American cause. This helped to secure the western frontier and kept British and Native American forces occupied, preventing them from reinforcing British troops in the eastern theater.

The Western theater was vital for both sides in terms of strategic resources and support from Native American tribes. British forts such as Detroit served as important staging points for raids into American territory. Native American alliances were actively sought by both sides, but despite some successes for the British and their Native American allies in the form of raids and skirmishes, the American capture and control of key posts weakened British influence and contributed to American victory. The actions in the Western theater, though less renowned than those in the East, played a significant role in stretching British resources thin and adding to the geopolitical complexity that ultimately favored the American cause.

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1775 Nov 7

Dunmore's Proclamation

Virginia, USA

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 ©Don Troiani
1775 Dec 9

Battle of Great Bridge

Chesapeake, VA, USA

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.

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1775 Dec 31

Battle of Quebec

Québec, QC, Canada

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.

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1776 Jan 10

Common Sense

Philadelphia, PA, USA

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.

Battle of the Rice Boats
Patriot Militia ©Anonymous
1776 Mar 2 - Mar 3

Battle of the Rice Boats

Savannah, GA, USA

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.

British evacuate Boston
An engraving depicting the British evacuation of Boston, March 17, 1776, at the end of the Siege of Boston ©Anonymous
1776 Mar 17

British evacuate Boston

Boston, MA

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. Loyalist Crean Brush was authorized to receive these goods, in return for which he gave certificates that were effectively worthless.[25] 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.[26]

On March 15, the wind became favorable for the British, but it turned against them before they could leave. On March 17, the wind once again turned favorable. The troops were authorized to burn the town if there were any disturbances while they were marching to their ships;[25] they began to move out at 4:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., all ships were underway.[27] The fleet departing from Boston included 120 ships, with more than 11,000 people on board. Of those, 9,906 were British troops, 667 were women, and 553 were children.[28]

Battle of the Cedars
Brigadier General Benedict Arnold ©John Trumbull
1776 May 18 - May 27

Battle of the Cedars

Les Cèdres, Quebec, Canada

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
1776 Jun 8

Battle of Trois-Rivières

Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada

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.

Battle of Sullivan's Island
An image of Sgt. Jasper raising the battle flag of the colonial forces ©Johannes Oertel
1776 Jun 28

Battle of Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island, South Carol

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.

British Momentumornament
New York & New Jersey Campaign
The Battle of Long Island, 1776. ©Alonzo Chappel
1776 Jul 1 - 1777 Mar

New York & New Jersey Campaign

New York, NY, USA

The New York and New Jersey campaign of 1776-1777 was a pivotal series of battles in the American Revolutionary War between British forces led by General Sir William Howe and the Continental Army under General George Washington. Howe began by successfully driving Washington out of New York, landing on Staten Island and later defeating him on Long Island. However, the British campaign started to lose momentum as they extended into New Jersey. Washington's army managed to make strategic retreats, first across the Hudson River and then across New Jersey, evading capture and preserving the Continental Army despite suffering from declining numbers and low morale.

The turning point in the campaign came during the winter months. Howe decided to establish a chain of outposts stretching from New York City to Burlington, New Jersey, and ordered his troops into winter quarters. Seizing this opportunity, Washington led a daring and morale-boosting attack against the British garrison at Trenton on December 26, 1776. This victory led Howe to pull back his outposts closer to New York, while Washington established his winter camp at Morristown, New Jersey. Both sides continued to skirmish in the New York and New Jersey area, but the focus of the war started to shift to other theaters.

Despite the mixed results, the British managed to hold New York Harbor for the remainder of the war, using it as a base for other military expeditions. In 1777, Howe initiated a campaign aimed at capturing Philadelphia, the revolutionary capital, leaving the New York area under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton. Concurrently, another British force led by General John Burgoyne tried and failed to control the Hudson River Valley, culminating in a critical defeat at Saratoga. Overall, while the New York and New Jersey campaign initially appeared advantageous for the British, its inconclusive end marked a vital stabilization point for the American forces and set the stage for subsequent conflicts and alliances.

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1776 Jul 4

United States Declaration of Independence

Philadephia, PA

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.

Support for independence was boosted by Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, which was published January 10, 1776 and argued for American self-government and was widely reprinted.[29] To draft the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress appointed the Committee of Five, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston.[30] The declaration was written almost exclusively by Jefferson, who wrote it largely in isolation between June 11 and June 28, 1776, in a three-story residence at 700 Market Street in Philadelphia.[31]

Identifying inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies as "one people", the declaration simultaneously dissolved political links with Britain, while including a long list of alleged violations of "English rights" committed by George III. This is also one of the foremost times that the colonies were referred to as "United States", rather than the more common United Colonies.[32]

On July 2, Congress voted for independence and published the declaration on July 4,[33] which Washington read to his troops in New York City on July 9.[34] At this point, the revolution ceased to be an internal dispute over trade and tax policies and had evolved into a civil war, since each state represented in Congress was engaged in a struggle with Britain, but also split between American Patriots and American Loyalists.[35] Patriots generally supported independence from Britain and a new national union in Congress, while Loyalists remained faithful to British rule. Estimates of numbers vary, one suggestion being the population as a whole was split evenly between committed Patriots, committed Loyalists, and those who were indifferent.[36] Others calculate the split as 40% Patriot, 40% neutral, 20% Loyalist, but with considerable regional variations.[37]

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1776 Aug 27

Battle of Long Island

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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.

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1776 Sep 16

Battle of Harlem Heights

Morningside Heights, Manhattan

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
1776 Oct 11

Battle of Valcour Island

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.

Battle of White Plains
Hessian Fuselier Regiment Von Lossberg fording the Bronx river at the battle of White Plains ©GrahaM Turner
1776 Oct 28

Battle of White Plains

White Plains, New York, USA

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.

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1776 Nov 16

Battle of Fort Washington

Washington Heights, Manhattan,

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.[38]

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[39] but which later grew to 3,000[40] – 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, and the obstacles meant to deter an attack were bypassed with ease.[41] 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.

Crossing of the Delaware River
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. ©Emanuel Leutze
1776 Dec 25

Crossing of the Delaware River

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.

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1776 Dec 26

Battle of Trenton

Trenton, NJ

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
George Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge. ©John Ward Dunsmore
1777 Jan 1 - Mar

Forage War

New Jersey, USA

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.

Battle of the Assunpink Creek
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
1777 Jan 2

Battle of the Assunpink Creek

Trenton, New Jersey, USA

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.

Battle of Princeton
General George Washington rallying his troops at the Battle of Princeton. ©William Ranney
1777 Jan 3

Battle of Princeton

Princeton, New Jersey, USA

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.

Battle of Bound Brook
Hessians at the Battle of Bound Brook ©Don Troiani
1777 Apr 13

Battle of Bound Brook

Bound Brook, New Jersey, U.S.

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 ©Anonymous
1777 May 24

Meigs Raid

Sag Harbor, NY, USA

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.

Philadelphia Campaign
Portrait of George Washington. ©Léon Cogniet
1777 Jul 1 - 1778 Jul

Philadelphia Campaign

Philadelphia, PA, USA

The Philadelphia campaign (1777–1778) was a British effort in the American Revolutionary War to gain control of Philadelphia, the Revolutionary-era capital where the Second Continental Congress convened and signed the Declaration of Independence, which formalized and escalated the war.

As part of the Philadelphia campaign, British General William Howe, after failing to draw the Continental Army under General George Washington into a battle in North Jersey, embarked his army on transports, and landed them at the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay. From there, he advanced northward toward Philadelphia. Washington prepared defenses against Howe's movements at Brandywine Creek, but was flanked and beaten back in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. After further skirmishes and maneuvers, Howe entered and occupied Philadelphia. Washington then unsuccessfully attacked one of Howe's garrisons at Germantown before retreating to Valley Forge for the winter.

Howe's campaign was controversial because, while he succeeded in capturing the American capital of Philadelphia, he proceeded slowly and did not aid the concurrent campaign of John Burgoyne further north, which ended in disaster for the British in the Battles of Saratoga and brought France into the war. Howe resigned during the occupation of Philadelphia and was replaced by his second-in-command, General Sir Henry Clinton. Clinton evacuated Philadelphia and moved his troops back to New York City in 1778, in order to stiffen that city's defenses against a possible combined Franco-American attack. Washington then harried the British Army all the way across New Jersey, and forced a battle at Monmouth Court House that was one of the war's largest battles. At the end of the Philadelphia campaign in 1778, the two armies found themselves in roughly the same strategic positions that they had been in before Howe launched the attack on Philadelphia.

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
Siege of Fort Ticonderoga ©Gerry Embleton
1777 Jul 2 - Jul 6

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Ti Road

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.

Battle of Oriskany
Although wounded, General Nicholas Herkimer rallies the Tryon County militia at the Battle of Oriskany ©Frederick Coffay Yohn
1777 Aug 6

Battle of Oriskany

Oriskany, New York, USA

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.

Turning Pointornament
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1777 Aug 16

Battle of Bennington

Walloomsac, New York, USA

The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, part of the Saratoga campaign, that took place on August 16, 1777, on a farm 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.

Baum's detachment was a mixed force of 700, composed primarily of dismounted Brunswick dragoons, Canadians, Loyalists and Indians.[42] He was sent by Burgoyne to raid Bennington in the disputed New Hampshire Grants area for horses, draft animals, provisions, and other supplies. Believing the town to be only lightly defended, Burgoyne and Baum were unaware that Stark and 1,500 militiamen were stationed there. After a rain-caused standoff, Stark's men enveloped Baum's position, taking many prisoners, and killing Baum. Reinforcements for both sides arrived as Stark and his men were mopping up, and the battle restarted, with Warner and Stark driving away Breymann's reinforcements with heavy casualties.

The battle was a major strategic success for the American cause and is considered part of the turning point of the Revolutionary War; it reduced Burgoyne's army in size by almost 1,000 men, led his Native American supporters to largely abandon him, and deprived him of much-needed supplies, such as mounts for his cavalry regiments, draft animals and provisions, all factors that contributed to Burgoyne's eventual defeat at Saratoga. The victory galvanized colonial support for the independence movement, and played a key role in bringing France into the war on the rebel side. The battle's anniversary is celebrated in the state of Vermont as Bennington Battle Day.

Battle of Brandywine
Nation Makers ©Howard Pyle
1777 Sep 11

Battle of Brandywine

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, USA

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.[43] It was also the second single-day battle of the war, after the Battle of Monmouth, with continuous fighting for 11 hours.[43]

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.[44] 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.

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1777 Sep 19

Battles of Saratoga

Stillwater, Saratogy County

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 an invasion army of 7,200–8,000 men 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 goal was to take Albany, New York. The southern and western forces never arrived, and Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in upstate New York 15 miles (24 km) short of his goal. He fought two battles which took place 18 days apart on the same ground 9 miles (14 km) south of Saratoga, New York. He gained a victory in the first battle despite being outnumbered, but lost the second battle after the Americans returned with an even larger force.

Burgoyne found himself trapped by much larger American forces with no relief, so he retreated to Saratoga (now Schuylerville) and surrendered his entire army there on October 17. His surrender, says historian Edmund Morgan, "was a great turning point of the war because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory."[45]

Burgoyne's strategy to divide New England from the southern colonies had started well but slowed due to logistical problems. He won a small tactical victory over American General Horatio Gates and the Continental Army in the September 19 Battle of Freeman's Farm at the cost of significant casualties. His gains were erased when he again attacked the Americans in the October 7 Battle of Bemis Heights and the Americans captured a portion of the British defenses. Burgoyne was therefore compelled to retreat, and his army was surrounded by the much larger American force at Saratoga, forcing him to surrender on October 17. News of Burgoyne's surrender was instrumental in formally bringing France into the war as an American ally, although it had previously given supplies, ammunition, and guns, notably the de Valliere cannon which played an important role in Saratoga.

The battle on September 19 began when Burgoyne moved some of his troops in an attempt to flank the entrenched American position on Bemis Heights. American Major General Benedict Arnold anticipated the maneuver and placed significant forces in his way. Burgoyne did gain control of Freeman's Farm, but it came at the cost of significant casualties. Skirmishing continued in the days following the battle, while Burgoyne waited in the hope that reinforcements would arrive from New York City. Patriot militia forces continued to arrive, meanwhile, swelling the size of the American army. Disputes within the American camp led Gates to strip Arnold of his command.

British General Sir Henry Clinton moved up from New York City and attempted to divert American attention by capturing Forts Clinton and Montgomery in the Hudson River highlands on October 6, and Kingston on October 13, but his efforts were too late to help Burgoyne. Burgoyne attacked Bemis Heights again on October 7 after it became apparent that he would not receive relieving aid in time. This battle culminated in heavy fighting marked by Arnold's spirited rallying of the American troops. Burgoyne's forces were thrown back to the positions that they held before the September 19 battle, and the Americans captured a portion of the entrenched British defenses.

Battle of Paoli
A Dreadful scene of havock, depicting the British light infantry and light dragoons attacking the Continental Army encampment at Paoli on 20 September 1777 ©Xavier della Gatta
1777 Sep 20

Battle of Paoli

Willistown Township, PA, USA

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 ©Alonzo Chappel
1777 Oct 4

Battle of Germantown

Germantown, Philadelphia, Penn

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
1777 Oct 22

Battle of Red Bank

Fort Mercer, Hessian Avenue, N

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
1777 Dec 5

Battle of White Marsh

Whitemarsh Township, Montgomer

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.

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1777 Dec 19

Valley Forge

Valley Forge, PA

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.

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1778 Feb 6

Treaty of Alliance

Paris, France

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
1778 May 20

Battle of Barren Hill

Lafayette Hill, PA, USA

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.

Stalemate in the Northornament
Mount Hope Bay raids
General Sir Robert Pigot, the organizer of the raids ©Francis Cotes
1778 May 25 - May 31

Mount Hope Bay raids

Fall River, Massachusetts, USA

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.

Battle of Monmouth
Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth. ©Emanuel Leutze
1778 Jun 28

Battle of Monmouth

Freehold Township, NJ

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.

Illinois campaign
Clark's march to Vincennes. ©F. C. Yohn
1778 Jul 1 - 1779 Feb

Illinois campaign

Illinois, USA

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.

Battle of Rhode Island
Continental Army in battle ©Graham Turner
1778 Aug 29

Battle of Rhode Island

Aquidneck Island, Rhode 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.

1778 - 1781
Southern Campaignornament
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1778 Oct 1 - 1782

British move South

Georgia, USA

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 Massace ©Alonzo Chappel
1778 Nov 11

Cherry Valley Massacre

Cherry Valley, New York, USA

The Cherry Valley massacre was an attack by British and Iroquois forces on a fort and the town 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.[46] A mixed force of Loyalists, British soldiers, Senecas, 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 killed, in addition to a number of armed defenders.

The raiders were under the overall command of Walter Butler, who exercised little authority over the Indian warriors on the expedition. Historian Barbara Graymont describes Butler's command of the expedition as "criminally incompetent".[47] The Seneca were angered by accusations that they had committed atrocities at the Battle of Wyoming, and the colonists' recent destruction of their forward bases of operation at Unadilla, Onaquaga, and Tioga. Butler's authority with the Indigenous People was undermined by his poor treatment of Joseph Brant, the leader of the Mohawks. Butler repeatedly maintained that he was powerless to restrain the Seneca, despite accusations that he permitted the atrocities to take place.

During the campaigns of 1778, Brant achieved an undeserved reputation for brutality. He was not present at Wyoming — although many thought he was — and he along with Captain Jacob (Scott) of the Saponi (Catawba) actively sought to minimize the atrocities that took place at Cherry Valley. Given that Butler was the overall commander of the expedition, there is controversy as to who actually ordered or failed to restrain the killings.[48] The massacre contributed to calls for reprisals, leading to the 1779 Sullivan Expedition which saw the total military defeat of the Iroquois in Upstate New York, who allied with the British.

Capture of Savannah
Attack on Savannah ©Anonymous
1778 Dec 29

Capture of Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

The Capture of Savannah 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, commanded by 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.

General Sir Henry Clinton, the Commander-in-Chief, North America, dispatched Campbell and a 3,100-strong force from New York City to capture Savannah, and begin the process of returning Georgia to British control. He was to be assisted by troops under the command of Brigadier General Augustine Prevost that were marching up from Saint Augustine in East Florida. After landing near Savannah on December 23, Campbell assessed the American defenses, which were comparatively weak, and decided to attack without waiting for Prevost. Taking advantage of local assistance he flanked the American position outside the city, captured a large portion of Major General Robert Howe's army, and drove the remnants to retreat into South Carolina.

Campbell and Prevost followed up the victory with the capture of Sunbury and an expedition to Augusta. The latter was occupied by Campbell only for a few weeks before he retreated to Savannah, citing insufficient Loyalist and Native American support and the threat of Patriot forces across the Savannah River in South Carolina. The British held off a Franco-American siege in 1779, and held the city until late in the war.

Battle of Kettle Creek
Battle of Kettle Creek ©Jeff Trexler
1779 Feb 14

Battle of Kettle Creek

Washington, Georgia, USA

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.[49] 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.

Siege of Fort Vincennes
Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton surrenders to Colonel George Rogers Clark, February 25, 1779. ©H. Charles McBarron Jr.
1779 Feb 23 - Feb 25

Siege of Fort Vincennes

Vincennes, Indiana, USA

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
Battle of Brier Creek ©Graham Turner
1779 Mar 3

Battle of Brier Creek

Sylvania, Georgia, USA

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
©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1779 May 10

Chesapeake Raid

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.
Spain and the American Revolutionary War
Bernardo de Gálvez at the siege of Pensacola ©Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
1779 Jun 1

Spain and the American Revolutionary War

Florida, USA

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.[50] 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".[51]

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.

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1779 Jun 18 - Oct 3

Sullivan Expedition

Upstate New York, NY, USA

The 1779 Sullivan Expedition was a United States military campaign during the American Revolutionary War, lasting from June to October 1779, against the four British allied nations of the Iroquois (also known as the Haudenosaunee). The campaign was ordered by George Washington in response to the 1778 Iroquois and British attacks on Wyoming, German Flatts, and Cherry Valley. The campaign had the aim of "taking the war home to the enemy to break their morale".[52] The Continental Army carried out a scorched-earth campaign in the territory of the Iroquois Confederacy in what is now western and central New York.

The expedition was largely successful, with more than 40 Iroquois villages razed and their crops and food stores destroyed. The campaign drove 5,000 Iroquois to Fort Niagara seeking British protection. The campaign depopulated the area for post-war settlement and opened up the vast Ohio Country, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky to post-war settlement. Some scholars argue that it was an attempt to annihilate the Iroquois and describe the expedition as a genocide,[53] although this term is disputed, and it is not commonly used when discussing the expedition. Historian Fred Anderson, describes the expedition as "close to ethnic cleansing" instead.[54] Some historians have also related this campaign to the concept of total war, in the sense that the total destruction of the enemy was on the table.[55]

Battle of Stono Ferry
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
1779 Jun 20

Battle of Stono Ferry

Rantowles, South Carolina, USA

The Battle of Stono Ferry took place on June 20, 1779, near Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolutionary War. American forces led by General Benjamin Lincoln aimed to disrupt British operations by attacking a fortified British position at Stono Ferry. Despite initial gains, the Americans were unable to dislodge the British troops, who were commanded by Colonel John Maitland. The battle resulted in significant casualties for both sides but was ultimately considered a British tactical victory as they maintained control of the strategic ferry crossing. The confrontation did, however, halt British expeditions temporarily, providing the Americans some respite in the Southern theater.

Tryon's raid
©Dan Nance
1779 Jul 1

Tryon's raid

New Haven, CT, USA

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.

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1779 Jul 16

Battle of Stony Point

Stony Point, New York, U.S.

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.

Penobscot Expedition
Destruction of the American Fleet at Penobscot Bay, 14 August 1779. ©Dominic Serres
1779 Jul 24 - Aug 16

Penobscot Expedition

Penobscot Bay, Maine, USA

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.

Gulf Coast campaign
Painting depicting the Spanish advance at the lower Mississippi ©Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
1779 Aug 1

Gulf Coast campaign

Pensacola, FL, USA

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
©José Ferre-Clauzel
1779 Sep 7

Capture of Fort Bute

East Baton Rouge Parish, LA, U

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
1779 Sep 10

Battle of Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana,

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
©Osprey Publishing
1779 Sep 12

Battle of Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, LA, USA

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.

Siege of Savannah
Attack on Savannah ©A. I. Keller
1779 Oct 18

Siege of Savannah

Savannah, Georgia, United Stat

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.[56] This French-colonial force had been established six months earlier and was led by white officers. Recruits came from the black population and included free men of color as well as slaves seeking their freedom in exchange for their service.[57]

Battle of Cape St. Vincent
The Moonlight Battle off Cape St. Vincent ©Richard Paton
1780 Jan 16

Battle of Cape St. Vincent

Cape St. Vincent, Sagres, Port

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
©Gilles Boué
1780 Mar 2

Battle of Fort Charlotte

Mobile, Alabama, USA

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.

Siege of Charleston
A depiction of the Siege of Charleston (1780). ©Alonzo Chappel
1780 Mar 29 - May 12

Siege of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

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 ©Graham Turner
1780 Apr 14

Battle of Monck's Corner

Moncks Corner, South Carolina,

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.

Battle of St. Louis
Indian Attack on the Village of Saint Louis, 1780 ©Oscar E. Berninghaus
1780 May 25

Battle of St. Louis

St. Louis, MO, USA

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.

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1780 May 29

Waxhaw Massacre

Buford, South Carolina, USA

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.[58]

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 ©Anonymous
1780 Jun 7

Battle of Connecticut Farms

Union Township, New Jersey, US

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
Battle of Springfield ©John Ward Dunsmore
1780 Jun 23

Battle of Springfield

Union County, New Jersey, USA

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.[59] 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.[60]

Battle of Hanging Rock
Battle of Hanging Rock ©Dan Nance
1780 Aug 6

Battle of Hanging Rock

Lancaster County, South Caroli

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.

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1780 Aug 16

Battle of Camden

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.

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1780 Oct 7

Battle of Kings Mountain

South Carolina, USA

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".[61]

Ferguson had arrived in North Carolina in early September 1780 to recruit troops for the Loyalist militia and protect the flank of Lord Cornwallis's main force. Ferguson challenged Patriot militias to lay down their arms or suffer the consequences. In response, the Patriot militias led by Benjamin Cleveland, James Johnston, William Campbell, John Sevier, Joseph McDowell and Isaac Shelby rallied to attack Ferguson and his forces.

Receiving intelligence on the oncoming attack, Ferguson decided to retreat to the safety of Lord Cornwallis's army. However, the Patriots caught up with the Loyalists at Kings Mountain near the border with South Carolina. Achieving a complete surprise, the Patriot militiamen attacked and surrounded the Loyalists, inflicting severe casualties. After an hour of battle, Ferguson was fatally shot while trying to break the Patriot line, after which his men surrendered. Some Patriots gave no quarter until their officers re-established control over their men; they were said to be seeking revenge for alleged killings by Banastre Tarleton's militiamen at the Battle of Waxhaws, under the slogan "Remember Tarleton's Quarter". Although victorious, the Patriots had to retreat quickly from the area for fear of Cornwallis' advance. Later they executed nine Loyalist prisoners after a short trial.

The battle was a pivotal event in the Southern campaign. The surprising victory of the American Patriot militia over the Loyalists came after a string of Patriot defeats at the hands of Lord Cornwallis, and greatly raised the Patriots' morale. With Ferguson dead and his Loyalist militia destroyed, Cornwallis transferred his army into North Carolina and eventually Virginia.

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1781 Jan 1

Yorktown campaign

Yorktown, VA, USA

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
©Don Troiani
1781 Jan 7

Battle of Mobile

Mobile, AL, USA

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.

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1781 Jan 17

Battle of Cowpens

Cherokee County, South Carolin

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 American Patriot forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and British forces, nearly half American Loyalists, 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.

Morgan's forces conducted a double envelopment of Tarleton's forces, the only double envelopment of the war. Tarleton's force of 1000 British troops were set against 1000 troops under Morgan. Morgan's forces suffered casualties of only 25 killed and 124 wounded. Tarleton's force was almost completely eliminated with almost 30% casualties and 55% of his force captured or missing, with Tarleton himself and only about 200 British troops escaping.

A small force of the Continental Army under the command of Morgan had marched to the west of the Catawba River, in order to forage for supplies and raise the morale of local colonial sympathizers. The British had received incorrect reports that Morgan's army was planning to attack the important strategic fort of Ninety Six, held by American Loyalists to the British Crown and located in the west of the Carolinas. The British considered Morgan's army a threat to their left flank. General Charles Cornwallis dispatched cavalry (dragoons) commander Tarleton to defeat Morgan's command. Upon learning Morgan's army was not at Ninety Six, Tarleton, bolstered by British reinforcements, set off in hot pursuit of the American detachment.

Morgan resolved to make a stand near the Broad River. He selected a position on two low hills in open woodland, with the expectation that the aggressive Tarleton would make a headlong assault without pausing to devise a more intricate plan. He deployed his army in three main lines. Tarleton's army, after an exhausting march, reached the field malnourished and heavily fatigued. Tarleton attacked immediately; however, the American defense-in-depth absorbed the impact of the British attack. The British lines lost their cohesion as they hurried after the retreating Americans. When Morgan's army went on the offensive, it wholly overwhelmed Tarleton's force.

Tarleton's brigade was wiped out as an effective fighting force, and, coupled with the British defeat at the Battle of Kings Mountain in the northwest corner of South Carolina, this action compelled Cornwallis to pursue the main southern American army into North Carolina, leading to the Battle of Guilford Court House, and Cornwallis's eventual defeat at the siege of Yorktown in Virginia in October 1781.

Siege of Pensacola
Spanish grenadiers and militia pour into Fort George. ©United States Army Center of Military History.
1781 Mar 9

Siege of Pensacola

Pensacola, FL, USA

The Siege of Pensacola, which took place between March and May 1781, was a critical battle in the American Revolutionary War, led by Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez and involving a diverse coalition of Spanish, French, and American forces. Facing multiple attacks by pro-British Choctaw Indians and British troops, as well as inclement weather, the Spanish army was bolstered by reinforcements from Havana. After an intense siege involving elaborate engineering works and bombardments, a howitzer shell struck a British magazine, causing a devastating explosion. This event turned the tide in favor of the Spanish, who soon overwhelmed the remaining British defenses. General John Campbell surrendered on May 10, 1781, resulting in a significant Spanish victory that ended British sovereignty in West Florida and weakened British influence in the Gulf of Mexico.

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1781 Mar 15

Battle of Guilford Court House

Greensboro, North Carolina

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).[62]

The battle was "the largest and most hotly contested action"[63] 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.

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1781 May 22 - Jun 19

Siege of Ninety-Six

Ninety Six, South Carolina, US

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 ©Anonymous
1781 Aug 24

Lochry's Defeat

Aurora, Indiana, USA

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
The French line (left) and British line (right) do battle. ©V. Zveg
1781 Sep 5

Battle of the Chesapeake

Cape Charles, VA, USA

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,[64] 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.

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1781 Sep 6

Battle of Groton Heights

New London Road & Connecticut

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
1781 Sep 8

Battle of Eutaw Springs

Eutawville, South Carolina

The Battle of Eutaw Springs, fought on September 8, 1781, was one of the last major engagements of the American Revolutionary War in the southern colonies. American forces led by General Nathanael Greene engaged British troops commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart near Eutawville, South Carolina. The battle began favorably for the Americans, who pushed the British back and captured their camp. However, looting and a strong British counterattack turned the tide. Both sides suffered heavy casualties, and while technically a British tactical victory as they held the field, the engagement resulted in strategic gains for the Americans. The battle severely depleted British troops and contributed to the eventual evacuation of Charleston by British forces, marking it as a turning point in the southern theater.

1781 - 1783
Closing Stagesornament
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1781 Sep 28 - Oct 19

Siege of Yorktown

Yorktown, VA

The Siege of Yorktown, fought between September 28 and October 19, 1781, was a decisive engagement that effectively ended major hostilities in the American Revolutionary War. General George Washington, leading a combined force of American Continental Army troops and French allies, laid siege to the British-held town of Yorktown, Virginia. The British garrison was commanded by General Charles Cornwallis, who had taken a defensive position in the hopes of being resupplied or reinforced by the British navy. However, the French navy, under the command of Admiral de Grasse, successfully blockaded Chesapeake Bay, cutting off Cornwallis from any naval support.

The allied forces constructed siege lines and began to bombard the British positions, making it increasingly difficult for Cornwallis to hold out. American and French troops methodically closed in on the British defenses, while their artillery steadily weakened the British capability to fight back. Washington ordered an attack on two key British redoubts on October 14, which were successfully captured, thereby allowing the allies to position their artillery even closer to the British lines.

Facing an untenable situation, Cornwallis attempted a failed breakout and ultimately was forced to seek terms of surrender. On October 19, 1781, British forces officially surrendered, effectively ending significant military activities in North America. The victory at Yorktown had far-reaching implications; it broke British resolve to continue the war and led to the commencement of peace negotiations. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, formally recognizing the United States of America as an independent nation.

Battle of Johnstown
©Ralph Earl
1781 Oct 25

Battle of Johnstown

Johnstown, New York, USA

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
1782 Jul 9

Battle of the Saintes


The Battle of the Saintes 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.[65] The British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney defeated a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse, forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica.[66] The French had blockaded the British Army at Chesapeake Bay the year before, during the Siege of Yorktown, and supported the eventual American victory in their revolution. This battle, however, halted their momentum and had a significant effect on peace negotiations to end the war.[67] The French suffered heavy casualties at the Saintes and many were taken prisoner, including de Grasse. Four French ships of the line were captured (including the flagship) and one was destroyed.

Battle of Blue Licks
Capt. Patterson’s Escape from the Battle of the Blue Licks ©Lafayette Studios
1782 Aug 19

Battle of Blue Licks

Mount Olivet, Kentucky, USA

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.

Expulsion of the Loyalists
Loyalist militias clash with Patriot militias at the Battle of Kings Mountain. ©Alonzo Chappel
1783 Jan 1

Expulsion of the Loyalists

Québec, QC, Canada

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.

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1783 Sep 3

Treaty of Paris

Paris, France

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States on September 3, 1783, officially ended the American Revolutionary War and state of conflict between the two countries and acknowledged the Thirteen Colonies, which had been part of colonial British America, as an independent and sovereign nation. The treaty set the boundaries between British North America, later called Canada and the United States, on lines the British labeled as "exceedingly generous".[68] Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war. This treaty and the separate peace treaties between Great Britain and the nations that supported the American cause, including France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic, are known collectively as the Peace of Paris.[69] Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States' existence as free, sovereign, and independent states, remains in force.[70]

1784 Jan 1


New England, USA

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.

A Quiz is available for this HistoryMap.



American Revolution (1765-1783)

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The Birth of the United States Navy

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The Navy was rooted in the colonial seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains, and shipbuilders. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own Massachusetts Naval Militia. The rationale for establishing a national navy was debated in the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah to interdict British merchantmen and reported the captures to the Congress. On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchantmen; this resolution created the Continental Navy and is considered the first establishment of the U.S. Navy. The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost twenty-four of its vessels and at one point was reduced to two in active service. In August 1785, after the Revolutionary War had drawn to a close, Congress had sold Alliance, the last ship remaining in the Continental Navy due to a lack of funds to maintain the ship or support a navy.


How Mercantilism Started the American Revolution

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Culper Spy Ring

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The Culper Ring was a network of spies active during the American Revolutionary War, organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge and General George Washington in 1778 during the British occupation of New York City. The name "Culper" was suggested by George Washington and taken from Culpeper County, Virginia. The leaders of the spy ring were Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend, using the aliases of "Samuel Culper Sr." and "Samuel Culper Jr.", respectively; Tallmadge was referred to as "John Bolton".

While Tallmadge was the spies' direct contact, Washington often directed their operations. The ring was tasked to provide Washington information on British Army operations in New York City, the British headquarters. Its members operated mostly in New York City, Long Island, and Connecticut between late October 1778 and the British evacuation of New York in 1783.

The information supplied by the spy ring included details of a surprise attack on the newly arrived French forces under Lieutenant General Rochambeau at Newport, Rhode Island, before they had recovered from their arduous sea voyage, as well as a British plan to counterfeit American currency on the actual paper used for Continental dollars, which prompted the Continental Congress to retire the bills.

The ring also informed Washington that Tryon's raid of July 1779 was intended to divide his forces and allow Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton to attack them piecemeal. In 1780, the Culper Ring discovered a high-ranking American officer, subsequently identified as Benedict Arnold, was plotting with British Major John André to turn over the vitally important American fort at West Point, New York on the Hudson River and surrender its garrison to the British forces.


Von Steuben's Continentals: The First American Army

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Riflemen, Snipers & Light Infantry - Continental 'Special Forces' of the American Revolution.

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African American Soldiers in the Continental Army

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Feeding Washington's Army | Read the Revolution with Ricardo A. Herrera

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American Revolution and the French Alliance

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Henry Clinton

Henry Clinton

British Army Officer

Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen

American Patriot

Henry Knox

Henry Knox

General of the Continental Army

General William Howe

General William Howe

Commander-in-Chief of the British

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

Founding Father

Guy Carleton

Guy Carleton

Governor of the Province of Quebec

Banastre Tarleton

Banastre Tarleton

British General

George Washington

George Washington

Commander of the Continental Army

Mariot Arbuthnot

Mariot Arbuthnot

British Admiral

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

American Patriot

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Prussian Military Officer

John Burgoyne

John Burgoyne

British General

John Hancock

John Hancock

Founding Father

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Founding Father

Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

General of the Continental Army

George III

George III

King of Great Britain and of Ireland

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Founding Father

William Howe

William Howe

Commander-in-Chief of British Army

William Pitt

William Pitt

British Prime Minister

Horatio Gates

Horatio Gates

General in the Continental Army

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

American Patriot

Thomas Gage

Thomas Gage

British Army General

General Charles Cornwallis

General Charles Cornwallis

British Army General

John Adams

John Adams

Founding Father

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold

American Military Officer

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Founding Father

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones

Patriot Naval Commander


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