The War- The first phase: New England Lexington & Concord
Paul Revere made his famous "Midnight Ride" to warn the minute men in Lexington.
Paul Revere made his famous "Midnight Ride" to warn the minute men in Lexington.
The first real altercation of the war took place at Lexington. The British declared the colony of Massachusetts in open rebellion and General Thomas Gage, the commander-in-chief of the British in the colonies, ordered the troops to destroy stores and rebels. On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mad their famous midnight ride to warn the minute men, the colonial militia, that the British were coming. The colonial militia commanded by John Parker dispersed after waiting in Lexington's green for hours. The British troops commanded by Francis Smith and James Pitcairn marched on toward Concord to destroy the stores there. Pitcairn became aware of the colonial militia, so he slowly moved toward Lexington, ordering his men not to fire. As Pitcairn's men approached, someone fired (it is unknown if it was an American or a Brit; and is also known as the "shot heard round the world") and the British quickly defeated the now small group of militia men in the Lexington green. Pitcairn's men then continued there march to Concord. The colonial militia marched toward the British, but quickly retreated to a near by hill. The British entered the town and began to destroy weapons and ammunition. The colonial militia saw fire rising from the town and so they marched back to town and opened fire on the British with about 400 men. The British troops retreated after awaiting reinforcements from Boston. Townspeople and Patriots shot at the British from hidden sites as the British retreated, killing many, but angering the British.


Battle/Siege of Boston After Lexington and Concord, Americans besieged the army of General Thomas Gage in Boston in an attempt to gain control of Boston. The Patriots suffered many casualties in the Battle of Bunker Hill (actually fought of Bread's Hill) on June 17, 1775 and were ultimately forced from their position. However, the British suffered greater losses and the Patriots continued their siege. By the first few months of 1776, the British learned New England was not the best place to wage the war because it was the center of the Patriot cause and the area was indefensible. The colonist had surrounded Boston and on March 17, 1776 the British and hundreds of Loyalists fled to Nova Scotia. The Americans had temporarily expelled the British from the colonies because they also failed in the South in North Carolina to unite with Tories and invade. The Americans then tried to invade Canada in order to remove the British threat and win the Canadians to their cause, but failed because of frustration and exhaustion.

AdvantagesThe British seemed to have all of the the advantages on the surface because the greatest navy and the best-equipped army in the world. They had access to the vast resources of an empire and had a strong command structure. Also, the Americans struggled to form a army and a new government while they were trying to wage war. The Americans soon realized the had many greater advantages that included they were fighting on their own soil and own resources. The Patriots, though not the entire population, were strongly devoted to their cause, while the British were only somewhat committed to the war. Eventually the Americans would also gain the support of foreign nations that would help fight the strong British navy and outlast them.

The War- The Second Phase: The Mid-Atlantic Region British Siege of New York
The British Strategy abandoned by Howe.
The British Strategy abandoned by Howe.
The middle phase of the war was the best chance for the British to crush the rebellion, had it not been for a series of blunders and misfortunes. The war had become a traditional war and this greatly favored the British. The largest British army (32,000 men) sent abroad at the time arrived in the waters around New York under the command of General William Howe. Howe offered Washington a chance to submit with royal pardon or a battle against overwhelming odds. Washington could only get together a poorly trained and armed army of 19,000 men from state militias and the Continental Army, but still did not accept Howe's offer. The British took control of New York by quickly pushing the Continentals off of Long Island and Manhattan. They forced them to retreat over the plains of New Jersey, across the Delaware River, and into Philadelphia. Warfare was seasonal activity during the eighteenth century and so the British set up camp in New Jersey and New York. However, Washington didn't sit still, He retook Trenton and Princeton, but could not hold and was forced to retreat again. Howe devised a plan to split the colonies into two, so he sent John Burgoyne to create a two-pronged attack from Canada. Fortunately, Howe abandoned the plan, instead he launched an attack on Philadelphia, the colonial capital.


Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 Howe took his large armada to the Chesapeake Bay to advance northward to Philadelphia. He quickly moved toward Philly defeating Washington at Brandywine Creek on September 11, and threw off Washington's attack at Germantown. Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge and the Continental Congress reassembled at York, Pennsylvania. Valley Forge proved to be a great camp because Washington continued to raid the British and the camp was easily defensible due to its natural surroundings. Burgoyne sent St. Leger to replace Howe in the two-pronged attack, while Howe took Philadelphia. Howe was wrong in thinking the siege of Philadelphia would unite Loyalists and quickly end the war.

Saratoga (The Turning Point)
The turning point of the war: The Battle of Saratoga!
The turning point of the war: The Battle of Saratoga!
Horatio Gates was given command of American forces in the North. Burgoyne and Leger were having trouble defeating the colonists in upstate New York after quickly marching down the St. Lawrence and Mohawk. Benedict Arnold closed of the Mohawk Valley from Leger's forces, while Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga. Gates awaiting them at Saratoga surrounded his army of nearly 5,000 and forced Burgoyne to surrender. The Battle of Saratoga signaled the turning point because it proved to the World that the Americans could win the war. The French finally agreed to an alliance with the United States after Saratoga and a trip to France by Benjamin Franklin and added their army and much need navy to the war. The British failure to win the war during the second phase of the war despite having the clear advantage was in large part because of Howe's mistakes and losing to the colonist at Saratoga.








The War- The final phase: The south The Southern Campaign was much different than the earlier campaigns because the British decided to use less force and try to unite the large faction of Loyalists in the South because of swaying support at home and the American alliance with France. The new strategy was a dismal failure because the British forces would spend the next three years (1778-1781) moving through the South, fighting battles, but all such efforts usually ended in frustration. The British tried to sway slaves to their side by offering emancipation, but this turned the large Loyalist population against them (the support for independence increased and the British hope for crushing the revolt grew smaller). In the North, Washington and Howe's replacement Sir Henry Clinton settled into a stalemate, while George Rogers Clark raided and captured settlements of Natives with allegiance to the British in the Northwest under orders from Virginia. Benedict Arnold betrayed the Patriots and lead a raid against the US at West Point, but failed, so he spent the rest of the war in British camp. The British did have some success in the South: They captured Savannah late in 1778, the Port of Charleston in mid 1780, and moved inward to take Camden, South Carolina later in 1780. Horatio Gates was replaced by Nathanael Greene in the South and the tide turned against Cornwallis, the British General during the final phase.

The Battle of Yorktown
Washinton and the French surround Cornwallis and force him to surrendonr, ending the war!!
Washinton and the French surround Cornwallis and force him to surrendonr, ending the war!!
Greene forced Cornwallis back to the coast and to abandon their Carolina campaign. Cornwallis withdrew to the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina, and then decided to launch raids northward into Virginia. Awaiting supplies and Clinton's troops from New York, he decided to retreat to Yorktown. George Washington and the French Navy and Army trapped Cornwallis at Yorktown and forced him to surrender. The joint operations were perfectly timed and executed because the French Navy blocked off the sea as the armies enclosed on them. Cornwallis decided to surrender on October 17, 1781, ending the war. Only a few skirmishes occurred afterward, but the war was formally over.





Sources
American History: Alan Brinkley
AMSCO
Wikipedia
United States History
Revolutionary War