The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) was a war fought between Britain and its American colonies. It began after years of what the colonies felt was mistreatment, overtaxation, and political exclusion by the British government (there were many causes of war). The colonies would declare their independence in 1776, as the United States of America, and formally win the war in 1783.
Leadership: King George III
Allies: American Loyalists, Native Americans, and Prussian mercenaries (soldiers hired for war)
Army (totals throughout 8 years of war): 149,000 (America) – 56,000 British Men, 30,000 Germans, 50,000 Loyalists, 13,000 Native Americans
Navy: 171,000 Sailors, 78 ships
Leadership: Continental Congress (group made up of representatives from each colony). Founding Fathers: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton (group of individuals that contributed in numerous and significant ways to the war and creation of the United States)
Allies: France, Spain, and Native Americans
Army (totals throughout 8 years of war): 93,500 (America), 60,000 (Europe) -35,000 Continental Men, 44,500 Militia Men, 12,000 French (America), 2,000 Spanish (America) 60,000 French and Spanish (Europe)
Navy: 5,000 Sailors, 53 Ships
In order to maintain what they thought was control over a colony (Britain had many around the world at the time), and raise enough money to help pay for their ongoing wars around the world, Britain passed many laws to control the commerce and lives of the American colonies, while also taxing them heavily to raise funds. This created tensions between the colonies and Britain. Despite colonial protests, Britain only tightened restrictions.
Of the colonial population, about 30% were loyal to Britain, 30% neutral in their position, and 40% looking for significant changes. Even then, independence was seen as a last resort with other options for reconciliation with Britain sought first despite many causes for war. In Continental Congress, early voting to proceed towards independence only won favor by a few votes, as the selected representatives were themselves near balanced on reconciliation versus independence. Benjamin Franklin for many years also considered himself a loyal Britain and sought to avoid war. However, when reasonable peace negotiations failed and Britain began quartering soldiers in colonial towns, a decision towards independence became an inevitable conclusion.
Physical altercations and political fighting between colonists and the British were escalating and the first large military event occurred at Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775. The war was on and colonial freedom was at stake.
Causes: (43+ years) – 06/01/1732 – 04/181775 – From about 1732 when the Hat Act was passed (limiting the manufacture, sale, and export of American made hats) though the first major battles at Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775, tensions in the colonies rose response to continued mistreatment by the British government, ultimately resulting in war.
04/19/1775 – Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts
09/17/1775 – American Siege of Fort St. Jean in Quebec in Canada, Invasion of Canada begins
07/02/1776 – British Forces land at Staten Island, New York and the New York Military Campaign begins
12/14/1776 – Ambush of Geary in New Jersey, the New Jersey Campaign Begins
07/02/1777 – British Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, the Saratoga Campaign begins
10/07/1777 – British Forces at Saratoga Surrender. This major American victory is a display of American strength and potential, and will lead to France officially becoming an ally
09/11/1777 – Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Campaign begins
06/28/1778 – Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey – The Continental Army intercepted the British Army retreating from Philadelphia to join up with a larger force in New York City. Although the British were able to fend off the Continental Army and continue their retreat, this was the last major battle of the Revolution fought in the northern states.
09/16/1779 – British Siege of Savannah, Georgia. This begins the British move into the southern states
10/19/1781 – British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia. This was a major American victory, and would in hindsight essentially reflect the end of fighting and an American victory in the Revolution. Over the next two years there would be smaller skirmishes and conflicts with native americans, but mostly consist of allied fighting around the globe between Britain, France, and Spain.
09/03/1783 – The Treaty of Paris is signed, officially ending the American Revolution
11/25/1783 – Evacuation Day in New York City – The last of the British troops leave America from New York City
The American Revolutionary war was primarily fought on the eastern coast of North America. Fighting occurred in many of the colonies, Canada, Florida, and some of the midwestern territories. Allied fighting also took places around the world, with France and Spain engaging Britain in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.
The American colonies felt they were being mistreated by the British government. They were being taxed without direct political representation in Britain’s government (Parliament), leading to the often-referred phrase “taxation without representation”. The heavy taxes were in part to raise funds for the several wars Britain was engaged in at the time.
Britain also passed many laws, or Acts, which aimed to control the colonies’ financial growth and independence. Without much military support in the new country from Britain for defense in America, no one to properly represent them in Parliament, Britain limiting colonial growth via laws, and Britain excessively taxing the colonies, the colonists felt Britain was taking most everything to Britain without giving much in return.
Over time this led to rumblings of unrest, which were only met with more laws and stricter controls from Britain. This British reaction only made the issues larger and more in number. Despite significant reluctance originally, an American cause for separation from Britain and independence as a nation became inevitable, and large-scale fighting broke out in 1775. After some major strategic military victories, France officially became an ally of the Americans in 1778, and Spain joined in 1779 (mostly as an ally of France, and hence would support the American war as needed). With France as an open ally (instead of a silent provider of supplies as had been the case from early in the war), the newly formed United States was in a position to fight to win. They did, and on September 3rd, 1783, a peace treaty was signed with Britain, formally ending the American Revolutionary war. The Unites States was then a free, independent country at peace.