The American Revolutionary War Essay

            For a number of years preceding 1775 conflicts between the colonists in America the people in the mainland of England, which made the eventual, war nearly unavoidable.  On April 14, 1775 General Gage, who was the governor of Massachusetts, was ordered by the British government to control rebellion from the colonists.  He then on April 18 ordered seven hundred British soldiers to destroy the colonist’s weapons depot.[1]  Paul Revere and William Dawes, in what became the famous midnight ride, rode ahead of the soldiers warning the colonists of the impending invasion.[2]

            The next morning, April 19, 1775, at dawn seventy militiamen met the British soldiers in a standoff.  A sudden unordered shot rang out, which became known as “the shot heard around the world”, and began the war.[3]  The British soldiers returned fire and the end result was eight dead colonists and ten more wounded.  The British soldiers went on to destroy the colonist’s weapons depot and supplies.  After leaving there they had a long trip back to Boston, along the way they were periodically attacked by American colonists.  By the time the soldiers had reached Boston, they had suffered a loss of over two hundred and fifty men.[4]

            On April 23, 1775 13,600 were ordered to mobilize and volunteers came from all over the American colonies to set up camp around Boston.  On May 10 Cam Ticonderoga was captured and General George Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

            The Battle of Bunker Hill, which became the first real battle of the Revolutionary War, took place on June 17, 1775.[5]  During the battle more than 1000 of the 2000 British soldiers were lost, but in the end the Americans ran out of ammunition allowing the British to ultimately win the battle.  The Americans suffered four hundred casualties and the loss of General Joseph Warren.

            In July of 1775 the Americans presented a petition to the King of England in an attempt to rebuild relations with the mainland.  The King however refused to look at the petition and issued a proclamation declaring the colonists as being in a state of rebellion.  In return the Americans issued a counter proclamation to fight claiming they would “rather die free than live as slaves” [6]

            In December of 1775 the King issued a proclamation closing off all trade with the colonies, but the same month word comes through that the colonies could possibly get help from France.  The help from France finally came in May of 1776 and Spain joined in.  With financial assistance from the two countries, the Americans had renewed hope. [7]

            In June and July of 1776 the war became very intensive.  American forces defended South Carolina Fort Moultrie from a British Naval attack and caused severe damage to the British fleet.  The British brought thirty battleships, 1200 cannons, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships into New York Harbor to fight the Americans.[8]

            Richard Henry Lee Proposed on June 7 that the Americans should develop a declaration of independence from England, and a committee was chosen to develop a draft of it.  Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft and revisions were suggested by other members of the committee.  On July 4, 1776 representatives from twelve of the thirteen colonies (all but New York) voted to support the declaration, which was later signed on August 2.[9]

            Although the Declaration of Independence was signed, the war was far from over.  In August General Washington’s army was severely defeated and received devastating casualties in the Battle of Long Island.  The Americans at this point were facing the possibility of surrender, but they managed to escape during the night.  During the month of September of that year, Washington changed his strategy and attempted to avoid major battles with the British.  A proposed peace treaty was rejected as it would have required the Americans to destroy the Declaration of Independence.  Nathan Hale was caught spying on British soldiers and was executed.

            The Battle of Valcour Bay cost the American navy severely as their 83 ship fleet was completely destroyed.  This battle was followed shortly by the Battle of White Plains in which the American Army again suffered a large number of casualties.[10]  The American losses continued in battles at Fort Washington and Fort Lee, in which the American army lost 3000 men and many supplies. [11]  After a loss to the British at the Navel base at Newport, Rhode Island, Washington and his troops retreated across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

            It was beginning to look as if America would not win the war for independence, but on Christmas of 1776, General Washington took 2400 of his men back across the Delaware for a surprise attack on the British and recaptures Trenton, New Jersey[12].  This win provided some hope for the struggling Americans.

            Washington’s troops had another major win and then settled for the winter to wait for more spring recruits.  After a spring and summer filled with a few victories and more defeats, the British took occupancy in Philadelphia and forced the movement of the Continental congress. [13]

            In October of 1777, the American army had a major victory at the Battle of Saratoga.  Soon after the victory a British army of 5,700 men surrendered to the American army and were sent back to England after agreeing to never take up arms against the American army again[14]  France became a major alli and weapons supplier for the American Army.

            In March of 1778 England again proposed peace treaties, but refused to recognize the American independence.  Congress rejected the treaty because they wanted independence.  After the treaty was rejected, the British soldiers began a reign of terror on the American settlers for most of the rest of 1779.

                        The worst American defeat occurred in May of 1780 with the British capture of Charleston and a 5400 man army. [15]  Benedict Arnold was discovered to be a traitor in 1780 and was forced to flee to a British ship, where he later returned to fight against the Americans.

            In October of 1781 the British army is forced to surrender at Yorktown and following that the end of the war was in sight.  By January of 1782, large numbers of British soldiers and supporters started to retreat from America.

            In February of that year, the House of Commons voted to end the war in America and in March the King was given permission to negotiate peace with America.[16]

            The last fight between the British and the Americans happened on August 27, 1782 in South Carolina.[17]  In April of 1873 Congress officially declared the end of the war.  On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed by both the United States and Great Britain. [18]

            The war ended with the last of the British troops leaving America, and allowing the newly formed country to develop its own government.  Later America became the United States of America and George Washington became the first president.  England and the United states eventually restored positive relations.


“The History Place, American Revolution” (1998).

Retrieved September 15, 2008 from: The History Place – An Unlikely Victory 1777-1783

[1] The History Place (1998)
[2] American (2006)
[3] The History Place (1998)

[4] The History Place (1998)

[5] The History Place (1998)

[6] The History Place (1998)

[7] The History Place (1998)

[8] The History Place (1998)

[9] The History Place (1998)

[10] The History Place (1998)

[11]The History Place (1998)

[12] The History Place (1998)
[13] The History Place (1998)
[14] The History Place (1998)

[15] The History Place (1998)

[16] The History Place (1998)

[17] The History Place (1998)

[18] The History Place (1998)