American Revolutionary War
|American Revolutionary War|
Clockwise: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis after the Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Trenton, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Long Island, Battle of Guilford Court House
|Commanders and leaders|
Lord George Germain
|Casualties and losses|
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a global war that began as a conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen American colonies, which declared independence as the United States of America.[N 1]
After the Seven Years' War, growing philosophical and political differences exacerbated the strained relationship between Britain and its colonies. Following the Stamp Act, Patriot protests against taxation without representation escalated into boycotts, which culminated in the Sons of Liberty destroying a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor. Britain responded by closing Boston Harbor and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts colony. Massachusetts colonists responded with the Suffolk Resolves and established a shadow government which wrested control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that effectively seized power.
British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in April 1775 led to open combat. Militia forces then besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776. Concurrently, an American attempt to invade Quebec and raise rebellion against the British decisively failed. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4. Sir William Howe launched a British counter-offensive, capturing New York City and leaving American morale at a low ebb. However, victories at Trenton and Princeton restored American confidence. In 1777, the British launched an offensive from Quebec under John Burgoyne, intending to isolate New England. Instead of assisting this effort, Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, and Burgoyne was decisively defeated at Saratoga in October 1777.
The British defeat at Saratoga had drastic consequences; France formally allied with the Americans and entered the war in 1778, and Spain joined the war the following year as an ally of France. In 1780, Mysore attacked the British in India, and tensions between Britain and the Netherlands erupted into open war. In North America, the British mounted a "Southern strategy" led by Charles Cornwallis. However, the strategy hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, and too few came forward. Cornwallis retreated to Yorktown, Virginia after suffering reversals at King's Mountain and Cowpens. He was intending an evacuation, but a decisive French naval victory deprived him of an escape. A Franco-American army led by the Comte de Rochambeau and George Washington then besieged Cornwallis' army. With no sign of relief, Cornwallis surrendered.
Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tories in Parliament, and the surrender gave the former the upper hand. In early 1782, Parliament voted to end all offensive operations in North America, but the war continued in Europe and India. Britain remained under siege in Gibraltar, but scored a major success against the French navy. On September 3, 1783, the belligerent parties signed the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the war, in which Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States. Although French involvement had proved decisive, France made few gains and incurred crippling debts. Spain made some minor territorial gains but failed in its primary aim of recovering Gibraltar. The Dutch were defeated on all counts and were compelled to cede territory to Britain. In India, the war against Mysore and its allies concluded in 1784 without any territorial changes.
- 1 Causes
- 2 Outbreak of open war
- 3 Declaration of Independence
- 4 British counter-offensive
- 5 Foreign intervention
- 6 Second phase, 1778–1781
- 7 Naval war
- 8 Britain vs. France, Spain, Mysore, and Holland 1778–1783
- 9 Treaty of Paris
- 10 Analysis of combatants
- 11 Costs of the War
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Further reading
- 15 Reference literature
- 16 External links
As early as 1651, the English government sought to regulate trade in the American colonies. On October 9, the Navigation Acts were passed to ensure trade only enriched Britain, barring trade with other nations. While some argue the economic impact on the colonists was minimal, the political friction triggered was more serious. The conclusion of King Philip's War in 1678, much of which was fought without significant assistance from England, contributed to the development of a unique identity, separate from that of Britain. In the 1680s, King Charles II determined to bring New England under a more centralized administration to regulate trade more effectively. His efforts were fiercely opposed by the colonists, resulting in the abrogation of their colonial charter by the Crown. James II finalized these efforts in 1686, establishing the Dominion of New England. Seen to be curtailing local democracy, Dominion authority proved extremely unpopular, resulting in a populist revolt on April 18, 1689 which overthrew Dominion rule. Colonial governments later reasserted their authority, and no further attempts were made by the English government to restore the Dominion.
The English, and later British, government continued in its efforts to tax certain goods; passing acts regulating the trade of wool, hats, and molasses. The taxes severely damaged the New England economy, and, as a result, the taxes were rarely paid, resulting in a surge of smuggling, bribery and intimidation of customs officials. Colonial wars fought in America were often the source of considerable tension. Following the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748, the British agreed to cede the captured fortress of Louisbourg back to France. New England colonists resented the loss of life, effort and expenditure involved in subduing the fortress, only to have it returned to their erstwhile enemy.
The close of the Seven Years' War in 1763 saw Britain triumphant over France, but heavily in debt; the national debt had doubled to £130 million, and the annual cost of the establishment in America had increased five-fold compared to 1749. Smuggling, which had been tacitly accepted in the colonies had dramatically blunted revenue, resulting in London deciding to take a more vigorous approach to clamp down on avoidance of customs duties. On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, directly taxing the colonists for the first time. The tax was strongly condemned; colonists argued their rights as Englishmen meant that there could be "no taxation without representation"—that is, direct taxes could not be imposed upon them by a Parliament they had no representatives in. Parliament argued that the colonies were "represented virtually", an idea that was criticised on both sides of the Atlantic. Civil resistance and boycotts resulted in Parliament repealing the act on March 18, 1766. However, Parliament also passed legislation affirming its right to pass laws that were binding upon the colonies.
In 1767, Parliament began passing the "Townshend Acts", the purpose of which was to impose duties on various British goods, raising revenue to pay the salaries of judges and governors, thereby ensuring their loyalty to the Crown. A further implication was in establishing the precedent of Parliamentary sovereignty. Opposition to the programme soon became widespread among the colonists. To collect the duties, Parliament formed a Customs board seated in Boston. Enforcing the acts proved difficult; on June 10, 1768, the seizure of the sloop Liberty on suspicions of smuggling triggered a riot. In response, 4,000 British regulars were sent to enforce order. Furthermore, Parliament threatened to extradite locals for trial in England, alarming the colonists. Tensions rose after the killing of a Bostonian teen by a customs official on February 22, 1770, and later escalated into outrage after panicked British troops opened fire on a mob on March 5.
Meanwhile, resistance against customs officials continued to escalate; on June 9, 1772, a group of colonists boarded a grounded customs schooner, looted and then burnt the ship. On April 12, Parliament agreed to repeal all taxes, except the one on tea. It passed the Tea Act in 1773, allowing the East India Company to ship tea directly to the colonies. The intention was to undercut smuggling, and convince the colonists to buy Company tea, on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to Parliament's right to direct taxation. The landing of the tea was resisted in all colonies. The governor of Massachusetts refused to send back the tea ships in Boston Harbor, so, on December 16, 1773, the Patriot group Sons of Liberty destroyed the tea chests.
The Intolerable Acts
No one was tried for the destruction of the tea, which amounted to 342 chests, valued at £9,000 (approx. £1.03 million in today's money [~$1.7 million US]). Parliament then passed a series of acts designed to punish Massachusetts. Parliament closed Boston Harbor until the destroyed tea was paid for, and then abrogated the colonial charter, bringing the colony under direct Crown rule. The colony's executive council was to be appointed directly by the Crown, as was already the case in New York and Virginia. Additionally, the royal governor was authorized to appoint civil offices directly, and town meetings were forbidden without the governor's permission, undercutting local democratic authority.
Parliament passed a measure allowing the governor to extradite officials accused of wrongdoing for trial elsewhere in the Empire, if he believed a fair trial could not be secured in the colony. A provision of reimbursement for travel expenses was included, however, it was not stated whether it would cover lost earnings, leaving few with the ability to afford to testify. Patriots dubbed this legislation the "Murder Act", as they believed it allowed British officials to harass colonists and escape justice. A new Quartering Act was then passed, allowing a governor to billet troops in private property without the owner's permission. Ammerman contests this, stating that the act only permitted soldiers to be quartered in unoccupied buildings.
These acts were collectively dubbed by Patriots as the "Intolerable Acts". They argued the acts violated their constitutional and natural rights, and their colonial charters. They were therefore viewed as a threat to the liberties of all of America, and not just for Massachusetts. Far from pacifying the colony, the acts garnered widespread condemnation, driving neutral parties into open support of the Patriots and hamstringing loyalist sentiment.
Leaders of Suffolk County issued a declaration on September 9, 1774, in protest, calling for a boycott on British goods, and refused obedience to the Intolerable Acts until they were repealed. In October, an illegal "provincial congress" was established, wresting control of the colony outside of Boston from the Crown. Fearing reprisals, the Massachusetts militia began drilling. Meanwhile, representatives of twelve colonies had convened a Congress on September 5 to respond to the crisis. Congress rejected a proposal to establish an American Parliament, and instead passed a compact among the colonies, declaring a trade boycott against Britain. Congress affirmed Parliament had no authority over internal matters in America, but that they would "cheerfully consent" to trade regulations for the benefit of the empire. As Congress lacked any overriding authority over individual colonies, it authorized the creation of committees and conventions to enforce the boycott. The boycott was highly effective; imports from Britain dropped by 97% in 1775, compared to the previous year.
Parliament, meanwhile, refused to back down; on February 9, 1775, it declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion, and enforced a trade blockade of the entire colony. Parliament then passed the Restraining Acts, limiting New England's trade solely to the West Indies colonies and the British mainland. Moreover, colonial ships were barred from fishing off Newfoundland, a measure which pleased Canadiens, but threatened to adversely damage New England's economy. The growing resistance to the legislative measures triggered a mutual scramble for munitions, pushing the Patriots to the brink of open war.
Outbreak of open war
Initial hostilities (1775–1776)
Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage was the British Commander-in-Chief of the North American station, and military governor of Massachusetts at the outbreak of war. Gage commanded four regiments of British regulars, approximately 4,000 men, from his headquarters in Boston. The countryside, however, was largely hostile to British authority. On April 14, 1775, Gage received orders from London to take decisive action against the Patriots.
On the night of April 18, 1775, Gage sent 700 troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Smith to confiscate munitions stored by the colonial militia at Concord. Paul Revere, among others, rode to the settlements to alert the colonists. On the morning of April 19, 400 British troops entered Lexington, to find 77 militia drawn up on the village green. Shots were exchanged in which eighteen colonists were hit, and the militia dispersed. The British moved on to Concord, where a force of 400 militia routed three companies of troops at North Bridge. As the British retreated to Boston, thousands of militia harried them along the roads. Only the timely arrival of 1,000 reinforcements under Brigadier General Hugh Percy prevented a total disaster. With the outbreak of open combat, war between Britain and her colonies had begun.
Overnight, the Massachusetts militia, nominally led by William Heath and Artemas Ward, converged on Boston, laying siege to the city. In the days immediately following, militia units from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut arrived. The militia recovered over 180 pieces of artillery in raids on Ticonderoga and Crown Point for use in the siege. On May 25, 4,500 British reinforcements arrived in the city with three more senior officers; Major General William Howe, and Brigadiers John Burgoyne and Henry Clinton. In an attempt to pacify the rebellion, Gage issued a proclamation on June 12 to pardon all those who would lay down their arms. However, it only inflamed the Patriots, and more flocked to their cause.
On June 17, British forces seized the Charlestown peninsula from the Americans after a costly assault. With over 1,000 casualties and the siege still unbroken, Gage was replaced by Howe as Commander-in-Chief. Many senior British officers wrote of their dismay at the attack, which had gained them little. Gage himself wrote to the Secretary of War in London:
- "These people show a spirit and conduct against us they never showed against the French....They are now spirited up by a rage and enthusiasm as great as ever people were possessed of and you must proceed in earnest or give the business up. A small body acting in one spot will not avail, you must have large armies making diversions on different sides, to divide their force. The loss we have sustained is greater than we can bear. Small armies cannot afford such losses, especially when the advantage gained tends to do little more than the gaining of a post".
On July 3, George Washington took command of the nascent Continental Army, and began moulding it into something more closely resembling an army. The siege was reduced to a stalemate, which continued throughout the winter. Washington was surprised that Howe made no effort to attack. On September 11, approximately 1,100 troops under the command of Major General Benedict Arnold departed from the army to invade Quebec. Washington then made the case to assault Boston, however the plan was unanimously rejected. In early March, 1776, Colonel Henry Knox brought some heavy cannon that the Patriots had captured at Ticonderoga to the siege lines. They placed the guns on Dorchester Heights on March 4; the British fleet in the harbor was now within range of the guns, making Howe's situation untenable. The British elected to withdraw from the city. A letter sent to Washington stated that the British would burn the city if their withdrawal was impeded. On March 17, 1776, the British forces evacuated Boston unmolested, sailing to their naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Following the siege, Washington moved the bulk of the army to fortify New York.
Invasion of Quebec
Following the capture of Ticonderoga, the American troops raided St. John's, not far from Montréal, which alarmed the British authorities. Guy Johnson, a Loyalist living in New York, secured the promises of Iroquois and Huron chiefs to support the British by harrying the Americans. Quebec's governor, Guy Carleton, began similar negotiations with other Iroquois and Indian tribes for their support. The Americans, meanwhile, lobbied the Indians to remain neutral, a measure which was largely successful. British attempts to muster Indian support, and the fear of a British attack from the north, persuaded Congress, on June 27, 1775, to authorize an invasion of Quebec. Quebec, with a largely Francophone population, had only been under British rule for twelve years, and the Americans expected that liberating them from the British would be welcomed.
On September 11, 1775, Major General Benedict Arnold marched from Boston with 1,100 troops to invade Quebec. On September 28, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery marched north from Ticonderoga, with approximately 1,700 militia. Greeted as a liberator, he captured Fort St. Jean on November 2, and then took Montréal on November 13 without any significant resistance. Carleton, disguised as a commoner, escaped to Quebec City and began organising a defence. Arnold's expedition was hamstrung by the wilderness and poor weather; 300 men turned back, while a further 200 died in the harsh conditions. By the time Arnold reached Quebec City in early November, he had but 600 men left. Arnold opted to wait for Montgomery before launching any attack.
On New Years' Eve, the Americans launched an attack on Quebec City. The attack was a disaster; Montgomery was killed, Arnold wounded, and over 400 Americans taken prisoner. Although the remaining Americans held on outside in a loose siege, the British had decisively defeated the invasion. Suffering from poor conditions and smallpox, the Americans withdrew on May 6 back to Ticonderoga, after the arrival of a squadron of British warships and troops under Captain Charles Douglas. On May 22, Carleton sailed to Trois-Rivières with reinforcements. Misled about the size of the British force, and ignorant of the area, the Americans launched a failed attack on June 8, 1776. The defeat effectively spelled the end of American offensive operations in Quebec. The American force then retreated to Crown Point.
Arnold had managed to establish a small navy to patrol Lake Champlain, covering the American retreat. Arnold had either destroyed or taken all boats along his line of retreat, forcing the British to start from scratch. Carleton was finally ready to move on October 7. On October 11, Carleton's fleet attacked Arnold's squadron, inflicting heavy damage and forcing him to withdraw. The Americans withdrew back to Ticonderoga, while Carleton withdrew to Quebec, ending the campaign. While the invasion had been defeated, Arnold's efforts in the retreat had successfully delayed a British counter-offensive until the following year. The invasion cost the Patriots their support in British public opinion; "So that the violent measures towards America are freely adopted and countenanced by a majority of individuals of all ranks, professions, or occupations, in this country". Support for the Patriots in Quebec had been diluted when they pursued aggressive policies against suspected Loyalists. Nevertheless, two small regiments of Canadiens were raised, and they fought with the Americans until the end of the war. Despite the defeat, the Patriots continued to view Quebec as an aim for their cause, although no further attempts on the province were made.
In early 1775, Virginian colonists began to seize munitions and drill for war. Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, had advised the local governors to secure military supplies, and to prevent the importation of further supplies of powder. Lord Dunmore, the Royal governor of Virginia, noted the rising tensions and sought to remove supplies from the colonists. On April 19, 1775, Dunmore discreetly ferried a company of British sailors into Williamsburg, and ordered them to remove the magazine there. The following day, the sailors removed the powder stores from the town, however, the local militia rallied to the scene. Dunmore was able to successfully disarm the crowd, averting any fighting.
After news of open war arrived in the south, Dunmore issued a proclamation on November 7, 1775, declaring martial law, and promising freedom for slaves who abandoned their masters to fight for the Crown. On November 15, Dunmore's militia skirmished with Patriots, after investigating reports that militiamen were organizing against him. Dunmore recruited additional troops and gathered supplies to suppress resistance to Royal authority. In response to Dunmore's Proclamation, Virginia's assembly ordered the militia to march on Norfolk. These militia forces engaged and overwhelmed a force loyal to Dunmore at Great Bridge. Dunmore withdrew his troops to Royal Navy ships anchored off Norfolk. After a series of escalations with the Patriots, Dunmore ordered the ships to bombard and destroy the town.
In South Carolina, the population was heavily divided along political grounds when the war broke out. English residents, populating the larger coastal settlements, centred on Charleston, were strongly in favour of the rebellion, while large numbers of back country residents, primarily German and Scottish immigrants, were opposed. By August, 1775, both sides were equipping their own militias for war. On September 15, Patriot militia seized Fort Johnson, Charleston's primary fortification, leading the governor, William Campbell, to flee, leaving the city in Patriot hands. Tensions escalated when Loyalists seized Patriot supplies in November, intended for the Cherokee. Major Andrew Williamson, intending to recover the supplies, clashed inconclusively with Loyalists troops on November 19. The Patriots grew rapidly in support, and were able to drive out most of the Loyalists in the area by the end of the year.
In order to reassert colonial authority over the South, the British required a defensible port as a staging area. To achieve this, the British set about organizing an expedition, and began recruiting local support. Josiah Martin, the governor of North Carolina, began recruiting local Loyalists to oppose Patriot sympathies in the area. Scotsman Allan Maclean successfully petitioned King George III to recruit Scottish settlers throughout North America. Meanwhile, the British planned a foray into the South with a force of approximately 2,000 men, which was due to make landfall in February, 1776. The expedition's departure was delayed, and the gathered Loyalist forces were defeated by North Carolina Patriots. The defeat cemented Patriot control of North Carolina, and discouraged further Loyalist sentiment. The British expedition, under the command of Brigadier General Henry Clinton, and Admiral Peter Parker, did not arrive off Cape Fear until May. Conditions there were deemed unacceptable for the fleet, and Charleston was deemed a more viable target. On June 28, 1776, Clinton and Parker decided to attack. An entire day of naval bombardment inflicted only minimal damage to the Patriot defences. Clinton called an end to the expedition, leaving the South in Patriot control until 1780.
Following the outbreak of hostilities, the ordinance which Lord Dunmore, the Royal governor of Virginia, had confiscated were transferred to the Bahamas Colony. Montfort Browne, the governor of the Bahamas, expressed concern to Thomas Gage that the rebel colonists may attempt to seize the supplies. The desperate shortage of powder compelled Congress to authorise a naval expedition to secure the supplies. Esek Hopkins was given command of the expedition; two frigates and six sloops, carrying 200 marines. Hopkin's squadron set sail from Cape Henlopen on February 17, 1776. On March 3, after a bloodless exchange of fire, the marines successfully landed, and the local militia offered no resistance. Although the majority of the powder had been removed from the island by the British, for the next fortnight, the Americans confiscated all the munitions they could load, and sailed away on March 17. After a brief skirmish with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Glasgow on April 6, the squadron reached New London on April 8.
Reaction in Britain
Even with the outbreak of hostilities, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition on July 5, 1775, in a final attempt to avert war with Britain. However, it was followed up the next day with the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, resulting in accusations of insincerity in London. By the time it was received in London, the invasion of Quebec was well underway, and Parliament rejected the petition by 53 votes. After news of the Battle of Bunker Hill arrived in London, King George III issued a Proclamation of Rebellion on August 23, 1775, hardening the British stance against the colonies. The proclamation led to an emboldening of weak support for the rebellion, especially in the southern colonies, in favor of independence. The King addressed Parliament on October 26, 1775, where he denounced "the authors and promoters of this desperate conspiracy", who had "labored to inflame my people in America ... and to infuse into their minds a system of opinions repugnant to the true constitution of the Colonies, and to their subordinate relationship to Great Britain ..." Both the Houses of Parliament endorsed the King's speech; a motion in the House of Commons to oppose coercive measures on the colonies was defeated 278–108.
The initial hostilities proved to be a sobering lesson for the British military. Heavy losses incurred in battles such as Bunker Hill, and the subsequent Fortification of Dorchester Heights, caused the British to completely rethink their views on colonial military capability. The weak British response to the rebellion in 1775 and 1776 gave the Patriots the strategic advantage; the British lost control over every colony. Senior figures such as Thomas Gage repeated earlier warnings that pacification of the colonies would require hiring foreign troops. The British Army in peacetime had been deliberately kept small since the Glorious Revolution to prevent abuses of power by the King. To muster an army for service in America, recruiting drives were launched, while Parliament entered treaties with small German states in exchange for additional troops. After a year, the British were able to ship an army of 32,000 men for campaigning in America; the largest it had ever sent outside of Europe at the time.
Meanwhile, Parliament voted to impose a blockade against the Thirteen Colonies. Strategic operations were overseen by Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for the Colonies from November 1775 to 1782. Germain reported directly to Prime Minister Lord North. Lord Sandwich held the post of First Lord of the Admiralty, head of the Royal Navy, while Sir Jeffrey Amherst served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, the nominal head of the British Army. The King himself took great control in micromanaging the war effort, despite opposition from his advisers.[vague] Separately, the Irish Parliament pledged its loyalty to Britain, and agreed to withdraw troops to fight in America. Irish Protestants tended to favor the American cause, while the Catholic establishment supported the King. The American Revolution was the first conflict in which Irish Catholics were allowed to enlist in the army.
Declaration of Independence
Even following the outbreak of war, King George III and Prime Minister Lord North refused to concede ground on the issue of Parliamentary supremacy. Whigs in Parliament argued that Tory policy would drive the colonists towards secession. Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense had been published in January 1776, which argued for independence and republicanism, instead of their current ties to a monarchy. The pamphlet was immensely popular, and public support for independence burgeoned in its wake.
As calls for independence grew, Congress began waging an intricate political battle in order to obtain the proper legal authorisation to declare secession. On May 15, Congress drafted a preamble, written by John Adams. Adams' preamble argued that, as the King had explicitly rejected reconciliation, and had even hired foreign troops to suppress rebellion, the colonies owed him no allegiance. On the same day, the Virginia Convention proposed that a "respectable body" declare the colonies as independent states from Great Britain. While political manoeuvring continued in order to secure support, Congress commissioned Thomas Jefferson to draft a declaration of independence. Congress then edited Jefferson's document, improving structure and removing unnecessary wording.
On July 1, having tabled a draft, Congress, organized into a Committee of the Whole, resumed debate on independence. Pennsylvania attempted to delay until foreign alliances had been secured, and Congress had finalized the Articles of Confederation. After the debate, the committee voted: Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against, New York abstained, lacking authorisation, and Delaware cast no vote due to conflicting delegates. The remaining nine voted in favor. On July 2, South Carolina reversed its position and voted in favor, as did Pennsylvania. The arrival of a third Delaware delegate broke the deadlock, and Delaware voted in favor. New York, again, abstained, although it voted a week later after gaining authorisation. Congress adopted the resolution with twelve affirmatives and one abstention, officially declaring secession from Great Britain. On July 4, the announcement of the act was finalized.
While preparing for an attack on New York, Washington read the declaration to his men and the citizens of the city on July 9. An invigorated crowd tore down a statue of King George, and melted the lead to make bullets. In Britain, Tories denounced the signatories of the declaration for not applying the same standards of egalitarianism to African Americans. The declaration was followed by the Test Laws, which required all colonists to swear an oath of allegiance to the state in which they resided. The oath was intended to identify neutral parties or opponents to independence. A record of those who took the oath was kept, and certificates issued to grant immunity from arrest. Failure to take the oath meant possible imprisonment, denial of civil liberties, banishment, and, in some cases, death. Loyalists were barred from public office, and forced to pay increased taxes. Loyalists with professions, such as practising medicine or law, were denied the right to do so. They were barred from acting as executors of wills, or to become a guardian to an orphaned child. If Loyalists were owed money, they had no legal recourse.
The early measures were followed by more repressive actions. By November 1777, the treasury of Congress had been depleted. In order to provide funds for the war, Congress instructed states to pass Confiscation Acts, which enabled them to appropriate property belonging to Loyalists. Tories were offered a choice of either swearing loyalty to the revolutionaries, or face exile. The alternative was to forfeit the right to protection, offered by the revolutionary government. Quakers who refused allegiance to either side had their property confiscated. Later, states passed the Citation Acts, preventing Loyalists from collecting any debts they were owed.
New York and New Jersey (1776–1777)
Following the Siege of Boston, the British withdrew to Halifax, Nova Scotia. General Washington concurred with his advisers that New York was a place of high strategic value, and had moved his army to fortify the city. After regrouping at Halifax and gathering reinforcements, William Howe determined to undertake a decisive action against the Americans to end the rebellion. In June, 1776, Howe set sail for New York with 9,000 men, before all of his reinforcements had arrived. Other reinforcements, including German troops from Hesse-Kassel, British troops from the aborted Carolinas expedition, and naval forces under the command of Howe's brother, Admiral Lord Howe, were to follow and rendezvous with him at New York.
Howe began landing troops on Staten Island on July 2. Washington, who lacked credible intelligence on the plans of the British, split his army of 19,000 men between defensible positions on Long Island, Manhattan, and other positions around the city. King George III had empowered the Howe brothers to act as peace envoys, however, the King was pessimistic about a peaceful resolution, and the powers granted were minimal in scope. Admiral Howe twice attempted to negotiate with Washington, however, both messengers were turned away. In a meeting held on July 20, Washington stated the rebels had done no wrong requiring amnesty from Parliament, and that the limited powers granted to the Howe brothers were of little use in resolving the grievances of the Americans.
Capture of New York
On August 27, Howe moved 22,000 troops to Long Island and fought Washington's army in the largest battle of the war. Analysis of Howe's movements and disposition indicate that, had he landed on Manhattan, he could have encircled and destroyed Washington's army. The British did outflank the Americans, however, driving them back to Brooklyn Heights. Howe, cautious of aggressive action after Bunker Hill, deliberated in his pursuit. He actively restrained his subordinates from landing the final blow, instead opting to lay siege to the American fortifications. Washington managed to execute a skillful night-time retreat across the East River on the night of August 29-30, without loss of men or materiel. American General John Sullivan, who had been captured during the fighting, agreed to act as a peace envoy for the British. On September 2, he delivered the message to Congress at Philadelphia. Congress sent a delegation to negotiate peace terms, however, the negotiations were unsuccessful.
On September 15, Howe resumed the attack. He landed 12,000 troops on lower Manhattan, quickly seizing control of New York. The American troops withdrew to Harlem Heights, where they successfully held their ground against a British advance the following day. Rather than attempting a costly frontal assault, Howe opted to encircle Washington's army. On October 12, an attempt was made to this end, which failed due to Howe's decision to land upon an island that was easily isolated from the mainland. On October 18, he landed troops against some opposition in Westchester County, however, Washington withdrew the bulk of his army north. On October 28, the pursuing British fought a largely indecisive action against the Americans. During the battle, Howe declined to attack Washington's vulnerable main force, and instead attacked a hill that was of no strategic significance.
Howe's manoeuvring nevertheless isolated the remnants of the American troops in upper Manhattan. On November 16, Howe returned to Manhattan and captured an American army at Fort Washington. The British took 3,000 prisoners and a great deal of materiel, in what amounted to the worst American defeat to date. Four days later, Fort Lee across the Hudson River also fell, compelling Washington to retreat. As Howe consolidated his position, Henry Clinton and Hugh Percy captured Newport, Rhode Island, without opposition, on December 8. This move was opposed by Clinton, who believed the 6,000 men assigned to the task could have been better employed in destroying Washington's retreating army. The prisoners taken during the campaign were sent to the infamous "prison ships" in New York Harbor, in which more American soldiers and sailors died of disease and neglect than died in every battle of the war combined.
Charles Cornwallis continued to pursue Washington's army through New Jersey, but Howe ordered him to halt, and Washington escaped into Pennsylvania on December 7. Howe refused to pursue across the river. The outlook of the Continental Army was bleak. "These are the times that try men's souls" wrote Thomas Paine in The American Crisis, such was the despair of the revolutionaries at the time. The army had dwindled to fewer than 5,000 men, and would be reduced to 1,400 upon the expiration of enlistments at the end of the year. Popular support wavered, morale in the army was ebbing away, and Congress had abandoned the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia, fearing a British attack. Washington scraped together whatever troops he could find, including remnants of the failed invasion of Quebec. The disastrous campaign resulted in a surge of Loyalist activity, and New York became a hotbed for pro-British sentiment. Howe and Washington both issued proclamations with the intent on mustering up support for their respective sides.
News of the capture of New York was received well in Britain. In London, festivities took place to commemorate the campaign's success, and the war approached peak popularity among the public. William Howe was awarded the Order of the Bath by the King for his execution of the campaign. Coupled with the failure of the Quebec expedition, the campaign led to projections that the British could win the war within a year. The failure to hold New York revealed Washington's strategic deficiencies; the division of a weaker army in the face of a stronger one, violating a commonly accepted strategic maxim. Cracks were highlighted in Washington's staff, who misread the tactical situation, and deficiencies in his troops, who fled in disorder upon contact with the enemy.
In the meantime, with the campaigning season almost over, the British entered winter quarters. The campaign had left them in control of much of New York and New Jersey, and, with the rebel capital of Philadelphia in striking distance, were in a good place to resume campaigning come spring. Howe had left Henry Clinton in Newport as a base for operations against Boston and Connecticut.
Howe divided his army in New Jersey into small detachments and outposts, which proved vulnerable and easy to defeat in detail. The weakest of these forces were, incidentally, stationed closest to Washington's army. German commanders Carl von Donop and Johann Rall frequently petitioned General James Grant for further assistance, however, their pleas were dismissed. Beginning in mid-December, Washington decided to take the offensive to rescue the army's morale. He planned a two-pronged offensive against garrisons in Trenton, and a diversion against Bordentown. On December 23, von Donop's 2,000-man force was drawn away from Washington after skirmishing with the local militia. On Christmas night, 1776, Washington's army stealthily crossed the Delaware River. On Boxing Day morning, the army surprised and overwhelmed the entirety of Rall's 1,500-man force, and some 900 prisoners were taken. The resounding success rescued the flagging morale of the Continental Army, breathing a new hope into the revolutionary cause.
In response, Cornwallis advanced from New York to retake Trenton. Leaving a garrison of 1,400 men under Charles Mawhood in Princeton, Cornwallis took 5,000 troops and advanced on Trenton. On January 2, Cornwallis engaged Washington, but was repulsed three times. Cornwallis disengaged, intending to continue the battle the following day. That night, Washington outmanoeuvred Cornwallis, advancing around his camp, and attacked Cornwallis' rearguard the following day. Washington's army successfully repulsed the British, who fled to Cornwallis' position in Trenton. The British had lost around a quarter of their force, boosting American morale further. The victories proved instrumental in convincing the French court to support American independence.
Despite the victory, Washington's position was precarious. He pushed for a move to New Brunswick to capture a British pay chest, however, his subordinates successfully counselled him against this. Washington withdrew his army, and, by January 6, he had arrived at Morristown for winter encampment. Cornwallis withdrew to New Brunswick. Howe conceded most of New Jersey to Washington, despite enjoying a huge numerical superiority over him. Provisions for both armies remained quite limited, leading to widespread foraging for supplies. The New Jersey militia harassed British and Hessian foraging parties in a protracted guerrilla conflict near their three remaining posts along the Raritan River. This led to numerous confrontations, such as an action fought near Manville. While in winter quarters, Howe made no attempt to attack Washington's army, much to the latter's amazement.
Isolating New England (1777–1778)
Through 1776, the British realized that New England would be hard to subdue, due to its high concentration of Patriots. If New England could be strategically isolated, the British could concentrate on pacifying the middle and southern colonies, where they had been led to believe Loyalist support was in abundance. To achieve this, the British had two main armies in North America with which to work; Guy Carleton's army in Quebec, and William Howe's army in New York. John Burgoyne had returned to London in December 1776 and met with Lord George Germain, to set strategy for the following year. Burgoyne's plan was to lead an expedition through the Hudson Valley along Lake Champlain, and rendezvous with Howe's army marching from New York at Albany. Subsequent control of the Lake Champlain-Lake George-Hudson River route from New York to Quebec would cut New England off from the rest of the colonies. Burgoyne successfully lobbied for the command of the Saratoga expedition.
On November 30, 1776, Howe wrote to Germain, illustrating his intentions for a campaign against New England and Philadelphia both, providing Germain sent him adequate reinforcements. Howe changed his mind soon after, as the withdrawal of the Americans had left Philadelphia vulnerable, and decided capturing it would be the focus of his efforts. He argued that the chief strength of the rebellion lay in Washington's army, and defeating it was therefore a priority. Howe had sent Germain this plan, which he received on February 23, 1777. In March 1777, Germain approved Howe's plan, however, it called for more troops than he was willing to provide. Consequently, Howe's efforts would leave him unable to assist Burgoyne. Washington himself was confounded by Howe's decision to not go to Burgoyne's aid. Alden argues that the decision was influenced by the notion that, upon a decisive success, Burgoyne would receive credit, and not Howe.
Controversy persists over where Germain approved Burgoyne's plan after reading Howe's, and whether he shared this information with Burgoyne. In Germain's instructions to Howe, he had not included any explicit orders for him to march on Albany. However, a copy of instructions sent by Germain to Carleton explicitly stated Howe was to mount such an undertaking. Another letter from Germain stated Howe should make his campaign plans against Philadelphia, allowing enough time to also march upon Albany. Black argues that Germain either left his generals with too much latitude, or without a clear strategic direction.
The Americans did not have a clear picture of British intentions for 1777. Their primary concern was Howe's army in New York. Burgoyne had complained the populace of Montreal knew of his intentions, yet the Americans remained unawares. As a precaution, General Philip Schuyler sent a regiment to Fort Stanwix in the Mohawk valley to guard against British efforts in that area. American troops were distributed throughout the region for the coming campaign; four regiments were held at Peekskill to reinforce either the north or southern fronts, 1,500 troops were garrisoned along the Mohawk river, 3,000 troops were posted along the Hudson highlands under Israel Putnam, and Schuyler had 4,000 men under his personal command.
The main thrust of the effort to isolate New England was to come from John Burgoyne. Burgoyne's plan had two components; an army of 8,000 men under his command would march along Lake Champlain towards Albany, while a second column of 2,000 men, led by Barry St. Ledger, advanced along the Mohawk River as a strategic diversion. Burgoyne intended for St. Ledger to rendezvous with him at Albany. On June 13, 1777, Burgoyne assumed command of the army assembled at St. John's on the Richelieu River. He commanded approximately 8,000 British regulars, German mercenaries, Indians and Quebecois militia, augmented by 130 guns. Burgoyne set out on June 14. St. Ledeger's expedition left Lachine on June 23.
Burgoyne arrived at Ticonderoga on July 2, garrisoned by 3,000 men under Arthur St. Clair. After a brief skirmish and some manoeuvring, St. Clair abandoned the fort and retreated on July 5. The surrender of the supposedly impregnable fort enraged the American public. Schuyler, in command of the area, was subsequently replaced by Horatio Gates as commander of the Northern Department. Burgoyne sent detachments in pursuit; one faced determined resistance at Hubbardton on July 7, while a vanguard company was almost decimated at Fort Anne the following day. Burgoyne left 400 men to guard the magazine at Crown Point, and another 900 to garrison Ticonderoga. Subsequent progress was painfully slow; the Americans felled trees to block the roads, destroyed bridges and dammed streams to hinder their advance, compounded by Burgoyne's extensive baggage train. Scorched earth tactics were employed to denude the area of provisions for the British.
Meanwhile, St. Ledger left Oswego on July 25 with approximately 1,000 regulars, jägers, Canadiens, Loyalists, and 1,000 Indians, led by Joseph Brandt and Sayenqueraghta. He marched on Fort Stanwix, occupied by a large American force, and laid siege on August 2. 800 Patriot militia and their Native allies marched to relieve the garrison on August 4. This force was ambushed by St. Ledger's troops on August 6 near Oriskany Creek, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. The Americans disengaged, handing victory to St. Ledger. However, the heavy Indian losses, and subsequent looting of their camp by the Americans, damaged their morale, and their relationship with St. Ledger. On August 10, Benedict Arnold departed Stillwater with 800 men to relieve Stanwix. Through deception, St. Ledger was led to believe Arnold had a much larger force. The news led to the abandonment of St. Ledger by his Indian troops. St. Ledger was forced to lift the siege on August 22 and withdrew to Quebec.
Defeat of Burgoyne's army
Burgoyne's issues mounted. A letter from Howe informed him he was leaving for Pennsylvania, instead of marching on Albany. Faced with a supply shortage, on August 9, Burgoyne sent a detachment to Bennington to acquire provisions, draft animals and horses. Unaware that some 2,000 militia were stationed there, this detachment, and the reinforcements sent in support, were soundly defeated on August 16, and more than 700 troops were captured. As a result, Burgoyne's Indian support abandoned him, and he was running short of supplies. Despite this, he determined to push on towards Albany, and he crossed the Hudson River between September 13—15.
On August 19, Horatio Gates arrived at Albany to take command of the American army. Gates anchored the army on the bluffs at Bemis Heights, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Saratoga, and began fortifying the position. On September 19, Burgoyne attempted to flank the American position, and clashed with Gates' troops at Freeman's Farm. The British took possession of the field, but at the cost of 600 casualties, a tenth of their force. Rather than press on, Burgoyne dug in and awaited news of assistance from New York. His army was suffering a haemorrhage of deserters, and had almost exhausted critical supplies. On October 3, Henry Clinton did attempt to support Burgoyne, capturing two key forts on October 6, but turned back 10 days later.
Meanwhile, the American army was growing in size daily, and had swollen to over 15,000 men. Burgoyne's situation was now desperate. Early on the afternoon of October 7, the British launched a reconnaissance in force against the American left flank. During the battle that followed, the Americans overwhelmed the British forces, and the carnage was only brought to an end by nightfall. The battle was a bloodbath for Burgoyne, who suffered nearly 900 casualties, among them Brigadier General Simon Fraser, who died of his wounds. Burgoyne withdrew to Saratoga, while Gates ordered pursuit. By October 13, Burgoyne's army was completely encircled. With no hope of relief, and provisions almost depleted, Burgoyne surrendered on October 17. 6,222 soldiers became prisoners of the Americans. The decisive success spurred France to enter the war as an ally of the United States, securing the final elements needed for victory over Britain.
Howe's campaign against Washington began in June, 1777, in a series of manoeuvres in New Jersey, failing to bring the Americans to battle. Howe had several options on how best to approach Philadelphia. The most favored were overland routes through New Jersey, or by sea via the Delaware Bay, as both could have kept him in a position to aid Burgoyne if needed. Instead, Howe took his army through a time-consuming route through the Chesapeake Bay, leaving him wholly unable to assist Burgoyne. This decision was so difficult to understand that Howe's more hostile critics accused him of treachery.
Howe landed at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay on August 25 at the head of the Elk River, landing 15,000 troops. Washington posted 11,000 men between Howe and Philadelphia on a strong position at the Brandywine River. Howe outflanked and defeated him on September 11, 1777, costing the Americans over a thousand men. Howe chose not to follow up on the victory, which French observers noted could have destroyed Washington's army. In the wake of the defeat, Congress abandoned Philadelphia, eventually relocating to York. A series of manoeuvres in the following days led to an indecisive clash near the East Whiteland Township on September 16, and the dispersal of another American force at the Willistown Township on September 20. On September 26, Howe outmanoeuvred Washington and captured Philadelphia unopposed.
Howe then sent some troops to reduce rebel forts blocking his communications along the Delaware River. Leaving around 3,000 troops to garrison Philadelphia, Howe garrisoned 9,000 men at Germantown, five miles (8km) north of the city. Hoping to emulate his earlier success at Trenton, Washington launched a surprise attack on the garrison on October 4, which was repulsed with significant casualties. Yet again, Howe failed to follow up on his victory, leaving the American army intact and able to fight. On October 22, American troops repulsed a much larger Hessian force sent to reduce Fort Mercer. After a protracted siege, Fort Mifflin fell on November 16, and an abandoned Fort Mercer was captured four days later. Meanwhile, Washington had placed his army at White Marsh and began constructing defences. With the defeat of Burgoyne, he was bolstered by additional troops from the north. A stalemate ensued until Howe finally decided to move, and advanced to White Marsh on December 5. After several days of skirmishing, Howe ordered a retreat to Philadelphia, to the astonishment of both sides. Howe had ignored the vulnerable American rear, where an attack could have deprived Washington of his baggage and provisions.
On December 19, Washington's army entered winter quarters at Valley Forge. The soldiers were ill-equipped for winter, and food supplies were precariously low. Conditions of the accommodation was poor, and disease and malnutrition ravaged the camp; come spring, 2,500 soldiers had died. Washington's issues were compounded by a conspiracy to undermine his leadership, however, strong support in his favor abated the crisis. Howe, only 20 miles (32 km) away in Philadelphia, made no effort to exploit the weakness of the American army; an attack on Washington's camp could have overwhelmed them and ended the war. While encamped, the American army underwent an overhaul. A new training program, supervised by Baron von Steuben, introduced the most modern Prussian methods of organization and tactics.
Meanwhile, Howe had tended his resignation, and was replaced by Henry Clinton on May 24, 1778. After France entered the war, Clinton received orders to abandon Philadelphia and concentrate in New York. Clinton was also instructed to abandon New York if the position became untenable. On June 18, the British departed Philadelphia, and began the overland march to New York. The reinvigorated Americans left Valley Forge the following day in pursuit. The two armies fought an indecisive clash at Monmouth Court House on June 28. The Americans held the field, greatly boosting morale and confidence. By July, both armies were back in the same positions they had been two years prior.
From the spring of 1776, France and Spain had informally been involved in the American Revolutionary War, with French admiral Latouche Tréville having provided supplies, ammunition and guns from France to the United States after Thomas Jefferson encouraged a French alliance. Guns such as de Valliere type were used, playing an important role in such battles as the Battle of Saratoga. After learning of the American victory at Saratoga, the French became concerned that the British would reconcile their differences with the colonists and turn on France. In particular, King Louis XVI was influenced by alarmist reports suggesting that Britain was preparing to make huge concessions to the colonies and then, allied with them, strike at French and Spanish possessions in the West Indies. To thwart this, they concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the United States on February 6, 1778, committing the Americans to seek nothing less than absolute independence. Previously France had only been willing to act in conjunction with Spain but now they were willing to go to war alone if necessary. Britain responded by recalling its ambassador, although Franco-British hostilities did not actually break out until June 17, 1778.
In 1776, the Count of Aranda met in representation of Spain with the first U.S. Commission composed by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. The Continental Congress had charged the commissioners to travel to Europe and forge alliances with other European powers that could help break the British naval blockade along the North American coast. Aranda invited the commission to his house in Paris, where he was acting as Spanish ambassador and he became an active supporter of the struggle of the fledgling Colonies, recommending an early and open Spanish commitment to the Colonies. However, he was overruled by José Moñino, 1st Count of Floridablanca who opted for a more discreet approach. The Spanish position was later summarized by the Spanish Ambassador to the French Court, Jerónimo Grimaldi, in a letter to Arthur Lee who was in Madrid trying to persuade the Spanish government to declare an open alliance. Grimaldi told Lee that "You have considered your own situation, and not ours. The moment is not yet come for us. The war with Portugal — France being unprepared, and our treasure ships from South America not being arrived — makes it improper for us to declare immediately." Meanwhile, Grimaldi reassured Lee, stores of clothing and powder were deposited at New Orleans and Havana for the Americans, and further shipments of blankets were being collected at Bilbao.
Spain finally entered the war officially in June 1779, thus implementing the Treaty of Aranjuez. The Spanish government had been providing assistance to the revolutionaries since the very beginning of the war, but it did not recognize the United States officially. The Dutch Republic, which also had assisted the colonists since 1776, declared war on Britain at the end of 1780, and did recognize the United States diplomatically.
Second phase, 1778–1781
Following news of the surrender at Saratoga and concern over French intervention, the British decided to completely accept the original demands made by the American Patriots. Parliament repealed the remaining tax on tea and declared that no taxes would ever be imposed on colonies without their consent (except for custom duties, the revenues of which would be returned to the colonies). A Commission was formed to negotiate directly with the Continental Congress for the first time. The Commission was empowered to suspend all the other objectionable acts by Parliament passed since 1763, issue general pardons, and declare a cessation of hostilities. The Commissioners arrived in America in June 1778 and offered to place the colonies in the condition of 1763 if they would return to the allegiance of the King. Moreover, they agreed that no troops would be placed in the colonies without their consent. The Congress refused to negotiate with the commission unless they first acknowledged American independence or withdrew all troops. On October 3, 1778, the British published a proclamation offering amnesty to any colonies or individuals who accepted their proposals within forty days, implying serious consequences if they still refused. There was no positive reply.
King George III gave up all hope of subduing America by more armies, while Britain had a European war to fight. "It was a joke," he said, "to think of keeping Pennsylvania." There was no hope of recovering New England. But the King was still determined "never to acknowledge the independence of the Americans, and to punish their contumacy by the indefinite prolongation of a war which promised to be eternal". His plan was to keep the 30,000 men garrisoned in New York, Rhode Island, Quebec, and Florida; other forces would attack the French and Spanish in the West Indies. To punish the Americans the King planned to destroy their coasting-trade, bombard their ports; sack and burn towns along the coast and turn loose the Native Americans to attack civilians in frontier settlements. These operations, the King felt, would inspire the Loyalists; would splinter the Congress; and "would keep the rebels harassed, anxious, and poor, until the day when, by a natural and inevitable process, discontent and disappointment were converted into penitence and remorse" and they would beg to return to his authority. The plan meant destruction for the Loyalists and loyal Native Americans, an indefinite prolongation of a costly war, and the risk of disaster as the French and Spanish assembled an armada to invade the British Isles. The King hoped to re-subjugate the rebellious colonies after dealing with the Americans' European allies.
Northern theater after Saratoga, 1778–1781
French entry into the war had changed British strategy, and Clinton abandoned Philadelphia to reinforce New York City, now vulnerable to French naval power. Washington shadowed Clinton on his withdrawal through New Jersey and attacked him at Monmouth on June 28, 1778. The battle was tactically inconclusive but Clinton successfully disengaged and continued his retreat to New York. It was the last major battle in the north. Clinton's army went to New York City in July, arriving just before a French fleet under Admiral d'Estaing arrived off the American coast. Washington's army returned to White Plains, New York, north of New York City. Although both armies were back where they had been two years earlier, the nature of the war had now changed as the British had to withdraw troops from North America to counter the French threats elsewhere.
In August 1778 the Americans attempted to capture British-held Newport, Rhode Island with the assistance of France, but the effort failed when the French withdrew their support. The war in the north then bogged down into a stalemate, with neither side capable of attacking the other in any decisive manner. The British instead attempted to wear out American resolve by launching various raiding expeditions such as Tryon's raid against Connecticut in July 1779. In that year the Americans won two morale-enhancing victories by capturing posts at Stony Point and Paulus Hook, although the British quickly retook them. In October 1779 the British voluntarily abandoned Newport and Stony Point in order to consolidate their forces.
During the winter of 1779–80 the American army suffered worse hardships than they had at Valley Forge previously. The Congress was ineffective, the Continental currency worthless, and the supply system was fundamentally broken. Washington was finding it extremely difficult to keep his army together, even without any major fighting against the British. In 1780 actual mutinies broke out in the American camp. The Continental Army's strength dwindled to such an extent that the British decided to mount two probing attacks against New Jersey in June 1780. The New Jersey militia strongly rallied, however, and the British quickly returned to their bases.
In July 1780 the American cause received a boost when a 5,500 strong French expeditionary force arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. Washington hoped to use this assistance to attack the British at New York and end the war. Events elsewhere, however, would frustrate this. Additional French reinforcements were prevented from arriving by a British blockade of French ports, and the French troops at Newport quickly found themselves blockaded as well. Moreover, the French fleet refused to visit the American coast in 1780, having suffered significant damage in actions in the West Indies.
Benedict Arnold, the American victor of Saratoga, grew increasingly disenchanted with struggle and decided to defect. In September 1780 he attempted to surrender the key American fort at West Point along the Hudson River to the British, but his plot was exposed. He escaped and continued to fight under the British army. He wrote an open letter justifying his actions by claiming he had only fought for a redress of grievances and since Britain had withdrawn those grievances (see above) there was no reason to continue shedding blood, particularly in an alliance with an ancient and tyrannical enemy like France. He led the last British attack in the north, a devastating raid against New London in September 1781.
Northern and Western frontier
West of the Appalachian Mountains and along the border with Quebec, the American Revolutionary War was an "Indian War". Most Native Americans supported the British. Like the Iroquois Confederacy, tribes such as the Shawnee split into factions, and the Chickamauga split off from the rest of the Cherokee over differences regarding peace with the Americans. The British supplied their native allies with muskets, gunpowder and advice, while Loyalists led raids against civilian settlements, especially in New York, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Joint Iroquois-Loyalist attacks in the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania and at Cherry Valley in New York in 1778 provoked Washington to send the Sullivan Expedition into western New York during the summer of 1779. There was little fighting as Sullivan systematically destroyed the Indians' winter food supplies, forcing them to flee permanently to British bases in Quebec and the Niagara Falls area.
During the Illinois Campaign of 1778, the Virginia frontiersman George Rogers Clark attempted to neutralize British influence among the Ohio valley tribes by capturing the colonial outposts of Kaskaskia and Cahokia and Vincennes, in the Illinois Country. When General Henry Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, retook Vincennes, Clark returned in a surprise march in February 1779 and captured Hamilton.
In March 1782, Pennsylvania militiamen killed about a hundred neutral Native Americans in the Gnadenhütten massacre. In the last major encounters of the war, a force of 200 Kentucky militia was defeated at the Battle of Blue Licks in August 1782.
Georgia and the Carolinas, 1778–1781
During the first three years of the American Revolutionary War, the primary military encounters were in the north, although some attempts to organize Loyalists were defeated, a British attempt at Charleston, South Carolina failed, and a variety of efforts to attack British forces in East Florida failed. After French entry into the war, the British turned their attention to the southern colonies, where they hoped to regain control by recruiting large numbers of Loyalists. This southern strategy also had the advantage of keeping the Royal Navy closer to the Caribbean, where the British needed to defend economically important possessions against the French and Spanish.
On December 29, 1778, an expeditionary corps from Clinton's army in New York captured Savannah, Georgia. An attempt by French and American forces to retake Savannah failed on October 9, 1779. Clinton then besieged Charleston, capturing it and most of the southern Continental Army on May 12, 1780. With relatively few casualties, Clinton had seized the South's biggest city and seaport, providing a base for further conquest.
The remnants of the southern Continental Army began to withdraw to North Carolina but were pursued by Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, who defeated them at the Waxhaws on May 29, 1780. With these events, organized American military activity in the region collapsed, though the war was carried on by partisans such as Francis Marion. Cornwallis took over British operations, while Horatio Gates arrived to command the American effort. On August 16, 1780, Gates was defeated at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina, setting the stage for Cornwallis to invade North Carolina. Georgia and South Carolina were thus both restored to Britain for the time being.
Cornwallis' efforts to advance into North Carolina were frustrated. A Loyalist wing of his army was utterly defeated at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, which temporarily aborted his planned advance. He received reinforcements, but his light infantry under Tarleton was decisively defeated by Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. In spite of this, Cornwallis decided to proceed, gambling that he would receive substantial Loyalist support. General Nathanael Greene, who replaced General Gates, evaded contact with Cornwallis while seeking reinforcements. By March, Greene's army had grown to the point where he felt that he could face Cornwallis directly. In the key Battle of Guilford Court House, Cornwallis drove Greene's much larger army off the battlefield, but in doing so suffered casualties amounting to one-fourth of his army. Compounding this, far fewer Loyalists were joining up than expected because the Patriots put heavy pressure on them and their families, who would become hostages. Cornwallis decided to retreat to coastal Wilmington, North Carolina for resupply and reinforcement, leaving the interior of the Carolinas and Georgia open to Greene. He then proceeded north into Virginia (see below).
American troops in conjunction with Patriot partisans then began the process of reclaiming territory in South Carolina and Georgia. Despite British victories at Hobkirk's Hill and at the Siege of Ninety-Six, by the middle of the year they had been forced to withdraw to the coastal lowlands region of both colonies. The final battle (Battle of Eutaw Springs) in September 1781 was indecisive but by the end of the year the British held only Savannah and Charleston.
Cornwallis proceeded from Wilmington north into Virginia, on the grounds that Virginia needed to be subdued in order to hold the southern colonies. Earlier, in January 1781, a small British raiding force under Benedict Arnold had landed there, and began moving through the countryside, destroying supply depots, mills, and other economic targets. In February, General Washington dispatched General Lafayette to counter Arnold, later also sending General Anthony Wayne. Arnold was reinforced with additional troops from New York in March, and his army was joined with that of Cornwallis in May. Lafayette skirmished with Cornwallis, avoiding a large-scale battle while gathering reinforcements.
Cornwallis' Virginia campaign was strongly opposed by his superior, General Clinton, who did not believe such a large and disease-ridden area, with a hostile population, could be pacified with the limited forces available. Clinton instead favored conducting operations further north in the Chesapeake region (Maryland, Delaware, and southern Pennsylvania) where he believed there was a strong Loyalist presence. Upon his arrival at Williamsburg in June, Cornwallis received orders from Clinton to establish a fortified naval base and a request to send several thousand troops to New York to counter a possible Franco-American attack. Following these orders, he fortified Yorktown, and, shadowed by Lafayette, awaited the arrival of the Royal Navy.
The northern, southern, and naval theaters of the war converged in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia. The French fleet became available for operations, which could either move against Yorktown or New York. Washington still favored attacking New York, but the French decided to send the fleet to their preferred target at Yorktown. Learning of the planned movement of the French fleet in August, Washington began moving his army south to cooperate. The British fleet, not realizing that the French had sent their entire fleet to America, dispatched an inadequate force under Admiral Graves, though the underlying reason for this was a lack of naval resources. Since the entry of France and Spain into the war, the British lacked the necessary ships to match their opponents' every move.
In early September, French naval forces defeated the British fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, cutting off Cornwallis' escape. Cornwallis, still expecting to receive support, failed to break out while he had the chance. When Washington's army arrived outside Yorktown, Cornwallis prematurely abandoned his outer position, hastening his subsequent defeat. The combined Franco-American force of 18,900 men began besieging Cornwallis in early October. For several days, the French and Americans bombarded the British defenses, and then began taking the outer redoubts. The British attempted to cobble together a relief expedition, but encountered numerous delays. Cornwallis decided his position was becoming untenable and he surrendered his entire army of over 7,000 men on October 19, 1781, the same day that the British fleet at New York sailed for his relief.
Downfall of the North Ministry
News of the surrender at Yorktown arrived in Britain in November 1781. King George III took the news calmly and delivered a defiant address pledging to continue the war; a majority of the House of Commons endorsed it. In the succeeding months news arrived of other reverses, however. The French and Spanish successfully took several West Indian islands and appeared to be on the verge of completely expelling the British there. Minorca also surrendered to a Franco-Spanish force on February 5, 1782, and Gibraltar seemed to be in danger of falling as well. In light of this, Parliament on February 27, 1782, voted to cease all offensive operations in America and seek peace. Threatened with votes of no confidence, on March 20 Lord North resigned and his Tory government was replaced by the Whigs. Ironically, shortly after North resigned the British won the Battle of the Saintes, putting an end to the French threat in the West Indies, and they successfully relieved Gibraltar. Had the North government held out for a few more months they would have been considerably strengthened and could have continued the war in spite of Yorktown.
The new Whig administration accepted American independence as a basis for peace. There were no further major military activities in North America, although the British still had 30,000 garrison troops occupying New York City, Charleston, and Savannah. The war continued elsewhere, including the siege of Gibraltar and naval operations in the East and West Indies, until peace was agreed in September 1783.
When the war began, the British had overwhelming naval superiority over the American colonists although their fleet was old and in poor condition, a situation that would be blamed on Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty. During the first three years of the war, the Royal Navy was primarily used to transport troops for land operations and to protect commercial shipping. The American colonists had no ships of the line, and relied extensively on privateering to harass British shipping. The privateers caused worry disproportionate to their material success, although those operating out of French channel ports before and after France joined the war caused significant embarrassment to the Royal Navy and inflamed Anglo-French relations. About 55,000 American sailors served aboard the privateers during the war. The American privateers had almost 1,700 ships, and they captured 2,283 enemy ships. The Continental Congress authorized the creation of a small Continental Navy in October 1775, which was primarily used for commerce raiding. John Paul Jones became the first great American naval hero, capturing HMS Drake on April 24, 1778, the first victory for any American military vessel in British waters.
During the second period, the successive interventions of France, Spain, and the Netherlands extended the naval war until it ranged from the West Indies to the Bay of Bengal. This second period lasted from the summer of 1778 to the middle of 1783, and it included operations already been in progress in America or for the protection of commerce, and naval campaigns on a great scale carried out by the fleets of the maritime powers.
Britain vs. France, Spain, Mysore, and Holland 1778–1783
Spain entered the war as a French ally with the goal of recapturing Gibraltar and Minorca, which had been captured by an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704. Gibraltar was besieged for more than three years, but the British garrison stubbornly resisted and was resupplied twice: once after Admiral Rodney's victory over Juan de Lángara in the 1780 "Moonlight Battle", and again by Admiral Richard Howe in 1782. Further Franco-Spanish efforts to capture Gibraltar were unsuccessful. One notable success took place on February 5, 1782, when Spanish and French forces captured Minorca, which Spain retained after the war. Ambitious plans for an invasion of Great Britain in 1779 had to be abandoned.
West Indies and Gulf Coast
The Battle of the Saintes fought on April 12, 1782, near Guadeloupe.
Spanish forces at the Siege of Pensacola (1781).
There was much action in the West Indies, especially in the Lesser Antilles. Although France lost St. Lucia early in the war, its navy dominated the West Indies, capturing Dominica, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Montserrat, Tobago, St. Kitts and the Turks and Caicos between 1778 and 1782. Dutch possessions in the West Indies and South America were captured by Britain but later recaptured by France and restored to the Dutch Republic. At the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782, a victory by Rodney's fleet over the French Admiral de Grasse frustrated the hopes of France and Spain to take Jamaica and other colonies from the British.
In the Gulf Coast campaign, Count Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, quickly removed the British from their outposts on the lower Mississippi River in 1779 in actions at Manchac and Baton Rouge in British West Florida. Gálvez then captured Mobile in 1780 and stormed and captured the British citadel and capital of Pensacola in 1781. On May 8, 1782, Gálvez captured the British naval base at New Providence in the Bahamas; it was ceded by Spain after the Treaty of Paris and simultaneously recovered by British Loyalists in 1783. Gálvez' actions led to the Spanish acquisition of East and West Florida in the peace settlement, denied the British the opportunity of encircling the American forces from the south, and kept open a vital conduit for supplies to the American frontier. The Continental Congress cited Gálvez in 1785 for his aid during the revolution and George Washington took him to his right during the first parade of July 4.
Central America was also subject to conflict between Britain and Spain, as Britain sought to expand its informal trading influence beyond coastal logging and fishing communities in present-day Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Expeditions against San Fernando de Omoa in 1779 and San Juan in 1780 (the latter famously led by a young Horatio Nelson) met with only temporary success before being abandoned due to disease. The Spanish colonial leaders, in turn, could not completely eliminate British influences along the Mosquito Coast. Except for the French acquisition of Tobago, sovereignty in the West Indies was returned to the status quo ante bellum in the peace of 1783.
When word reached India in 1778 that France had entered the war, the British East India Company moved quickly to capture French trading outposts there, capturing Pondicherry after two months of siege. The capture of the French-controlled port of Mahé on India's west coast motivated Mysore's ruler, Hyder Ali (who was already upset at other British actions, and benefited from trade through the port), to open the Second Anglo-Mysore War in 1780. Ali, and later his son Tipu Sultan, almost drove the British from southern India but was frustrated by weak French support, and the war ended status quo ante bellum with the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore. French opposition was led in 1782 and 1783 by Admiral the Baillie de Suffren, who recaptured Trincomalee from the British and fought five celebrated, but largely inconclusive, naval engagements against British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes. France's trading posts in India were returned after the war.
Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
The Dutch Republic, nominally neutral, had been trading with the Americans, exchanging Dutch arms and munitions for American colonial wares (in contravention of the British Navigation Acts), primarily through activity based in St. Eustatius, before the French formally entered the war. The British considered this trade to include contraband military supplies and had attempted to stop it, at first diplomatically by appealing to previous treaty obligations, interpretation of whose terms the two nations disagreed on, and then by searching and seizing Dutch merchant ships. The situation escalated when the British seized a Dutch merchant convoy sailing under Dutch naval escort in December 1779, prompting the Dutch to join the League of Armed Neutrality. Britain responded to this decision by declaring war on the Dutch in December 1780, sparking the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The war was a military and economic disaster for the Dutch Republic. Paralyzed by internal political divisions, it could not respond effectively to British blockades of its coast and the capture of many of its colonies. In the 1784 peace treaty between the two nations, the Dutch lost the Indian port of Negapatam and were forced to make trade concessions. The Dutch Republic signed a friendship and trade agreement with the United States in 1782, becoming the second country to formally recognize the United States.
Treaty of Paris
In London, as political support for the war plummeted after Yorktown, British Prime Minister Lord North resigned in March 1782. In April 1782, the Commons voted to end the war in America. Preliminary peace articles were signed in Paris at the end of November 1782; the formal end of the war did not occur until the Treaty of Paris (for the U.S.) and the Treaties of Versailles (for the other Allies) were signed on September 3, 1783. The last British troops left New York City on November 25, 1783, and the United States Congress of the Confederation ratified the Paris treaty on January 14, 1784.
Britain negotiated the Paris peace treaty without consulting her Native American allies and ceded all Native American territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River to the United States. Native Americans reluctantly confirmed these land cessions with the United States in a series of treaties, but the fighting would be renewed in conflicts along the frontier in the coming years, the largest being the Northwest Indian War. The British sought to establish a buffer Indian state in the American Midwest, and continued to pursue that goal as late as 1814 in the War of 1812.
The United States gained more than it expected, thanks to the award of western territory. The other Allies had mixed-to-poor results. France made some gains over its nemesis, Great Britain, but its material gains were minimal and its financial losses huge. It was already in financial trouble and its borrowing to pay for the war used up all its credit and created the financial disasters that marked the 1780s. Historians link those disasters to the coming of the French Revolution. The Dutch clearly lost on all points. The Spanish had a mixed result; they did not achieve their primary war goal (recovery of Gibraltar), but they did gain territory. However, in the long run, as the case of Florida shows, the new territory was of little or no value.
Analysis of combatants
The population of Great Britain and Ireland in 1780 was approximately 12.6 million while the population of the thirteen colonies for the same year has been estimated at 2.8 million including over 500,000 slaves. Theoretically this gave Britain a 4.5:1 manpower advantage. By comparison the Union's manpower advantage over the Confederacy in the American Civil War was only 2.5:1. In practice, the British army never had more than a slight numerical advantage over the Continental Army due to a number of factors, including the need to maintain significant numbers of troops outside of North America. Conscription outside of naval impressment did not exist in Britain at that time, and the proportion of Americans willing to serve in their own country's defense was believed to be considerably larger than the proportion of Britons willing to serve overseas. One pre-war estimate claimed that the Patriots could mobilize 100,000 men in a matter of months, but substantial loyalist or neutralist sentiment would keep Patriot forces much smaller than their potential.
Historians continue to debate whether the odds for American victory were long or short. John E. Ferling says the odds were so long that the American victory was "Almost A Miracle." On the other hand, Joseph Ellis says the odds favored the Americans, and asks whether there ever was any realistic chance for the British to win. He argues that this opportunity came only once, in the summer of 1776 and the British failed that test. Admiral Howe and his brother General Howe, "missed several opportunities to destroy the Continental Army....Chance, luck, and even the vagaries of the weather played crucial roles." Ellis's point is that the strategic and tactical decisions of the Howes were fatally flawed because they underestimated the challenges posed by the Patriots. Ellis concludes that once the Howe brothers failed, the opportunity for a British victory "would never come again.":11 The U.S. Army's official textbook argues that while the British difficulties were great, they were hardly insurmountable. "The British forfeited several chances for military victory in 1776–1777, and again in 1780 they might have won had they been able to throw 10,000 fresh troops into the American war."
The Americans began the war with significant disadvantages compared to the British. They had no national government, no national army or navy, no financial system, no banks, no established credit, and no functioning government departments, such as a treasury. The Congress tried to handle administrative affairs through legislative committees, which proved inefficient. The state governments were themselves brand new and officials had no administrative experience. In peacetime the colonies relied heavily on ocean travel and shipping, but that was now shut down by the British blockade and the Americans had to rely on slow overland travel.
However, the Americans had multiple advantages that in the long run outweighed the initial disadvantages they faced. The Americans had a large prosperous population that depended not on imports but on local production for food and most supplies, while the British were mostly shipped in from across the ocean. The British faced a vast territory far larger than Britain or France, located at a far distance from home ports. Most of the Americans lived on farms distant from the seaports—the British could capture any port but that did not give them control over the hinterland. They were on their home ground, had a smoothly functioning, well organized system of local and state governments, newspapers and printers, and internal lines of communications. They had a long-established system of local militia, previously used to combat the French and Native Americans, with companies and an officer corps that could form the basis of local militias, and provide a training ground for the national army created by Congress.
Motivation was a major asset. The Patriots wanted to win; over 200,000 fought in the war; 25,000 died. The British expected the Loyalists to do much of the fighting, but they did much less than expected. The British also hired German mercenaries to do much of their fighting.
At the onset of the war, the Americans had no major international allies. Battles such as the Battle of Bennington, the Battles of Saratoga and even defeats such as the Battle of Germantown proved decisive in gaining the attention and support of powerful European nations such as France and Spain, who moved from covertly supplying the Americans with weapons and supplies, to overtly supporting them militarily, moving the war to a global stage.
The new Continental Army suffered significantly from a lack of an effective training regime, and largely inexperienced officers and sergeants. The inexperience of its officers was compensated for in part by its senior officers; officers such as George Washington, Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, Richard Montgomery and Francis Marion all had military experience with the British Army during the French and Indian War. The Americans solved their training dilemma during their stint in Winter Quarters at Valley Forge, where they were relentlessly drilled and trained by General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a veteran of the famed Prussian General Staff. He taught the Continental Army the essentials of military discipline, drills, tactics and strategy, and wrote the Revolutionary War Drill Manual. When the Army emerged from Valley Forge, it proved its ability to equally match the British troops in battle when they fought a successful strategic action at the Battle of Monmouth.
When the war began, the 13 colonies lacked a professional army or navy. Each colony sponsored local militia. Militiamen were lightly armed, had little training, and usually did not have uniforms. Their units served for only a few weeks or months at a time, were reluctant to travel far from home and thus were unavailable for extended operations, and lacked the training and discipline of soldiers with more experience. If properly used, however, their numbers could help the Continental armies overwhelm smaller British forces, as at the battles of Concord, Bennington and Saratoga, and the siege of Boston. Both sides used partisan warfare but the Americans effectively suppressed Loyalist activity when British regulars were not in the area.
Seeking to coordinate military efforts, the Continental Congress established a regular army on June 14, 1775, and appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief. The development of the Continental Army was always a work in progress, and Washington used both his regulars and state militia throughout the war.
The United States Marine Corps traces its institutional roots to the Continental Marines of the war, formed by a resolution of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775, a date regarded and celebrated as the birthday of the Marine Corps. At the beginning of 1776, Washington's army had 20,000 men, with two-thirds enlisted in the Continental Army and the other third in the various state militias. At the end of the American Revolution in 1783, both the Continental Navy and Continental Marines were disbanded. About 250,000 men served as regulars or as militiamen for the Revolutionary cause in the eight years of the war, but there were never more than 90,000 men under arms at one time.
Armies were small by European standards of the era, largely attributable to limitations such as lack of powder and other logistical capabilities on the American side. It was also difficult for Great Britain to transport troops across the Atlantic and they depended on local supplies that the Patriots tried to cut off. By comparison, Duffy notes that Frederick the Great usually commanded from 23,000 to 50,000 in battle. Both figures pale in comparison to the armies that were fielded in the early 19th century, where troop formations approached or exceeded 100,000 men.
Historians have estimated that approximately 40 to 45 percent of the colonists supported the rebellion, while 15 to 20 percent remained loyal to the Crown. The rest attempted to remain neutral and kept a low profile.
At least 25,000 Loyalists fought on the side of the British. Thousands served in the Royal Navy. On land, Loyalist forces fought alongside the British in most battles in North America. Many Loyalists fought in partisan units, especially in the Southern theater.
The British military met with many difficulties in maximizing the use of Loyalist factions. British historian Jeremy Black wrote, "In the American war it was clear to both royal generals and revolutionaries that organized and significant Loyalist activity would require the presence of British forces." In the South, the use of Loyalists presented the British with "major problems of strategic choice" since while it was necessary to widely disperse troops in order to defend Loyalist areas, it was also recognized that there was a need for "the maintenance of large concentrated forces able" to counter major attacks from the American forces. In addition, the British were forced to ensure that their military actions would not "offend Loyalist opinion", eliminating such options as attempting to "live off the country", destroying property for intimidation purposes, or coercing payments from colonists ("laying them under contribution").
Loyalist writings throughout the conflict persistently claimed that they were the majority, and influenced London officials to believe that it would be possible to raise many Loyalist regiments. As late as 1780 the Loyalists were deceiving themselves and top London officials about their supposedly strong base of support.
Britain entered the war with confidence; it had the world's most powerful navy, a well-trained professional army, a sound financial system that could pay the costs, a stable government, and experienced leadership. However they were beset with major challenges. Compared to the Americans, the British had no major allies, and only had troops provided by small German states to bolster the small British Army. At the onset of the war, the British Army was less than 48,000 strong worldwide, and suffered from a lack of effective recruiting. By 1778, the army was pardoning criminals for military service and had extended the age range for service to be from 16 to 50. Although its officer and non-commissioned officer corps were relatively professional and experienced, this professionalism was diluted because wealthy individuals lacking military experience could purchase commissions and promotions. As a consequence, inexperienced officers sometimes found their way into positions of high responsibility.
Distance was also a major problem for the British. Although the Royal Navy was the largest and most experienced in the world at the time, it sometimes took months for troops to reach North America, and orders were often out of date because the military situation on the ground had changed by the time they arrived. Additionally, the British had logistical problems whenever they operated away from the coast; they were vulnerable to guerilla attacks on their supply chains whenever they went far inland. On a logistical note, the flints used in British weapons also put them at a disadvantage on the battlefield. British flints could fire only 6 rounds before requiring re-sharpening, while American flints could fire 60 rounds before resharpening. A common expression ran among the redcoats; which was that "Yankee flint was as good as a glass of grog." Although discipline was harsh in the army, the redcoats had little self-discipline; gambling, looting, promiscuity and heavy drinking were common problems, among all ranks alike. The army suffered from mediocre organisation in terms of logistics, food supplies were often bad and the sparse land of America offered little in the way of finding reliable substitutes.
Suppressing a rebellion in America also posed other problems. At the onset of the war, the British had around 8,000 men stationed in North America. However, these were required to cover an area that stretched from northern Canada to Florida, a distance of almost 2,000 miles (3,200 km). As the colonies had not been united before the war, there was no central area of strategic importance. In European conflicts, the capture of a capital city often meant the end of the war; however in America, when the British seized key cities such as New York, Philadelphia or Boston—or Washington, D.C. in the War of 1812 thirty years later—the war continued unabated. Furthermore, despite the fact that at its height, the British fielded some 56,000 men in the colonies exclusive of mercenaries and militia, they lacked sufficient numbers. It was not unusual for the Americans to suffer a string of defeats, only to have the British retreat because they could not occupy the captured land. Despite strong Loyalist support, these troops were often displaced by Patriot militia when British regulars were not in the area, demonstrated at battles such as Kings Mountain. As a result of the manpower shortage and Patriot control of the countryside, where the majority of the American population lived, the British often could not simultaneously defeat the Americans on the field and occupy the captured areas, evidenced by withdrawals from Philadelphia and the Carolinas after great initial success. The manpower shortage became critical when France, Spain and the Netherlands entered the war, as the British were spread across several theatres worldwide, when before they were concentrated only in America.
The British also had to contend with several psychological factors during the conflict. The need to maintain Loyalist allegiance provided setbacks, as the British could not use the harsh methods of suppressing rebellion they had used in Ireland and Scotland. Loyalists often came from the same communities as Patriots and as a result, such methods could not be employed for fear of alienating them. Even despite these limitations, neutral colonists were often driven into the ranks of the Revolutionaries due to the conflict, such as the war in the Carolinas, marked by heavy brutality on both sides. A single American victory could often reverse the impact of a string of British successes, as shown by engagements at Trenton, Bennington, King's Mountain and even defeats such as Germantown, all of which went a long way to galvanizing Patriot support for the war, and of persuading European powers such as France and Spain to support the rebellion.
Early in 1775, the British Army consisted of about 36,000 men worldwide, but wartime recruitment steadily increased this number. Great Britain had a difficult time appointing general officers, however. General Thomas Gage, in command of British forces in North America when the rebellion started, was criticized for being too lenient (perhaps influenced by his American wife). General Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst turned down an appointment as commander in chief due to an unwillingness to take sides in the conflict. Similarly, Admiral Augustus Keppel turned down a command, saying "I cannot draw the sword in such a cause." The Earl of Effingham publicly resigned his commission when his 22nd Regiment of foot was posted to America, and William Howe and John Burgoyne were members of parliament who opposed military solutions to the American rebellion. Howe and Henry Clinton stated that they were unwilling participants in the war and were only following orders. The British Parliament was also far from united in supporting military opposition to the American Patriots. Lord North held the post of Prime Minister with a Tory majority backing him, advocating military suppression of the American rebellion. However, they were constantly and vehemently opposed by a large Whig minority, with politicians such as Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke of the Rockingham Whigs fiercely voicing their derision of pursuing military solutions to the rebellion. The Whigs gained prominence in Parliament as the British suffered strategic defeats at Saratoga and later at Yorktown, resulting in the collapse of Lord North's ministry.
Over the course of the war, Great Britain signed treaties with various German states, which supplied about 30,000 soldiers. Germans made up about one-third of the British troop strength in North America. The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel contributed more soldiers than any other state, and German soldiers became known as "Hessians" to the Americans. Revolutionary speakers called German soldiers "foreign mercenaries", and they are scorned as such in the Declaration of Independence. By 1779, the number of British and German troops stationed in North America was over 60,000, although these were spread from Canada to Florida. Initially, several German principalities offered military support to Great Britain but these offers were rejected. However, as the war dragged on it became clear that Great Britain would need the extra manpower of the German states and led to Great Britain seeking support from German principalities such as Hesse-Kassel and Ansbach-Bayreuth.
The Secretary of State at War Lord Barrington and the Adjutant-General Edward Harvey were both strongly opposed to outright war on land. In 1766 Barrington had recommended withdrawing the army from the Thirteen Colonies to Canada, Nova Scotia and Florida. At the beginning of the war he urged a naval blockade, which would quickly damage the colonists' trading activities.
African Americans—slave and free—served on both sides during the war. The British recruited slaves belonging to Patriot masters and promised freedom to those who served by act of Lord Dunmore's Proclamation. Because of manpower shortages, George Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in the Continental Army in January 1776. Small all-black units were formed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; many slaves were promised freedom for serving. Some of the men promised freedom were sent back to their masters, after the war was over, out of political convenience. Another all-black unit came from Saint-Domingue with French colonial forces. At least 5,000 black soldiers fought for the Revolutionary cause.
Tens of thousands of slaves escaped during the war and joined British lines; others simply moved off in the chaos. For instance, in South Carolina, nearly 25,000 slaves (30% of the enslaved population) fled, migrated or died during the disruption of the war. This greatly disrupted plantation production during and after the war. When they withdrew their forces from Savannah and Charleston, the British also evacuated 10,000 slaves belonging to Loyalists. Altogether, the British evacuated nearly 20,000 blacks at the end of the war. More than 3,000 of them were freedmen and most of these were resettled in Nova Scotia; other blacks were sold in the West Indies.
Most Native Americans east of the Mississippi River were affected by the war, and many communities were divided over the question of how to respond to the conflict. Though a few tribes were on friendly terms with the Americans, most Native Americans opposed the United States as a potential threat to their territory. Approximately 13,000 Native Americans fought on the British side, with the largest group coming from the Iroquois tribes, who fielded around 1,500 men. The powerful Iroquois Confederacy was shattered as a result of the conflict; although the Confederacy did not take sides, the Seneca, Onondaga, and Cayuga nations sided with the British. Members of the Mohawk fought on both sides. Many Tuscarora and Oneida sided with the colonists. The Continental Army sent the Sullivan Expedition on raids throughout New York to cripple the Iroquois tribes that had sided with the British. Both during and after the war friction between the Mohawk leaders Joseph Louis Cook and Joseph Brant, who had sided with the Americans and the British respectively, further exacerbated the split.
Early in July 1776, a major action in the fledgling conflict occurred when the Cherokee allies of Britain attacked the western frontier areas of North Carolina. Their defeat resulted in a splintering of the Cherokee towns and people, and was directly responsible for the rise of the Chickamauga Cherokee, bitter enemies of the Colonials who carried on a frontier war for decades following the end of hostilities with Britain.
Creek and Seminole allies of Britain fought against Americans in Georgia and South Carolina. In 1778, a force of 800 Creeks destroyed American settlements along the Broad River in Georgia. Creek warriors also joined Thomas Brown's raids into South Carolina and assisted Britain during the Siege of Savannah. Many Native Americans were involved in the fighting between Britain and Spain on the Gulf Coast and up the Mississippi River—mostly on the British side. Thousands of Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws fought in or near major battles such as the Battle of Fort Charlotte, the Battle of Mobile, and the Siege of Pensacola.
Race and class
Pybus (2005) estimates that about 20,000 slaves defected to or were captured by the British, of whom about 8,000 died from disease or wounds or were recaptured by the Patriots. The British took along some 12,000 at the end of the war; of these 8000 remained in slavery. Including those who left during the war, a total of about 8000 to 10,000 ex-slaves gained freedom. About 4000 freed slaves went to Nova Scotia along with about 1200 blacks who remained slaves.
Baller (2006) examines family dynamics and mobilization for the Revolution in central Massachusetts. He reports that warfare and the farming culture were sometimes incompatible. Militiamen found that living and working on the family farm had not prepared them for wartime marches and the rigors of camp life. Rugged individualism conflicted with military discipline and regimentation. A man's birth order often influenced his military recruitment, as younger sons went to war and older sons took charge of the farm. A person's family responsibilities and the prevalent patriarchy could impede mobilization. Harvesting duties and family emergencies pulled men home regardless of the sergeant's orders. Some relatives might be Loyalists, creating internal strains. On the whole, historians conclude the Revolution's effect on patriarchy and inheritance patterns favored egalitarianism.
McDonnell (2006) shows a grave complication in Virginia's mobilization of troops was the conflicting interests of distinct social classes, which tended to undercut a unified commitment to the Patriot cause. The Assembly balanced the competing demands of elite slave-owning planters, the middling yeomen (some owning a few slaves), and landless indentured servants, among other groups. The Assembly used deferments, taxes, military service substitute, and conscription to resolve the tensions. Unresolved class conflict, however, made these laws less effective. There were violent protests, many cases of evasion, and large-scale desertion, so that Virginia's contributions came at embarrassingly low levels. With the British invasion of the state in 1781, Virginia was mired in class division as its native son, George Washington, made desperate appeals for troops.
Costs of the War
Americans and allies
The total loss of life throughout the war is largely unknown. As was typical in the wars of the era, disease claimed far more lives than battle. Between 1775 and 1782 a smallpox epidemic swept across North America, killing 40 people in Boston alone. Historian Joseph Ellis suggests that Washington's decision to have his troops inoculated against the smallpox epidemic was one of his most important decisions.
At least 25,000 American Patriots died during active military service. About 6,800 of these deaths were in battle; the other 17,000 recorded deaths were from disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died of starvation or disease brought on by deplorable conditions while prisoners of war, most in rotting British prison ships in New York. Another estimate, however, puts the total death toll at around 70,000, which if true would make the conflict proportionately deadlier than the American Civil War. The uncertainty arises from the number of disease deaths, which were believed to be quite numerous, amounting to an estimated 10,000 in 1776 alone. The number of Patriots seriously wounded or disabled by the war has been estimated from 8,500 to 25,000. Proportionate to the population of the colonies, the Revolutionary War was at least the second-deadliest conflict in American history, ranking ahead of World War II and behind only the Civil War.
British and allies
In 1784, a British lieutenant compiled a detailed list of 205 British officers killed in action during the war, including deaths in Europe, the Caribbean, and the East Indies. An extrapolation based on this list puts British Army losses at some 4,000 killed and died of wounds. A table from 1781 puts total British Army deaths at 6,046 in North America (from 1775 to 1779) and 3,326 in the West Indies (from 1778 to 1780). Approximately 1,800 Germans were killed in combat out of a total of 7,774 deaths. British returns in 1783 listed 43,633 rank and file deaths "in the British service".
About 171,000 sailors served in the Royal Navy during the war; about a quarter had been pressed into service. About 1,240 were killed in battle, while 18,500 died from disease (figures from 1776 to 1780 only). The greatest killer was scurvy, a disease that had been shown to be preventable by issuing lemon or lime juice to sailors but was not taken seriously. Scurvy would be eradicated in the Royal Navy in the 1790s by the chairman of the Navy's Sick and Hurt Board, Gilbert Blane. About 42,000 British sailors deserted during the war.
The British spent about £80 million and ended with a national debt of £250 million, which it easily financed at about £9.5 million a year in interest. The French spent 1.3 billion livres (about £56 million). Their total national debt was £187 million, which they could not easily finance; over half the French national revenue went to debt service in the 1780s. The debt crisis became a major factor of the French Revolution as the government could not raise taxes without public approval. The United States spent $37 million at the national level plus $114 million by the states. This was mostly covered by loans from France and the Netherlands, loans from Americans, and issuance of an increasing amount of paper money (which became "not worth a continental"). The U.S. finally solved its debt and currency problems in the 1790s when Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton secured legislation by which the national government assumed all of the state debts, and in addition created a national bank and a funding system based on tariffs and bond issues that paid off the foreign debts.
- Bibliography of the American Revolutionary War
- Bibliography of George Washington
- Conrad Heyer
- Diplomacy in the American Revolutionary War
- British Army during the American War of Independence
- First Treaty of San Ildefonso
- First League of Armed Neutrality
- Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
- George Washington in the American Revolution
- Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War
- Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War
- Lemuel Cook
- List of American Revolutionary War battles
- List of British Forces in the American Revolutionary War
- List of Continental Forces in the American Revolutionary War
- List of plays and films about the American Revolution
- List of revolutions and rebellions
- This article primarily refers to the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies who supported the American Revolution as "Americans", with occasional references to "Patriots" or "Revolutionaries". Colonists who supported the British and opposed the Revolution are referred to as "Loyalists" or "Tories". The geographical area of the thirteen colonies is often referred to simply as "America".
== References ==.
- (before 1776)
- (after 1776)
- (from 1777)
- (from 1778)
- Though the historical term 'French Empire' more colloquially refers to the empire under Napoleon, the term is used here for brevity's sake to refer to France proper, and the colonial empire that the Kingdom of France ruled
- (from 1779)
- Oneida, Tuscarora, Catawba, Lenape, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Mahican, Mi'kmaq (until 1779), Abenaki, Cheraw, Seminole, Pee Dee, Lumbee, Watauga Association
- Hanover supplied troops as per Personal union treaty, not as mercenaries
- Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Mi'kmaq (from 1779), Cherokee, Odawa, Muscogee, Susquehannock, Shawnee
- A cease-fire in America was proclaimed by Congress on April 11, 1783, pursuant to a cease-fire agreement between Great Britain and France on January 20, 1783. The final peace treaty was signed on September 3, 1783, and ratified on January 14, 1784, in the U.S., with final ratification exchanged in Europe on May 12, 1784. Hostilities in India continued until July 1783.
- Jaques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: F-O. p. 720. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Jaques (2007), p. 666
- Spain failed in its primary war aim of recovering Gibraltar, whilst the French naval defeat at the Saintes, and the Spanish defeat at Cape St Vincent, precluded any major invasions of the British West Indies, as well as any invasion of mainland Britain due to revived British naval dominance
- Syrett 2006, p. 105.
- Chartrand & Courcelle 2006, p. 86.
- Black, Jeremy (1999). Warfare in the Eighteenth Century. London: Cassell. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-304-35245-6.
- Valin p. 58
- Duncan, Louis C. MEDICAL MEN IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (1931).
- Michael Lanning (2009). American Revolution 100: The Battles, People, and Events of the American War for Independence, Ranked by Their Significance. Sourcebooks. pp. 195–96.
- Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole. A Companion to the American Revolution (Wiley-Blackwell, 2003), p. 328.
- "Privateers or Merchant Mariners help win the Revolutionary War". Usmm.org. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- John Pike (October 18, 1907). "Privateers". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
- Jonathan Dull, A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (Yale University Press, 1985), p. 110.
- "Red Coats Facts – British Soldiers in the American Revolution". totallyhistory.com.
- "The British Army 1775—1783" (PDF). orbat. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Winfield, Rif, British Warships in the Age of Sail: 1714-1792 (Seaforth Publishing, 2007) ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6
- Winfield, Rif, British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Seaforth Publishing, 2007)
- Mackesy (1964), pp. 6, 176 (British seamen).
- Savas and Dameron (2006), p. xli
- A. J. Berry, A Time of Terror (2006) p. 252
- Greene and Pole (1999), p. 393; Boatner (1974), p. 545.
- Howard H. Peckham, ed., The Toll of Independence: Engagements and Battle Casualties of the American Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974).
- American dead and wounded: Shy, pp. 249–50. The lower figure for number of wounded comes from Chambers, p. 849.
- "Spanish casualties in The American Revolutionary war.". Necrometrics.
- "Eighteenth Century Death Tolls". necrometrics.com. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Parliamentary Register (1781), p. 269.
- Modern British writers generally favor "American War of Independence", rather than "American Rebellion" or "War of American Independence". "National Curriculum England". Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- The thirteenth colony was Georgia, which joined later[when?].
- Brooks, Richard (editor). Atlas of World Military History. HarperCollins, 2000, p. 101 "Washington's success in keeping the army together deprived the British of victory, but French intervention won the war."
- Pestana, Carla Gardina (2004). The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution: 1640-1661. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press. p. 120.
- Purvis, Thomas L. (23 April 1997). A dictionary of American history. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 278. ISBN 978-1-57718-099-9. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Whaples, Robert (March 1995). "Where Is There Consensus Among American Economic Historians? The Results of a Survey on Forty Propositions". The Journal of Economic History. Cambridge University Press. 55 (1): 140. doi:10.1017/S0022050700040602. JSTOR 2123771 – via JSTOR. (Registration required (. ))
- Thomas, Robert P. (1964). "A Quantitative Approach to the Study of the Effects of British Imperial Policy of Colonial Welfare: Some Preliminary Findings". Journal of Economic History. 25 (4): 615–638. JSTOR 2116133.
- Walton, Gary M. (1971). "The New Economic History and the Burdens of the Navigation Acts". Economic History Review. 24 (4): 533–542. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1971.tb00192.x.
- Lepore (1998), The Name of War (1999) pp 5-7
- Curtis P. Nettels, The Roots of American Civilization: A History of American Colonial Life (1938) p. 297.
- Lovejoy, David (1987). The Glorious Revolution in America. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-6177-0. OCLC 14212813., pp. 148–56, 155-57, 169-70
- Lovejoy, pp. 180, 192–93, 197
- Barnes, Viola Florence (1960) . The Dominion of New England: A Study in British Colonial Policy. New York: Frederick Ungar. ISBN 978-0-8044-1065-6. OCLC 395292., pp. 169–70
- Webb, Stephen Saunders (1998). Lord Churchill's Coup: The Anglo-American Empire and the Glorious Revolution Reconsidered. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0558-4. OCLC 39756272., pp. 190–91
- Lustig, Mary Lou (2002). The Imperial Executive in America: Sir Edmund Andros, 1637–1714. Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3936-8. OCLC 470360764., p. 201
- Palfrey, John (1864). History of New England: History of New England During the Stuart Dynasty. Boston: Little, Brown. OCLC 1658888., p. 596
- Evans, James Truslow (1922). The Founding of New England. Boston: The Atlantic Monthly Press. OCLC 1068441., p. 430
- John A. Garraty; Mark C. Carnes (2000). "Chapter Three: America in the British Empire". A Short History of the American Nation (8th ed.). Longman. ISBN 0-321-07098-4.
- Max Savelle, Empires to Nations: Expansion in America, 1713-1824, p.93 (1974)
- Draper pg. 100. The quote provided by Draper came from Leo Francis Stock’s Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments respecting North America (1937) vol. 4. pg. 182
- Miller, John C. (1943). Origins of the American Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown and company., pp. 95-99
- Guizot, M. A popular history of France, from the earliest times. Vol IV, University of Michigan, 2005, ISBN 978-1-4255-5724-9, p.166.
- Debt & Taxes, John Makim & Norman Ornstein P.54
- Spain & the Independence of the United States; An Intrinsic Gift. Thomas E, Chavez P.22
- Gladney, Henry M. (2014). No Taxation without Representation: 1768 Petition, Memorial, and Remonstrance (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 13, 2015.
- Liberty and Property: Political Ideology in Eighteenth-century Britain - H. T. Dickinson - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1977. p. 218. ISBN 9780416729306. Retrieved 2015-01-07.
- Charles Howard McIlwain (1938). The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation. p. 51.
- Paul Boyer; et al. (2014). The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Cengage Learning. p. 142.
- Knollenberg, Growth, 48; Thomas, Duties Crisis, 76
- Knollenberg, Growth, 69
- "What was the Boston Massacre?". Boston Massacre Society.
-  The only other testimony from a colonial is Aaron Biggs (sometimes Briggs) who told a slightly different version of the story, but Governor Wanton took pains to discredit his telling of the events (Bartlett, John Russell. A History of the Destruction of His Britannic Majesty's Schooner Gaspee, In Narragansett Bay, On the 10th of June 1772 (Providence, RI.: A. Crawford Greene, 1861), pp. 84–87). We also have the testimony of several mariners from the crew and officers of the Gaspee. They report a much larger number of attackers and many more boats.
- "Boston Tea Party". History.com.
- Young, Shoemaker, 183–85.
- UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)", MeasuringWorth.com.
- Alexander, Revolutionary Politician, 125–26; Labaree, Tea Party, 141–44.
- Ian R. Christie and Benjamin W. Labaree, Empire or Independence, 1760–1776 (New York: Norton, 1976) p. 188.
- Ammerman, David (1974). In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Acts of 1774. New York: Norton., p. 9
- Ammerman, In the Common Cause, 10
- Ammerman, In the Common Cause, 15.
- Gary B. Nash; Carter Smith (2007). Atlas Of American History. Infobase Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9781438130132.
- Peter Knight (2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 184–85. ISBN 9781576078129.
- Georgia did not attend
- Ferling, John. (2003). A Leap in the Dark. Oxford University Press. p. 112.
- Kindig, Thomas E. (1995). "Galloway's Plan for the Union of Great Britain and the Colonies". Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: Independence Hall Association, publishing electronically as ushistory.org. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
The plan was considered very attractive to most of the members, as it proposed a popularly elected Grand Council which would represent the interests of the colonies as a whole, and would be a continental equivalent to the English Parliament. After a sincere debate, it was rejected by a six to five vote on October 22, 1774. It may have been the arrival of the Suffolk County (Boston) resolutions that killed it.
- Kramnick, Isaac (ed); Thomas Paine (1982). Common Sense. Penguin Classics. p. 21.
- "Resolved, 4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council: and as the English colonists are not represented, and from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed: But, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British parliament, as are bonfide, restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members; excluding every idea of taxation internal or external, for raising a revenue on the subjects, in America, without their consent." quoted from the Declarations and Resolves of the First Continental Congress October 14, 1774.
- Kramnick, Isaac (ed); Thomas Paine (1982). Common Sense. Penguin Classics. p. 21.
- Cogliano, Francis D. Revolutionary America, 1763–1815: A Political History. Routledge, 1999. pp. 47
- Cogliano, Revolutionary America, 47–48
- Alan Axelrod, The Real History of the American Revolution: A New Look at the Past, p. 83
- Fischer, p. 76
- Chidsey, p. 6. This is the total size of Smith's force.
- Fischer, p. 85
- Coburn, p. 64. This force is six light infantry companies under Pitcairn.
- The exact number of militia on the Lexington common when the clash occurred is a matter of debate. Coburn, p. 165–67, identifies 77 individuals by name who mustered for the encounter, but he also notes that no official roll was ever submitted to the Provincial Congress. Fischer, pp. 400, 183, cites contemporaneous accounts and those of other historians that put the number between 50 and 70 militia, but notes that Sylvanus Wood, in an account taken 50 years later, recalled only counting 38 militia.
- Chidsey, p. 29, estimates the colonial force at 500 by the time the confrontation occurred at the North Bridge. Coburn, pp. 80–81, counts about 300 specifically, plus several uncounted companies.
- Coburn, p. 114 gives the size of Percy's force at 1,000. This count reflects that estimate plus the departing strength, less casualties.
- David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere's Ride (1994), Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the campaign.
- Ketchum, pp. 18,54
- Frothingham, pp. 100–101
- Ketchum, pp. 2–9
- French, p. 251
- Ketchum pp. 110–111
- Adams, Charles Francis, "The Battle of Bunker Hill", in American Historical Review (1895–1896), pp. 401–13.
- Higginbotham (1983), pp. 75–77.
- Ketchum, p. 183
- Ketchum, pp. 198-209
- Hugh F. Rankin, ed. (1987). Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolution Through the Eyes of Those who Fought and Lived it. Da Capo Press. p. 63.
- Chidsey, p. 113
- Lecky, William Edward Hartpole, A History of England in the Eighteenth CentuIry (1882), pp. 449–50.
- Smith, pp. 57–58
- McCullough, p.53
- John R. Alden (1989). A History of the American Revolution. Da Capo Press. pp. 188–90.
- Smith (1907), vol 1, p. 293
- Glatthaar (2006), p. 91
- Glatthaar (2006), p. 93
- Quebec was officially ceded in 1763
- Smith (1907), vol 1, p. 242
- Gabriel, Michael P. (2002). Major General Richard Montgomery: The Making of an American Hero. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3931-3., p. 141
- Mark R. Anderson, The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America's War of Liberation in Canada, 1774–1776 (University Press of New England; 2013).
- Smith (1907), vol 1, p. 474
- Smith (1907), vol 1, pp. 487–490
- Alden, The American Revolution (1954) p. 206
- Willard Sterne Randall, "Benedict Arnold at Quebec", MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History, Summer 1990, Vol. 2, Issue 4, pp 38–49.
- Davies, Blodwen (1951). Quebec: Portrait of a Province. Greenberg. p. 32.Carleton's men had won a quick and decisive victory
- Lanctot (1967), pp. 141–146
- Thomas A. Desjardin, Through a Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec, 1775 (2006).
- Stanley, pp. 127–128
- Stanley, p. 134
- Morrissey, p. 87
- Watson (1960), p. 203.
- Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Benedict Arnold's Army: The 1775 American Invasion of Canada during the Revolutionary War (2007).
- Smith (1907), volume 2, pp. 459–552
- Selby, John E; Higginbotham, Don (2007). The Revolution in Virginia, 1775–1783. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. ISBN 978-0-87935-233-2. OCLC 124076712., p. 1
- Selby and Higginbotham, p. 1
- Russell, p. 52
- Selby and Higginbotham, p. 2
- Levy, Andrew (Jan 9, 2007). The First Emancipator: Slavery, Religion, and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Carter. Random House Trade Paperbacks. p. 74. ISBN 978-0375761041.
- Scribner, Robert L. (1983). Revolutionary Virginia, the Road to Independence. University of Virginia Press. pp. xxiv. ISBN 0-8139-0748-9.
- Kranish, Michael (2010). Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. New York: Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 9780195374629. OCLC 320524730., p. 79
- Russell, p. 73
- Alden, pp. 199–200
- Cann, Marvin (October 1975). Prelude to War: The First Battle of Ninety Six: November 19–21, 1775. The South Carolina Historical Quarterly. JSTOR 27567333., p. 204
- McCrady, Edward (1901). The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, Volume 3. New York: Macmillan. OCLC 10492792. , pp. 68–69
- McCrady, p. 89
- Landrum, John Belton O'Neall (1897). Colonial and Revolutionary History of Upper South Carolina. Greenville, SC: Shannon. OCLC 187392639., pp. 80–81
- Russell, p. 79
- Fryer, Mary Beacock (1987). Allan Maclean, Jacobite General: the Life of an Eighteenth Century Career Soldier. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55002-011-3. OCLC 16042453., p. 118
- Meyer, Duane (1987) . The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1732–1776. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-4199-0. OCLC 316095450., p. 142
- Wilson, David K (2005). The Southern Strategy: Britain's Conquest of South Carolina and Georgia, 1775–1780. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1-57003-573-3. OCLC 56951286., p. 33
- Russell, p. 85
- Hibbert, C: Rebels and Redcoats, p.106
- Bicheno, H: Rebels and Redcoats, p.154, 158
- R iley, Sandra; Peters, Thelma B (2000). Homeward Bound: A History of the Bahama Islands to 1850 with a Definitive Study of Abaco in the American Loyalist Plantation Period. Miami: Island Research. ISBN 978-0-9665310-2-2. OCLC 51540154., p. 100
- Field, Edward (1898). Esek Hopkins, commander-in-chief of the continental navy during the American Revolution, 1775 to 1778. Providence: Preston & Rounds. OCLC 3430958., p. 104
- Field, pp. 108–113
- Field, pp. 100–102
- McCusker, John J (1997). Essays in the economic history of the Atlantic world. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16841-0. OCLC 470415294., p. 185-187
- Riley, pp. 101-102
- Field, pp. 117-118
- Field, pp. 120–125
- "DECLARATION OF TAKING UP ARMS: RESOLUTIONS OF THE SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS". Constitution Society. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Ketchum, p.211
- Maier, American Scripture, 25. The text of the 1775 king's speech is online, published by the American Memory project.
- Ketchum, pp. 208–209
- Frothingham (1903), p. 298
- John C. Miller (1959). Origins of the American Revolution. Stanford UP. pp. 410–12.
- Scheer, p. 64
- "The March of the Guards to Finchley; 18th Century Recruitment". Umich education.
- David Smith (2012). New York 1776: The Continentals' First Battle. Osprey Publishing. pp. 21–23.
- Ira D. Gruber, "Lord Howe and Lord George Germain, British Politics and the Winning of American Independence." William and Mary Quarterly (1965): 225–243. in JSTOR
- "Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, The Men who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale UP, 2013).
- Frank A. Biletz (2013). Historical Dictionary of Ireland. Scarecrow Press. p. 8.
- Vincent Morley (2002). Irish Opinion and the American Revolution, 1760–1783. Cambridge UP. pp. 154–57.
- Lecky. A History of England. pp. 162–65.
- Middlekauff, Glorious Cause, 168; Ferling, Leap in the Dark, 123–24.
- Maier, American Scripture, 25
- Christie and Labaree, Empire or Independence, 270; Maier, American Scripture, 31–32.
- Maier, American Scripture, 33–34
- Maier, American Scripture, 59
- Jensen, Founding, 671; Friedenwald, Interpretation, 78
- Maier, American Scripture, 37; Jensen, Founding, 684. For the full text of the May 15 preamble see the Journals of the Continental Congress.
- Boyd, Evolution, 18; Maier, American Scripture, 63. The text of the May 15 Virginia resolution is online at Yale Law School's Avalon Project.
- Boyd, Evolution, 22
- Ferling (2000), pp. 1331-137
- Burnett, Edward Cody. The Continental Congress. New York: Norton, 1941., p. 181
- Jensen, Founding, 699
- Maier, American Scripture, 45
- Boyd, Evolution, 19
- Maier, American Scripture, 160–61
- Fischer (2004), p. 29.
- Maier, American Scripture, 156–57
- Jessup, John J. (September 20, 1943). "America and the Future". Life: 105. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- Encyclopedia of the American Revolution Mark M. Botner III, (1974) P. 1094.
- Liberty's Exiles; American Loyalists & the Revolutionary World. Maya Jasanoff (2011)
- The American Revolution; Colin Bonwick (1991) P.152
- Encyclopedia of American History. Richard B. Morris and Jeffrey B. Morris, eds., 6th Edition (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1982), p. 130.
- Flight of the Tories from the Republic, The Tories of the American Revolution. North Callahan (1967) P. 120.
- Land confiscation Records of north Carolina – Vol.1 (1779–1800) Stewart Dunaway P.9
- Schecter, pp. 60–90
- Fischer, pp. 76–78
- Lengel, Edward (2005). General George Washington. New York: Random House Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-8129-6950-4. OCLC 255642134., p. 135
- Fischer, pp. 89,381
- Ketchum (1973), p. 94
- Ketchum (1973), p. 104
- Ketchum (1973), p. 104
- Adams, Charles Francis, "Battle of Long Island", in American Historical Review (1895–1896), pp. 668–669.
- Adams, Charles Francis, "Battle of Long Island", in American Historical Review (1895–1896), p. 657.
- Fischer, pp. 88–102
- Ketchum (1973), p. 117
- Thomas J. McGuire (2011). Stop the Revolution: America in the Summer of Independence and the Conference for Peace. Stackpole Books. pp. 165–66.
- Fischer, pp. 102–107
- John Richard Alden, The American Revolution, 1775–1783 (1954), ch. 7.
- Fischer (2004), pp. 102–11.
- Barnet Schecter, The battle for New York: The city at the heart of the American Revolution (2002).
- Ketchum p.130
- Ketchum p.111-"The most disastrous defeat of the entire war"
- Fischer, pp. 109–125
- Ridpath, John Clark (1915). The new complete history of the United States of America, Volume 6. Cincinnati: Jones Brothers. OCLC 2140537., p. 2531
- David McCullough (2006). 1776. p. 122.
- Stedman, Charles, The History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War Volume I (1794), p. 221.
- Larry Lowenthal, Hell on the East River: British Prison Ships in the American Revolution (2009).
- Stedman, Charles, The History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War Volume I (1794), p. 223.
- Mary Tucker (March 1, 2002). Washington Crossing the Delaware. Lorenz Educational Press. pp. 22–23.
- Fischer, p. 140
- Schecter, pp. 266–267
- Fischer, pp. 138–142
- Fischer, p. 150
- Encyclopedia of American History. Richard B. Morris and Jeffrey B. Morris, eds., 6th Edition (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1982), p. 130.
- Lundin, Leonard (1972) . Cockpit of the Revolution: the war for independence in New Jersey. New York: Octagon Books. ISBN 0-374-95143-8., pp. 403
- McCullough 2006, p. 195.
- Lecky. A History of England. pp. 70–78.
- Ketchum (1973), p. 269
- Ketchum (1973), p. 191
- Charles Francis Adams, "The Battle of Long Island," American Historical Review Vol. 1, No. 4 (Jul. 1896), pp. 650-670 in JSTOR
- Schecter, pp. 259–263
- Stedman, Charles, The History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War Volume I (1794), pp. 224–25.
- Fischer, pp. 182–190
- Fischer p. 254—Casualty numbers vary slightly with the Hessian forces, usually between 21–23 killed, 80–95 wounded and 890–920 captured (including the wounded), but it is generally agreed that the casualties were in this area.
- Fischer (2004), pp. 206–59.
- Wood, W. J (1995). Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80617-7. ISBN 0-306-81329-7 (2003 paperback reprint), p. 72-74
- Ketchum p. 286
- Fischer p. 307
- Fischer (2004), pp. 277–343.
- Schecter, p. 268
- McCullough p. 290
- Ketchum (1973), pp. 388–389
- McCullough p. 290
- Lengel p. 208
- McCullough p. 290
- Fischer p. 342
- Fischer (2004), pp. 345–58.
- Lecky, William, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century, Vol. IV (1891), p. 57.
- John Martin Carroll; Colin F. Baxter (2007). The American Military Tradition: From Colonial Times to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 14.
- Ketchum (1997), p. 84
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 79–84
- Nickerson (1967), p. 78
- Ketchum, Saratoga (1999), p. 81
- Black (1991), p. 127
- Martin, p. 11
- Martin, p. 15
- John E. Ferling, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington (2010) p.
- Alden, The American Revolution (1954) p. 118
- Samuel B. Griffith, The War for American Independence: From 1760 to the Surrender at Yorktown in 1781
- Ketchum (1997), p. 104
- Martin, p. 11
- Fisher, Sydney George. The Struggle for American Independence Vol. II (1908) pp. 73–74
- Black, Jeremy (1991). War for America: The Fight for Independence, 1775–1783. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-06713-5., p. 126
- Nickerson (1967), p. 137
- Pancake, John S (1977). 1777: The Year of the Hangman. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0-8173-5112-0. OCLC 2680804., p. 139
- Nickerson (1967), p. 139
- Pancake (1977), pp. 151–152
- Ketchum (1997), p. 84.
- Nickerson (1967), p. 104
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 136–137
- Pancake (1977), p.125
- Ketchum (1997), p. 356
- Smith (1882), p. 95
- Nickerson (1967), pp. 146–157, 438
- Ketchum (1997), p. 244
- Ketchum (1997), p. 249
- Pancake (1977), p.140
- Pancake (1977), p. 142
- Pancake (1977), p. 145
- Nickerson (1967), pp. 271–275
- Ketchum (1997), p. 283
- Nickerson (1967), p.247
- Gabriel, Michael P. (2012). The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers and Civilians. The History Press. ISBN 978-1609495152.
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 285–323.
- Nickerson (1967), pp. 296.
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 337–378.
- Nickerson (1967), pp. 343–405.
- Nickerson (1967), pp. 327.
- Luzader, John F. Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution. New York: Savas Beatie. ISBN 978-1-932714-44-9. pp. 249.
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 403–425.
- Edmund Morgan, The Birth of the Republic: 1763–1789 (1956) pp 82–83
- Higginbotham (1983), pp. 188–98
- Stedman, Charles, The History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War Volume I (1794), pp. 287–89.
- Adams, Charles Francis. Campaign of 1777 Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 44 (1910–11) pp. 25–26
- Higginbotham, The War of American Independence, pp. 181–86
- Adams, Charles Francis. "Campaign of 1777", Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. 44 (1910–11), p. 43.
- Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution. (2 volumes. New York: Macmillan, 1952.) History of land battles in North America., p. 362
- Stephen R. Taaffe, The Philadelphia Campaign, 1777–1778 (2003), pp. 95–100 except and text search.
- Rose, Michael (2007), Washington's War: From Independence to Iraq, , Retrieved on May 24, 2017
- McGuire, 207-208
- Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-24913-1., p. 149
- Ward, p. 377
- Higginbotham, The War of American Independence, pp. 186–88
- McGuire, p. 254
- Cadwalader, Richard McCall (1901). Observance of the One Hundred and Twenty-third Anniversary of the Evacuation of Philadelphia by the British Army. Fort Washington and the Encampment of White Marsh, November 2, 1777:. pp. 20–28. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Freedman, 2008, p. 1-30
- Higginbotham, The War of American Independence, pp. 216–25
- Noel Fairchild Busch, Winter Quarters: George Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge (Liveright, 1974).
- "A Concluding Commentary" Supplying Washington's Army (1981).
- "The Winning of Independence, 1777–1783" American Military History Volume I (2005).
- Paul Douglas Lockhart, The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army (2008).
- Frances H. Kennedy (2014). The American Revolution: A Historical Guidebook. Oxford UP. p. 163.
- Gaines, James R. For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette and their Revolutions. W.W. Norton & Co, 2007., p.109
- Text incorporated from Valley Forge National Historical Park website, which is in the public domain.
- Freedman, 2008, p. 70-83
- "Springfield Armory". Nps.gov. April 25, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- Perkins, James Breck, France In The Revolution (1911).
- Corwin, Edward Samuel, French Policy and the American Alliance (1916), pp. 121–48.
- E. Chavez, Thomas (1997). Spain's Support Vital to United States Independence, 1777–1783. United States. Dept. of Defense. pp. United States.
- Sparks, 1:408.
- Jonathan R. Dull, A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1987), ch. 7–9.
- Terry M. Mays (2009). Historical Dictionary of the American Revolution. Scarecrow Press. p. 7.
- John Ferling (2007). Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. Oxford UP. p. 294.
- Trevelyan (1912), vol. 1, p. 4.
- Trevelyan (1912), vol. 1, p. 5.
- John Ferling (2007). Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. Oxford UP. pp. 294–95.
- Higginbotham (1983), pp. 175–88.
- "The Winning of Independence 1777–1783", American Military History, Volume 1 (2005).
- Colin Gordon Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country (1995).
- Lowell Hayes Harrison, George Rogers Clark and the War in the West (2001).
- Henry Lumpkin, From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South (2000).
- John W. Gordon and John Keegan, South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History (2007).
- Hugh F. Rankin, North Carolina in the American Revolution (1996).
- Lumpkin, From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South (2000).
- Michael Cecere, Great Things are Expected from the Virginians: Virginia in the American Revolution (2009).
- Middleton, Richard (2014). "Naval Resources and the British Defeat at Yorktown, 1781". The Mariner's Mirror. 100 (1): 29–43. doi:10.1080/00253359.2014.866373.
- Richard Ferrie, The World Turned Upside Down: George Washington and the Battle of Yorktown (1999).
- Mackesy, p. 435.
- "Privateers or Merchant Mariners help win the Revolutionary War". Usmm.org. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- John Pike (October 18, 1907). "Privateers". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- Higginbotham (1983), pp. 331–46.
- Lewis, Charles (June 15, 2014). Admiral De Grasse and American Independence. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-61251-473-4.
- Heintze, "A Chronology of Notable Fourth of July Celebration Occurrences".
- Riddick (2006), pp. 23–25.
- Fletcher (1909), pp. 155–58.
- Edler (1911), pp. 37–38, 42–62; The American trade via St. Eustatius was very substantial. In 1779 more than 12,000 hogsheads of tobacco and 1.5 million ounces of indigo were shipped from the Colonies to the island in exchange for naval supplies and other goods; Edler, p. 62
- Edler (1911), pp. 95–173.
- Edler (1911), pp. 233–46.
- Richard Morris, The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence (1983).
- Benn (1993), p. 17.
- Dwight L. Smith, "A North American Neutral Indian Zone: Persistence of a British Idea" Northwest Ohio Quarterly 1989 61(2–4): 46–63.
- Francis M. Carroll (2001). A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783–1842. U of Toronto Press. p. 24.
- Lawrence S. Kaplan, "The Treaty of Paris, 1783: A Historiographical Challenge", International History Review, September 1983, Vol. 5, Issue 3, pp 431–42.
- Mulhall, Michael G., Mulhall's Dictionary of Statistics (1884), p. 357.
- Colonial and Pre-Federal Statistics U.S. Census Bureau.
- Tyler, Moses. The Literary History of the American Revolution Vol. I (1897), p. 399.
- Lecky, William. A History of England in the Eighteenth Century Vol. IV (1891), p. 287.
- Perkins, James Breck France in the Revolution (1911).
- John E. Ferling, Almost A Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence (2009), pp. 562–77.
- Joseph J. Ellis (2013). Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence. Random House.
- Richard W. Stewart, ed., American Military History Volume 1 The United States Army And The Forging Of A Nation, 1775–1917" (2005) ch 4 "The Winning of Independence, 1777–1783" (2005), p. 103.
- Pole and Greene, eds. Companion to the American Revolution, ch. 36–39.
- Michael Lanning (2009). American Revolution 100: The Battles, People, and Events of the American War for Independence, Ranked by Their Significance. Sourcebooks. pp. 195–96.
- Trevelyan, p. 249.
- Ketchum (1997), pp. 405–48.
- Philander D. Chase. "Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm von"; American National Biography Online (2000). Accessed January 29, 2015.
- Black (2001), p. 59. On militia see Boatner (1974), p. 707, and Weigley (1973), ch. 2.
- Crocker (2006), p. 51.
- Boatner (1974), p. 264 says the largest force Washington commanded was "under 17,000"; Duffy (1987), p. 17, estimates Washington's maximum was "only 13,000 troops".
- Greene and Pole (1999), p. 235.
- Savas and Dameron (2006), p. xli.
- Black (2001), p. 12.
- Black (2001), p. 13–14.
- Black (2001), p. 14.
- Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Vol. I (1864) p. 48; Sabine adds they were certainly wrong.
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1891). A History of England: In the Eighteenth Century. p. 139.
- On the top leaders see Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale University Press, 2013).
- Michael Lanning (2009). American Revolution 100: The Battles, People, and Events of the American War for Independence, Ranked by Their Significance. Sourcebooks. pp. 193–96.
- Black (2001), p. 39; Greene and Pole (1999), pp. 298, 306.
- Edward E. Curtis, The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution (Yale U.P. 1926) ch 1 online.
- Curtis, The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution, ch. 4.
- Curtis, The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution, ch. 3.
- Higginbotham (1983), pp. 298, 306; Black (2001), pp. 29, 42.
- Black (2001), pp. 14–16 (Harsh methods), pp. 35, 38 (slaves and Indians), p. 16 (neutrals into revolutionaries).
- Ketchum (1997), p. 76.
- Ketchum (1997), p. 77.
- Ingrao, Charles. "" Barbarous Strangers": Hessian State and Society during the American Revolution." American Historical Review (1982): 954–976. in JSTOR.
- Black (2001), pp. 27–29; Boatner (1974), pp. 424–26.
- Morrissey (2004), pp. 20, 21.
- The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Army (1994), p. 122–23.
- Kaplan and Kaplan (1989), pp. 64–69.
- Leslie Alexander (2010). Encyclopedia of African American History. ABC-CLIO. p. 356.
- Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619–1877, New York: Hill and Wang, 1994, p. 73
- Kolchin, p.73
- William Weir (2004). The Encyclopedia of African American Military History. Prometheus Books. pp. 31–32.
- Cassadra Pybus, "Jefferson's Faulty Math: the Question of Slave Defections in the American Revolution", William and Mary Quarterly (2005) 62#2 pp: 243–264. in JSTOR
- Greene and Pole (1999), p. 393; Boatner (1974), p. 545.
- John Finger, Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2001), pp. 43–64.
- Ward, Harry M. (1999). The war for independence and the transformation of American society. Psychology Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-85728-656-4. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- O'Brien, Greg (April 30, 2008). Pre-removal Choctaw history: exploring new paths. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 123–126. ISBN 978-0-8061-3916-6. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- Cassandra Pybus, "Jefferson's Faulty Math: the Question of Slave Defections in the American Revolution", William and Mary Quarterly 2005 62#2: 243–264.
- John N. Grant, "Black Immigrants into Nova Scotia, 1776–1815." Journal of Negro History (1973): 253–270. in JSTOR
- James W. St G. Walker, The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783–1870 (1992).
- William Baller, "Farm Families and the American Revolution," Journal of Family History (2006) 31(1): 28–44. ISSN 0363-1990. Fulltext: online in EBSCO.
- Michael A. McDonnell, "Class War: Class Struggles During the American Revolution in Virginia", William and Mary Quarterly 2006 63(2): 305–344. ISSN 0043-5597 Fulltext: online at History Cooperative.
- Ellis (2004), p. 87.
- Burrows, Edwin G. (Fall 2008). "Patriots or Terrorists". American Heritage. 58 (5). Archived from the original on March 23, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
- American dead and wounded: Shy, pp. 249–50. The lower figure for number of wounded comes from Chambers, p. 849.
- The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 27 (1903), p. 176.
- Parliamentary Register (1781), pp. 263–65.
- Annual Register, 1783 (1785), pp. 199–200.
- Mackesy (1964), pp. 6, 176 (British seamen).
- Robert Tombs and Isabelle Tombs (2006). That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present. Knopf Doubleday. p. 179.
- Tombs (2007), p. 179.
- David Kennedy; et al. (2011). The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Volume I: To 1877. Cengage Learning. p. 136.
- Black, Jeremy. War for America: The Fight for Independence, 1775–1783. 2001. Analysis from a noted British military historian.
- Benn, Carl. Historic Fort York, 1793–1993. Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd., 1993. ISBN 0-920474-79-9.
- Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. 1966; revised 1974. ISBN 0-8117-0578-1. Military topics, references many secondary sources.
- Chambers, John Whiteclay II, ed. in chief. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-507198-0.
- Conway, Stephen. The British Isles and the War of American Independence (2002) DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199254552.001.0001 online
- Crocker III, H. W. (2006). Don't Tread on Me. New York: Crown Forum. ISBN 978-1-4000-5363-6.
- Curtis, Edward E. The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution (Yale U.P. 1926) online
- Duffy, Christopher. The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 1715–1789 Routledge, 1987. ISBN 978-0-7102-1024-1.
- Edler, Friedrich. The Dutch Republic and The American Revolution. University Press of the Pacific, 1911, reprinted 2001. ISBN 0-89875-269-8.
- Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. (2004). ISBN 1-4000-4031-0.
- David Hackett Fischer. Washington's Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-517034-2.
- Fletcher, Charles Robert Leslie. An Introductory History of England: The Great European War, Volume 4. E.P. Dutton, 1909. OCLC 12063427.
- Greene, Jack P. and Pole, J.R., eds. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1991; reprint 1999. ISBN 1-55786-547-7. Collection of essays focused on political and social history.
- Gilbert, Alan. Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-226-29307-3.
- Higginbotham, Don. The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763–1789. Northeastern University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-930350-44-8. Overview of military topics; online in ACLS History E-book Project.
- Morrissey, Brendan. Monmouth Courthouse 1778: The Last Great Battle in the North. Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-772-7.
- Jensen, Merrill. The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution 1763–1776. (2004)
- Kaplan, Sidney and Emma Nogrady Kaplan. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Amherst, Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. ISBN 0-87023-663-6.
- Ketchum, Richard M. Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War. Henry Holt, 1997. ISBN 0-8050-4681-X.
- Mackesy, Piers. The War for America: 1775–1783. London, 1964. Reprinted University of Nebraska Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8032-8192-7. Highly regarded examination of British strategy and leadership.
- McCullough, David. 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
- Middleton, Richard, The War of American Independence, 1775–1783. London: Pearson, 2012. ISBN 978-0-582-22942-6
- Reynolds, Jr., William R. (2012). Andrew Pickens: South Carolina Patriot in the Revolutionary War. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6694-8.
- Riddick, John F. The History of British India: a Chronology. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. ISBN 978-0-313-32280-8.
- Savas, Theodore P. and Dameron, J. David. A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution. New York: Savas Beatie LLC, 2006. ISBN 1-932714-12-X.
- Schama, Simon. Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution, New York, NY: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006
- O'Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson. The Men who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale UP, 2014).
- Shy, John. A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976 (ISBN 0-19-502013-8); revised University of Michigan Press, 1990 (ISBN 0-472-06431-2). Collection of essays.
- Stephenson, Orlando W. "The Supply of Gunpowder in 1776", American Historical Review, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Jan. 1925), pp. 271–281 in JSTOR.
- Tombs, Robert and Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present Random House, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4000-4024-7.
- Trevelyan, George Otto. George the Third and Charles Fox: the concluding part of The American revolution Longmans, Green, 1912.
- Watson, J. Steven. The Reign of George III, 1760–1815. 1960. Standard history of British politics.
- Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War. Indiana University Press, 1977. ISBN 978-0-253-28029-9.
- Weintraub, Stanley. Iron Tears: America's Battle for Freedom, Britain's Quagmire: 1775–1783. New York: Free Press, 2005 (a division of Simon & Schuster). ISBN 0-7432-2687-9. An account of the British politics on the conduct of the war.
These are some of the standard works about the war in general that are not listed above; books about specific campaigns, battles, units, and individuals can be found in those articles.
- Billias, George Athan. George Washington's Generals and Opponents: Their Exploits and Leadership (1994) scholarly studies of key generals on each side.\
- Black, Jeremy. "Could the British Have Won the American War of Independence?." Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. (Fall 1996), Vol. 74 Issue 299, pp 145–154. online video lecture, uses Real Player
- Conway, Stephen. The War of American Independence 1775–1783. Publisher: E. Arnold, 1995. ISBN 0-340-62520-1. 280 pages.
- Lowell, Edward J. The Hessians in the Revolution Williamstown, Massachusetts, Corner House Publishers, 1970, Reprint
- Bancroft, George. History of the United States of America, from the discovery of the American continent. (1854–78), vol. 7–10.
- Bobrick, Benson. Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution. Penguin, 1998 (paperback reprint).
- Fremont-Barnes, Gregory, and Ryerson, Richard A., eds. The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War: A Political, Social, and Military History (ABC-CLIO, 2006) 5 volume paper and online editions; 1000 entries by 150 experts, covering all topics
- Frey, Sylvia R. The British Soldier in America: A Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period (University of Texas Press, 1981).
- Hibbert, Christopher. Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution through British Eyes. New York: Norton, 1990. ISBN 0-393-02895-X.
- Kwasny, Mark V. Washington's Partisan War, 1775–1783. Kent, Ohio: 1996. ISBN 0-87338-546-2. Militia warfare.
- Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789. Oxford University Press, 1984; revised 2005. ISBN 0-19-516247-1. online edition
- Savas, Theodore; J. David Dameron (2006). Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution. Savas Beatie. Contains a detailed listing of American, French, British, German, and Loyalist regiments; indicates when they were raised, the main battles, and what happened to them. Also includes the main warships on both sides, And all the important battles.
- Simms, Brendan. Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714–1783 (2008) 802 pp., detailed coverage of diplomacy from London viewpoint
- Symonds, Craig L. A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution (1989), newly drawn maps emphasizing the movement of military units
- Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution. (2 volumes. New York: Macmillan, 1952.) History of land battles in North America.
- Wood, W. J. Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781. ISBN 0-306-81329-7 (2003 paperback reprint). Analysis of tactics of a dozen battles, with emphasis on American military leadership.
- Men-at-Arms series: short (48pp), very well illustrated descriptions:
- Zlatich, Marko; Copeland, Peter. General Washington's Army (1): 1775–78 (1994)
- Zlatich, Marko. General Washington's Army (2): 1779–83 (1994)
- Chartrand, Rene. The French Army in the American War of Independence (1994)
- May, Robin. The British Army in North America 1775–1783 (1993)
- The Partisan in War, a treatise on light infantry tactics written by Colonel Andreas Emmerich in 1789.
|Look up American Revolutionary War in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to American Revolutionary War.|
- Liberty – The American Revolution from PBS
- American Revolutionary War 1775–1783 in the News
- Important battles of the American Revolutionary War
- Library of Congress Guide to the American Revolution
- Bibliographies of the War of American Independence http://wayback.archive.org/web/20151101171424/http://www.history.army.mil/reference/revbib/revwar.htm compiled by the United States Army Center of Military History
- Political bibliography from Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture