The American Revolutionary War, also known as the United States War of Independence, began in 1775 when there were growing conflicts between the British crown and the 13 North American colonies. The North American colonies wanted their freedom from the British colonial government. The colonies were subject to taxes and the laws of the British government. The colonists were fighting for the same rights that were granted to other British subjects. The colonists started to rebel and violence ensued with British soldiers. The major conflicts leading up to the war were the Boston Massacre in 1770 followed by Bostonians seeking revenge on British ships and dumping their tea into the Boston Harbor in 1773.
Key Points of the Revolutionary War
In September 1774, the First Continental Congress demanded the colonies' independence from the British crown and denounced taxation. They also declared the rights due to every citizen. The group was to meet again in May 1775, but violence ensued before then.
The Continental Army was formed and the first major battle occurred on June 17, 1775, known as The Battle of Bunker Hill. This battle was a victory for the British but that didn't stop the Continental Army.
In March 1776, the British army evacuated the city of New York and went to Canada. It was there the British planned their next attack on New York.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress, sitting in Philadelphia, approved the Declaration of Independence. This fueled the fire even further and the British sent in a large fleet of 34,000 troops, causing George Washington to leave the city.
In 1777, the British won battles of Fort Ticonderoga in New York and Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania. However, the Americans defeated Britain in the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, which was a turning point. France officially joined forces with the Americans to provide much-needed soldiers and financing.
The fighting went back and forth over the next six years with the Americans occupying most of the northern colonies and the British occupying the south. In November 1782, both sides signed preliminary peace terms in Paris and Britain declared it official on Sept. 3, 1783, known as the Treaty of Paris.
The Decision Makers of the War
George Washington was named the Commander-in-Chief of the American forces and led the Continental Army. Horatio Gates led a large army to defeat the British in the Battle of Saratoga, but then disgraced the army during the Battle of Camden. It was here that he left the front lines and fled. This led to him being relieved of his command and going down as a coward in the history books.
William Howe was a general for the British army; once the American Revolutionary War was underway, he was named Commander-in-Chief. Charles Cornwallis led the British troops to several victories in the early years of the American Revolutionary War. His forces were eventually defeated in the Battle of Yorktown and surrendered to George Washington.Learn more about US History