The American Revolution
• How was it that the American Patriots gained
independence from the British Empire?
Early years of the war
• The idea of separation was controversial. 2030% stayed as Loyalists. 40-45% were for
Separation (patriots) The rest were neutral
(didn’t pick sides)
• June 1775 George Washington- becomes
leader Continental Army- Soldiers only sign up
for 1 year enlistments
• British expected to win easily but couldn’t find
a lot of recruits b/c its for life so they hire
German Hessians (Mercenaries)
War in the Middle States
• The Battle for Long Island- Washington vs Howe and
9000 Hessians. England wins and Washington’s army
is demoralized. They retreat across the Delaware.
• Political writer Thomas Paine writes The American
Crisis – “These are the times that try men’s souls”
• Desperate to turn the tide before his soldiers’
enlistments run out Washington leads a sneak attack
back across the Delaware on Christmas morning to
Trenton. They capture or kill over 900 Hessians. Then
they win at Princeton .
• The soldiers now believe that victory is possible and
they sign back up
Britain's Northern Strategy
• British Strategy (or plan of action) was to isolate the
New England colonies. They have a 3 part plan
1. General Burgoyne would lead a force from Canada
2. Lt. Colonel St. Leger would come down the Mohawk
3. General Howe would follow the Hudson River North
• All would converge on Albany NY and the Hudson
• First St. Leger is not able to keep moving through
the Mohawk valley after an encounter with
• General Howe splits his force and tries to capture
the Continental Congress in Philadelphia only
sending a few thousand men up the Hudson to meet
• Howe defeats Washington at Brandywine and
• Burgoyne continues toward Albany but will not have
help from St Leger or from a large force commanded
Saratoga and Foreign Help
• Burgoyne’s army continues to move south but begins
to run out of supplies because the people hide/
destroy the food before he gets there.
• American general Horatio Gates digs in at Bemis
Heights (Near Saratoga) The fortifications allow them
to command the valley below and the British cannot
pass without being attacked by cannon fire.
• Benedict Arnold leads several attacks on British
nearby and defeats that part of the army.
• Burgoyne is unable to defeat Gates and retreats to
Saratoga. The Continentals surround and capture
• This victory inspires countries to join – France,
Spain, the Netherlands all begin to help. Some
send supplies. France sends troops. The war
sparks conflict world wide forcing the British
to fight on several “fronts”.
• Famous foreign officers – Marquis De
Lafayette- French officer helped command
w/Washington. G.W regarded him as a son.
• Baron von Steuben (German) - trained the
Valley Forge, the Frontier and war at sea
• After the defeat by Howe, George Washington’s
troops winter at Valley Forge in PA. The lack of
supplies is apparent as most men don’t have
shoes, jackets or food.. The continental congress
is very slow in getting $. (1777)
• The Frontier- The Wilderness Road (built in 1775
by Daniel Boone) leads to KY. George Rogers Clark
captures several British outposts. Clark and his
men then battle Brit. Henry (Hair Buyer) Hamilton
for fort Sackville at Vincennes. He sneaks up
through the swamps and tricks them into thinking
that there is a bigger colonial army than there is.
Brutal execution of natives persuade the brits to
• The war at sea- American Privateers are used
to harass British trade. More than 1000 were
• John Paul Jones sailed all the way to Britain to
attack ships on their coast. Jones leads a
courageous attack on 2 Brit ships… “I have not
yet begun to fight…” He wins the battle but his
ship sinks and he sails off in a British ship.
Savannah and Charlestown
• The British decide to attack in the south. 1778
they capture Savannah. A British army lands
and corners an American army in
Charlestown. It surrenders and this is the
worst defeat of the war. From here Lord
Cornwallis is put in charge for the Brits while
General Gates is sent for the Americans. Gates
is defeated at Camden and American Morale is
sent to an all time low.
• Francis Marion is an american commander
who uses guerilla tactics to hit and run. The
Brits can never find him (Swamp fox)
Yorktown and why America wins
• Cornwallis sets up a base at Yorktown without
orders. Washington joins forces with French General
Rochambeau. A peninsula, Yorktown is a perfect
place for a trap. The army arrives at the same time as
a French fleet, which prevents Cornwallis from
escaping by sea.
• 1781 Cornwallis surrenders his army of 8000.
With the capture of their finest general the British
negotiate a peace treaty.. .
The Brits are not just defeated by soldiers but by a
civilian resistance that never gave up.
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