What challenges did the Americanrevolutionaries face at the start ofthe war?
One thing that the British and the Patriots had incommon was that both felt the Revolutionary War would be short. The Patriots thought they could win by holding on long enough that the British wouldn’t careanymore (War of attrition). The British thought that they could win by usingtheir mighty army and navy to crush the rebellion in the colonies.
The British had the strongest army and navy in the world. The British were well-equipped and werewell-trained. Their army knew how to fight. The British Empire stretched across theworld, which meant that the British had the money to spend on fighting a war.The British also outnumbered the Americansin population, with 8 million people living in Britain and only 2.5 million in the colonies.
The Patriots faced disadvantages at the beginning of the Revolution.They had no real regular army to face the British redcoats. Militia only fought near home and for short amounts of time. There was no American navy in existence. Weapons and ammunition were also in short supply.
Not every American colonists was a Patriot.Some were neutral like the Quakers. They were pacifists and would not fight in the conflict. Others were still loyal to the British crown. They were called Loyalists or Tories.Between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 Americans was a Loyalist.Loyalists were more popular in the South.Some people remained loyal because they were Anglicans, and the King was the head of their church.
The Patriots did have some advantages in the Revolutionary War: • They fought on their own terrain. • Their supply lines were short. • Patriots were fighting for their freedom, the Hessianmercenaries were fighting for money.• The Americans had George Washington
General Washington was an extraordinary leader. Washington had courage, honesty, and admiration in larger amountsthan any other military officer.Almost all the delegates to theCongress had approved of hisappointment to command the Continental Army. Washington mastered the tactical retreat during the Revolution.
The Continental Army was always struggling for men and supplies. The Congress could do little to force the states to plan together to fight the British.In essence it was like 13 separate wars were being fought at times. The militias would fight the British, but only for a short time or near their homes.The Continental Army only enlisted their men for a year. The states had to recruit men into the army.Washington asked for and got the Congress to grant three year enlistments to keep soldiers in the army longer. Finally, most officers were veterans of the French and Indian War, or were younger men who stood out.
In 1776, British General Howe came to the U.S. with 32,000 British troops.He hoped to use his large armyto destroy the Patriot rebellion.Washington met the British on Long Island in New York.He was defeated badly by theBritish, and forced to retreat. Nathan Hale, a schoolteacher, was caught and hung as a Patriot spy at LongIsland. Before he was executed he uttered his famous words: “I only regret that I have butone life to give for my country.”
In the winter of 1776-1777, the Continental Army almost dissolved. Most armies in the 18th Century didn’t fight during the winter.Soldiers finished their enlistments, and others deserted the army. Washington begged the ContinentalCongress for more troops and asked for even freed African Americans to help fight. He said if the army wasn’t put backtogether soon, that “the game is pretty near up.” Southern states were not comfortablewith African Americans being armed and allowed to serve in the army.
As many as 5,000 African Americans may have served in the Continental Army. Every state sent some African Americans except South Carolina.
The British stayed in New York during the winter. Some troops were left in Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey.General Washington was in Pennsylvania,and saw a chance to attack a smaller force of 1,400 Hessian troops.Washington and 2,400 troops crossed the Delaware River on Christmas and captured Hessian soldiers at Trenton. The Hessians were drunk when Washington found them. Washington then marched to Princeton where he forced the British to retreat. Washington wanted to attack before his men’s enlistments were up.
The first major victory for the Americans was won at Saratoga.The British had planned a 3-prong assault on Albany, to destroy resistance and to separate the New England and Southern Colonies. Generals Howe and Burgoyne, as well as Lt. Colonel St. Leger were tomove in on Albany from three sides, surrounding and capturing it. The goal was to destroy any resistance in New York.
The British were defeated after they didn’t follow through on their plan. Burgoyne was forced to surrender to General Horatio Gates.The French realized that the Americans may be able to win the war, and declared war on Great Britain too. France began to send help to the U.S. to fight off the British and remain independent.
How did the United States gainallies and aid during theRevolutionary War?
After the Battle of Saratoga, the Patriots attracted the attention of the other large European powers.Ben Franklin had been in Paris since late 1776.Franklin was able to use his charm to get the French to help fund the war effort secretly.In February, 1778, after the Battle of Saratoga, the French decided to help the Americans openly, publicly announcing their support. An alliance formed between the French andAmericans, and they sent money, equipment, and troops to the U.S. France also declared war on the British in February, 1778.
Spain also declared war onGreat Britain in 1779. Theydid so mostly because they hated the British. The Spanish governor ofLouisiana formed an armyand attacked the British in Florida and the surrounding area.This fighting distracted theBritish from the main goal of defeating thePatriots, and forced some of their troops to be busy fighting unimportant battles.
General Howe stayed in Philadelphia for the winter of 1777-1778 after not going to Albany. George Washington and the Continental Army set up camp at Valley Forge, about 20 miles away from the British. The winter was brutal. The troops didn’t have enough food, clothing, tents, or medicine.Washington’s army was falling apart. Many men deserted the army.As winter ended however the armybegan to grow and become stronger again.
One of the leaders at Valley Forge was aFrenchmen named the Marquis de Lafayette. He learned of the Declaration ofIndependence and came to help the Patriots. Washington made him an assistant, and he helped to run the army.Casimir Pulaski, a cavalry officer from Poland, helped train the troops at Valley Forge. Friedrich von Steuben, a German army veteran, also joined Washington army.Von Steuben drilled and trained the troops, making them into a professional army.
Even though money was coming fromthe French and the Spanish, more was needed to continue to pay for the war. The Continental Congress could not tax the states, only ask them for money. To try to pay debts, the Congress began to print money.These dollar bills had no gold or silverto back them, making them more and more worthless. Inflation quickly set in and made anything that had little or no value “worthless as a continental.”
The question of the equality of women was quickly brought up.Women believed they should startto educate girls the same as boys.Slavery was questioned from the beginning of the war.Many states began to think aboutabolishing slavery. Not much was resolved however.Loyalists still supported the British and helped them to fight the Patriots. Some Patriots went as far as toarrest or even execute confirmed Loyalists.
Section 3-Essential QuestionHow did fighting in the West andSouth affect the course of theRevolutionary War?
As the Revolution continued the Native Americans began to be caught up in the war. Most Native Americans helped the British and the Loyalists. The Native Americans thought the British were less of a threat.
The British allied with the Native Americans to raid and attack American settlements in the West.Joseph Brant was the leader of the Mohawk tribe. He led his warriors against the Americans in Pennsylvania and New York.Henry Hamilton led British forces against the Americans in Detroit. He paid Native Americans for the scalps of American settlers.
George Rogers Clark, fromVirginia, led about 200 men along the Ohio River to attack the British in the West. They captured Kaskaskia in Illinois, and then Vincennes in Indiana. Clark lost Vincennes after he captured it, but recaptured it again a few months later. He forced Henry Hamilton to surrender, and made sure theAmericans had firm control in the West.
The British Navy had been blockading Americanports, not letting anyone in or out.Because of the blockade, the Americans could not get supplies or reinforcements. The Continental Congressbegan to approve the building of a navy, but only two ships made it into battle before being captured.To continue to have ships that were able to fight at sea, theContinental Congress allowed for the outfitting of approximately 2,000 privateers.
Privateers are merchants ships that are privately armed to fight. These ships acted like legal pirates. They would be commissioned (approved) by the Continental Congress and would sail looking for enemy naval and merchant ships.Privateers tried to capture the enemyship and claim it as a prize. They then got to keep the ship and anything on board.Anything that could be sold was soldand then the crew of the ship divided up the money based on seniority.
The Americans did manage to take the fight to Great Britain. John Paul Jones, an American naval officer,raided British ports and ships around Great Britain. Jones commanded the Bonhomme Richard, and is famous for his battle with the British warship Serapis. After hours of fighting, the British asked Jones to surrender, to which he responded “I have not yet begun to fight!”
The British were losing their grip on the colonies, and they decided to begin a new offensive in the South.The British wanted to use theirnavy and Loyalist support in the South to win victories. The Americans were defeated and lost the cities of Savannah and Charles Town.Thousands of American soldierswere captured at Charles Town.General Charles Cornwallis was left to command the British troops in the South.
As the British tried to spread out to control the South, theymet small bands of soldiers who would ambush them. The Patriots would attack andthen disappear to regroup and attack suddenly again.This type of fighting, using hit- and-run tactics is known as guerilla warfare.Francis Marion was the leader of one of these groups. Hefought in the swamps of SouthCarolina and became known as the “Swamp Fox.”
The Spanish governor of Louisiana loaned money and weapons to the Patriots. In 1779, Spain declared war on Britain.The Spanish formed an army and fought the British on the lower Mississippi River.
Nathaniel Greene was the commander of American troops in the South. Greene divided his army in half, and won a victory at Cowpens, South Carolina.After reassembling the army,Greene fought the British atGuilford Courthouse in South Carolina. The British won tactically, but the Americans won strategically. The British suffered heavy losses.
Cornwallis knew if he didn’t dosomething soon, the French would show up to help the Americans.More troops and supplies were also headed South.Cornwallis moved into Virginia, andalmost managed to capture Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature. Washington sent troops under Lafayette and General Anthony Wayne to meet Cornwallis. Cornwallis set up his army at Yorktown, Virginia, and waited for new orders.
In July of 1780, French troops arrived under the command of Comte de Rochambeau.These troops were accompanied by a French fleet sent to help the Americans. The British Navy also sent moreships and trapped the French ships in Rhode Island.General Washington was watching General Clinton in New York City, and also kept an eye on General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia.
Washington learned that another French fleet led by Francois de Grasse was headed to Virginia.Washington decided to leave General Clinton alone in New York City and instead attack General Cornwallis in Virginia.General Rochambeau had linked up his troops with Washington, and both would head to Yorktown secretly.Washington and Rochambeau, Lafayette, and de Grasse’s forces would all meet up at Yorktown.
The allied American and French forces numbered 14,000. They trapped Cornwallis and his 8,000 men inside of Yorktown. The French fleet under de Grasse made sure the British did not escape by sea. The French and the Americans firedcannons into Yorktown, bombing the city. After holding out for about a week,Cornwallis was short on supplies and men, and was forced to surrender.The French band played “Yankee Doodle” at the surrender ceremony, while the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down.”
After Yorktown, the Britishrealized it would be too costly to win the war. Both the British and theAmericans sent delegates to Paris to discuss peace. Ben Franklin, John Jay, andJohn Adams went to Paris toagree on the Treaty of Paris. The Congress ratified thetreaty on September 3, 1783, officially ending the war.
The Treaty of Parisrecognized the United States as an independent nation. The British agreed to remove their troopsfrom the U.S., and allowAmericans to fish in the waters of Canada. The U.S. agreed to letthe British collect debts owed to them and to ensure Loyalists weregiven back any property taken from them.
After the fighting stopped, General Washington had to turn his leadership toward keeping his men happy.The men were upset about not being paid yet for fighting. They wanted to use force on the Congress, but General Washington managed to keep them calm. Soon after he resigned from the army, and planned to return home.
The Americans had managed to defeat the most powerful military in the world. They fought on their own land, which gave them a place to stay, supplies, and the strength to defend their homes.Their knowledge of their lands allowed them to set up ambushes and choose the best places to fight. The fact that other nations were willing to help the Americans led to their eventual victory.
The ideas of theAmericans involving liberty and therights of man would influence the French. The FrenchRevolution began in 1789. The French believed in the same ideas as the Americans.