The War That Forged a Nation

(United Reader) – War has been around all throughout human history. As unfortunate as it often is, it can sometimes result in something great. The American Revolution just so happens to be one of those instances.

Not Always Bad

Before the American Revolution, the relationship between the American colonies and the British Parliament was actually a good one. The colonies were allowed to be self-governed without the interference of the British Empire. The colonies flourished and became profitable, which extended across the Atlantic to the British Empire. Of course, as history shows, this time of peace did not last.

Last Resort

After the French-Indian War, Great Britain was left with an immense debt. After all, war is expensive. Naturally, the British Parliament wanted a way to reduce this stress and looked to the American colonies to take some of the burden. Great Britain, in 1763, enacted a series of parliamentary statutes to tax the American colonies.

While the act was sensible, as the British did come to the aid of the colonies during the French-Indian War, the colonists didn’t take the new taxes lightly. So, from 1763 to 1776, King George III, the British Parliament, governors and colonists argued about trade regulations, taxes and representation. Even with the amount of unrest increasing, many Americans saw war and rebellion and eventually independence as a last resort.

The First Strike

By the year of 1775, both sides were at their breaking point, negotiations were getting nowhere and both sides prepared for war. Eventually, the British went on to raid Lexington and Concord outside of Boston in the spring of 1775. On April 19th, the British arrived, greeted by the “minutemen.” Despite their role as being a show of force, the militia quickly dispersed, but not before a shot rang out, officially beginning the American Revolutionary War.

The American War of Independence

On June 17th the first major clash, the Battle of Bunker Hill, took place in Boston at Breed’s Hill. Despite heavy casualties to the British forces at the hands of the colonials, the battle ended with Britain being the victor. However, this only further ignited the flame of the revolutionary cause.

In the coming months, General George Washington and his troops struggled to contain the British Army in Boston. However, eventually Henry Knox and his men captured 12 pieces of artillery, leading them from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights; Washington would eventually force 11,000 British troops out of Boston thanks to this development. In March of 1776, Howe’s troops retreated to Canada, where they would plan a major invasion on New York.

The war was raging by June of 1776, the number of colonists in favor of independence having grown to a majority, and on July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was voted on by the Continental Congress, adopted and signed.

During this time, the British were amassing an invasion force of over 34,000 troops, with New York as its target, determined to put an end to the rebellion. Howe’s troops eventually forced Washington to pull his men from the city before September. Now, on the other side of the Delaware River, General Washington would launch an attack on the night of Christmas in Trenton, NJ. Another victory came in Princeton, reigniting the hopes of the rebellion and eventually making camp for the winter in Morristown.

Turning Point

In 1777, the British strategy was to use a two-pronged attack to separate New England from the rest of the colonies. British Army General John Burgoyne marched his troops south out of Canada as part of a plan to meet the forces of General Howe near the Hudson River. Burgoyne took back Fort Ticonderoga, but not without suffering significant losses. Meanwhile, Howe and his forces were moving south out of New York to confront Washington’s forces near Chesapeake Bay.

On September 11, Washington’s force was defeated at Brandywine Creek, PA. However, Washington later rebounded in early October with a strike to Germantown before eventually returning to the winter quarters in Valley Forge. The move made by Howe left Burgoyne’s forces exposed, and on September 19th, near Saratoga, NY, the Americans defeated his forces under the command of General Horatio Gates in the first part of the Battle of Saratoga.

On October 7th, General Burgoyne was defeated yet again in the Second Battle of Saratoga, and on October 17th the rest of Burgoyne’s forces surrendered to the Continental Army. The American victory at Saratoga was effectively the turning point of the war as the French, who had been covertly helping the Americans from the beginning, would now be openly involved. Eventually, France declared war officially against the British Empire in 1778, turning a civil dispute into a world war.

Northern Stalemate

Washington’s forces largely benefited at Valley Forge from Baron Friedrich von Steuben’s training and the leadership of Marquis de Lafayette, both of whom were sent by the French. June 28th, 1778, with the British forces now being commanded by Sir Henry Clinton, the new Supreme Commander effectively replacing Howe, the troops withdrew from Philadelphia to New York.

However, Washington’s forces would attack Clinton’s men near Monmouth, NJ, though the battle with neither side achieving victory. Despite this, Clinton would succeed in getting his troops and supplies back to New York.

The French sent a fleet, ready to battle the British, which arrived off the Atlantic coast on July 8th, commanded by the Comte d’Estaing. The British would be the victims of a joint attack in Newport, RI, but ultimately the effort was a failure, settling the war into a stalemate in the North for the most part.

Battle in the South

The American force had experienced serious setbacks between 1779-1781. One was General Benedict Arnold’s defection to the British Empire along with other serious mutinies against the Continental Army. By early 1779, the British Empire occupied Georgia and later captured Charleston, SC in May of 1780.

Gates’ force was crushed during Lord Cornwallis’ offensive through the region. Despite the victory at King’s Mountain against the loyalists, Gates would be replaced by Nathanael Green as the Southern Commander of the Continental Army. Under the new commandment, General Daniel Morgan achieved victory against the British Colonel Banastre Tarleton in South Carolina, at Cowpens on January 17th, 1781.

Concluding the War

General Green forced Cornwallis’ forces to retreat to Virginia’s Yorktown peninsula, where they would eventually be outnumbered due to the 36 French ships cutting off reinforcement from the British empire. Cornwallis was ultimately forced to surrender on October 19th. Despite the Battle of Yorktown being the site for the revolution’s victory, observers would not declare it a victory as British troops were still stationed in Charleston, the main army of the British Empire still being present in New York.

The lack of action from either side for the next 2 years would eventually see the removal of these troops. Negotiators from both Britain and America met in Paris in late November. Eventually, on September 3rd, the independence of the United States was officially recognized by Great Britain. France and Spain had also signed similar treaties with Great Britain, officially ending the American Revolutionary War.

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