American Revolutionary War

1775–1783 war of independence / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was the military conflict of the American Revolution in which American Patriot forces under George Washington's command defeated the British, establishing and securing the independence of the United States. Fighting began on April 19, 1775 at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The war was formalized and intensified following passage of the Lee Resolution, which asserted that the Thirteen Colonies were "free and independent states", and the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia ratified the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

American Revolutionary War
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions, American Revolution
Clockwise from top left: 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, and the Battle of Guilford Court House
DateApril 19, 1775  September 3, 1783[1]
(8 years, 4 months and 15 days)
Ratification effective: May 12, 1784
U.S. and Allied victory
  • Treaty of Paris
  • British recognition of U.S. independence
  • End of the First British Empire[2]
Great Britain cedes control of all territories east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to the United States


Treaty belligerents

Commanders and leaders

Casualties and losses
  • United States:
    • 6,800 dead in battle
    • 6,100 wounded
    • 17,000 disease dead[33]
    • 25–70,000 war dead[34]
    • 130,000 smallpox dead[35]
  • France:
  • Spain:
    • 371 dead – W. Florida[38]
    • 4,000 dead – prisoners[39]
  • American Indians: unknown
  • Great Britain:
  • Germans:
    • 7,774 total dead
    • 1,800 dead in battle
    • 4,888 deserted[12]
  • Loyalists:
    • 7,000 total dead
    • 1,700 dead in battle
    • 5,300 dead of disease[41]
  • American Indians

In the war, American patriot forces were supported by the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of Spain. The British, in turn, were supported by Hessian soldiers from Germany, some American Indians, Loyalists, and freedmen. The conflict was fought in America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The American colonies were established by Royal charter in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were largely autonomous in domestic affairs and commercially prosperous, trading with Britain, its Caribbean colonies, and other European powers via their Caribbean entrepôts. The British gained victory over the French in the Seven Years' War in 1763, and tensions and disputes arose between Britain and the Thirteen Colonies over policies related to trade, trans-Appalachian settlement, and taxation, including the Stamp and Townshend Acts. Colonial opposition led to the Boston Massacre in 1770, which strengthened American Patriots' desire for independence from Britain. The earlier taxation measures were repealed, but the British Parliament adopted the Tea Act in 1773, a measure which led to the Boston Tea Party on December 16. In response, Parliament imposed the Intolerable Acts in mid-1774, closed Boston Harbor, and revoked Massachusetts' charter, which placed the colony under the British monarchy's direct governance.

These measures stirred unrest throughout the colonies, 12 of which sent delegates to Philadelphia in early September 1774 to organize a protest as the First Continental Congress. The Congress drafted a Petition to the King asking for peace, and threatened a boycott of British goods known as the Continental Association if the Intolerable Acts were not withdrawn. Fighting began at the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. In June, the Second Continental Congress formalized Patriot militias into the Continental Army and appointed George Washington commander-in-chief. The coercion policy advocated by the North ministry was opposed by a faction within Parliament, but both sides saw conflict as inevitable. Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition to George III in July 1775, but the King rejected it. Parliament declared the colonies to be in a state of rebellion in August.

Washington's forces drove the British army out of Boston during the Siege of Boston in March 1776, and British commander in chief William Howe launched the New York and New Jersey campaign. Howe captured New York City in November, and Washington responded by secretly crossing the Delaware River and winning small but significant victories at Trenton and Princeton, which restored Patriot confidence. In summer 1777, Howe succeeded in taking Philadelphia, forcing the Continental Congress to flee Philadelphia.

In October, a separate British force under John Burgoyne was forced to surrender at Saratoga. This victory was crucial in convincing France and Spain that an independent United States was a viable entity. With Philadelphia occupied, Washington and 12,000 Continental Army troops secured refuge in Valley Forge from December 1777 to June 1778. At Valley Forge, General von Steuben drilled the Continental Army into a more viable fighting unit, but as many as 2,000 Continental Army troops died from disease and possibly malnutrition over a brutal winter.

France provided the Continental Army with informal economic and military support from the beginning of the war. After Saratoga, the two countries signed a commercial agreement and a Treaty of Alliance in February 1778. Spain also allied with France against Britain in the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1779, though it did not formally ally with the Americans. Nevertheless, access to ports in Spanish Louisiana allowed the Patriots to import arms and supplies, while the Spanish Gulf Coast campaign deprived the Royal Navy of key bases in the south.

This undermined the 1778 strategy devised by Howe's replacement Henry Clinton which took the war into the Southern United States. Despite some initial success, Cornwallis was besieged by a Franco-American force in Yorktown in September and October 1781. He attempted to resupply the garrison but failed; Cornwallis surrendered in October. The British wars with France and Spain continued for another two years, but Britain's forces in America were largely confined to several harbors and Great Lakes forts, and fighting largely ceased in America. In April 1782, the North ministry was replaced by a new British government which accepted American independence and began negotiating the Treaty of Paris which was ratified on September 3, 1783. Britain acknowledged the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America, and the American Revolutionary War came to an end. The Treaties of Versailles resolved Britain's conflicts with France and Spain.[42]