Prepared and Punctual
The American Revolution: 1775 to 1783
The American Revolution was the product of years of political conflict between the colonists and the British Royal Government. The roots of the Revolution lie in the philosophical developments of thinkers like Montesquieu, Hobbes, and John Locke. John Locke, an English political philosopher, stated that a government was based upon the protection of one's property. Furthermore, Locke believed that each person, regardless of social status or wealth, possessed property - the mind and the soul. Thus, the government was in place to protect the people and the inherent rights. This was a revolutionary concept. To take it one step further Locke suggested
that the people had the right to create a new government when the current government was not protecting their property or "rights". It was from this philosophical argument that the American colonists began their quest for Independence. Organizations such as the Sons of Liberty and politicians like Thomas Paine quickly spread the Revolutionary ideal of "no taxation without representation".
The first blows of the Revolutionary were thrown on the fields of Lexingtion and Concord, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts colonists had been stockpiling arms in the armories of Eastern Massachusetts in preparation of armed conflict with the British Army led by General Gates. The British marc hed to Lexington, Massachusetts on the morning of April 15, 1775 to confront the colonists and remove their stockpiled supplies of rifles and gun powder. The colonists stood their ground and the fighting began. Throughout the Summer of 1775 the Colonials would work to surround the British in Boston. The major conflict of this era of the Revolutionary War
was the Battle of Bunker Hill on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. The colonist fought valiantly but were unable to withstand three waves of the British Regulars, known commonly as Red Coats. Yet, this battle taught the American colonials that the might British Army was not invincible. However, the early years of the war would not fare well for the new Continental Army led by General George Washington. The Continentals faced many obstacles in the early years of the wars: supplies shortages, lack of training, lack of funding for the Army, and the superior funding, training, and leadership of the British Army. The Continentals suffered a damaging defeat at the Battle of New York This defeat left the Continental Army on the brink of disaster. The Continental Army needed a morale booster. On Christmas Eve of 1776 the General Washington delivered the necessary gift: a swift and significant victory over the German Hessian mercenaries
stationed at Trenton, New Jersey. Washington led the Continental Army across the icy Deleware River and the Continental Army took the Hessians by surprise. As a result of this victory a majority of the Continental Army reenlisted.
The next few years were a period of transition for the Continental Army and the new American Nation. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 but the new nation had yet to defeat the British Army in a significant land battle by the Fall of 1777. The Continental Army suffered another signficant defeat at the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. Then, in early October the capitol of the young nation was taken by the British Army. The nation was at the verge of collapsing. Washington withdrew the Continental Army into central Pennsyslvania and braced itself for a long winter. Finally, on October 17, 1777 the war took a
turn for the better for the Continental Army. General Horatio Gates defeated the celebrated British General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga. The victory taught the Continentals that the British Army was not invincible and that hope existed for the new America nation. However, the victory was tempered by the long and severe winter of 1777 & 1778. The Continental Army made its home at Valley Forge, Pennsylania. The Army was under very strenuous conditions: lack of adequate winter clothes, lack of adequate winter housing, low supplies, and severe winter weather. Yet, at the same time that the Army was suffering through the winter a significant political goal was being accomplished - the addition of the French as an ally against the British.
The addition of the French was a significant victory for the new nation. The skillful political expertise of Benjamin Franklin helped bring the French into the fold. Another key contributor to the transformation of the American hopes in the war was Prussian Captain Friedrich Von Steuben. Von Steuben spend the winter of 1777/78 at Valley Forge training the ragged Continental Army. By the Spring of 1778 the Continental army had been transformed from a ragtag group of rebels into a sound and well-trained military force. The Continentals entered the Spring of 1778 ready to face the British Army "Red Coats" in a traditinal European military
battle. The Continentals were still losing battles, but they were exacting a heavy toll on the British Army. The Continentals suffered a major setback with the fall of Charleston, South Carolina. From 1778 to 1781 the British and the Americans engaged in continuous warfare. The Continentals suffered a number of strategic defeats, yet the morale and power of the British Army was beginning to decline. By the summer of 1781 General Washington had combined the French forces, led by Marquis de Lafayette, with the Continental Army. Then, in August of 1781 the French Navy was able to Blockade the Chesapeake Bay and trap Lord Cornwallis and the British Army at Yorktown, Virginia. The Contintentals win a decisive victory at Yorktown. Lord Cornwallis surrendered the British Army to the General Washington on October 19, 1781. The Revolutionary War was near it end. Finally, in April of 1783 the 2nd Treaty of Paris is signed by the
French, the United States of America, and Great Britain. The final British troops evacuauated New York on November 25, 1783. The War for Independence was over. Now the new nation would struggle to create a stable government.