The war that gave the United States of America its independence is alternately known as the "American War for Independence" and the "Revolutionary War." If you're looking for basic Revolutionary War facts, this article should help. Here, we look at the essential facts of America's War for Independence, focusing on those things every person should know about the Revolutionary War.
Where Did The Revolutionary War Take Place?
The American Revolutionary War was, in many respects, a world war. It impacted four continents and touched the lives of millions of people around the globe. Yet most of the fighting, particularly in the early years of the conflict, took place in North America.
What Countries Fought in the Revolutionary War?
The principal players in the American Revolutionary War, of course, were Great Britain and the thirteen colonies who rebelled against King George III and the British Parliament. On July 4, 1776, those thirteen colonies proclaimed themselves the "United States of America."
Other nations drawn into the conflict included France and Spain as well as Canada (though, at the time, Canada was not a country, but was part of the British Empire).
When Did The Revolutionary War Start?
Tensions were mounting between Great Britain and its North American colonies since the French and Indian War. Rioting, street violence, and rural unrest were not uncommon in the 1760s and early 1770s. Shots were fired and blood was spilled in the streets of Boston in 1770. Some therefore maintain the war began with the "Boston Massacre." However, none of these incidents resulted in sustained warfare. Not until April of 1775.
The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.
**For more on what started the Revolutionary War, read "Causes of the American Revolution."
Major Battles of the Revolutionary War
The Revolutionary War was a long and difficult war, but major battles (similar in scope and scale as what would be seen many years later in the American Civil War) were few. More soldiers died in camp than on the battlefield. Perhaps the most significant battles and campaigns include (but are not limited to):
*The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775)
*The (failed) American invasion of Canada (1775)
*The New York / Long Island Campaign (1776)
*The New Jersey Campaign, including the battles at Trenton and Princeton (1776-77)
*The Battles of Brandywine and Germantown (1777)
*The Battle of Monmouth (1778)
*The Battle of Camden (1780)
*The Battle of King's Mountain (1780)
*The Battle of Cowpens (1781)
*The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (1781)
*The Battle of Yorktown (1781)
When Did The Revolutionary War End?
The last major battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at Yorktown in Virginia in 1781. It ended when a besieged British army, commanded by General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered (via proxy) to General George Washington.
The issues of the war, however, were not fully resolved until 1783, when the British granted American independence with the Treaty of Paris.
Who Won The Revolutionary War?
The American colonies achieved their independence with the Treaty of Paris (1783). Thus, it must be said that the Americans won and the British lost. However...
The British Empire, in some respects, emerged stronger from the Revolutionary War. Their most serious international rival, France, was bankrupted by the war, and its government would collapse in turmoil during the French Revolution.
Britain held onto its other global possessions, and its Royal Navy continued to "rule the waves" for many years to come.
What's more, the United States took a few years to get going. Britain was still able to make money off the United States via trade, and (for a time) even played some states off of others. With the U.S. Constitution and the War of 1812, the United States got its bearings and would eventually emerge as a stronger world player. But in the years immediately after the Revolutionary War, the British remained in a formidable position.
***For more on early American history (particularly with respect to its moral, cultural, and religious heritage), check out "Books on Early America" and visit American Creation.