Battles of Lexington and Concord
General Thomas Gage ordered British troops to Lexington to try to capture Sam Adams and John Hancock, and to Concord where the colonists had stored arms and ammuntion. Paul Revere and William Dawes warned the minuetmen that the redcoats were coming. Adams and Hancock escaped from Lexington, but the British destroyed military stores at Concord. After the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, the British marhed back to Boston under a steady fire from the minuetmen. The redcoats suffered heavy casulties.
Battle of Bunker Hill
Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the British returned to Boston. Some 10,000 colonial militiamen took up the positions around the city. When the Americans occupied Breed's Hill, the redcoats attempted to drive them off. The first two British attacks failed, but the third assault on the hill succeeded when the Americans ran out of ammuntion. The British won the battle, but lost far more soldiers than the patriots. The patriots displayed skill and courage, and showed that they would not be easily defeated.
Invasion of Canada
Ethan Allen and The Green Mountain Boys (militia group) of Vermont, with the help of Benedict Arnold, captured the British forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. These successes in northern New York opened the way for a two-pronged invasion of Canada. The Americans hoped they could win the assistance of French-Canadians who disliked the British. American Commander Richard Montgomery led an expedition north to Montreal, which he captured. Montgomery then advanced to Quebec, where he joined forces with Benedict Arnold, who marched north from Boston. The Americans attacked Quebec during a blizzard on Dec. 31 1775, but were driven back. Montgomery was killed and Arnold was severely wounded. The Americans retreated to Fort Ticonderoga.
The British Withdraw from Boston
Two weeks after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Gen. GW yook command of the Continental Army in Boston. Cannons taken at Fort Ticonderoga were positioned on Dorchester Heights overlooking the Boston Harbor. Fearing the Cannon, British Gen. William Howe, who had replaced Gen. Gage, Withdrew from Boston to Nova Scotia, Canada. Five months later, Gen. Howe landed on Long Island with the intention of capturing New York City. He was met by Gen. GW, who had moved the Continental Army south from Boston.
The British capture New York City
Over the next four months, the British army won the Battles of New York, Long Island, and White Plains. General Howe's powerful forces overwhelmed the smaller and poorly equipped American Army. Howe missed several chances to pursue and destroy the retreating Americans. General GW, using all of his skill as a commander, managed to escape into NJ. It was during the New York campaign that Nathan Hale was captured and hung as a spy on orders from Gen. Howe.
Battles of Trenton and Princeton
NYC was now in the hands of the British. The ragged Continental Army was on the verge of defeat. Even GW, retreating with his shoeless army through the cold winter rain, told a friend, "The spirits of the people have shrink. Without fresh troops, I think the game is pretty near up." Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet, "The Crisis" that, "these are the times that try men's souls." GW struck back with two swift triumphs. Crossing the icy Delaware River on Christmas night, he surprised the Hessian forces at Trenton, NJ. A week later, he took Princeton. These victories boosted American spirits and attracted more men into the Continental Army.
Battles of Oriskany and Saratoga
The British, in 1777, planned to divide New England from the rest of the colonies by capturing New York State. The plan had three parts: 1. Gen. Joh Burgoyne was to march from Canada to Albany, New York. 2. Coloniel Barry ST. Leger was to lead an army from Canada to Oswego, and then eastward to Albany. 3. Gen. Howe would move north from NYC to Albany. But the British plan failed. St Leger was defeated at the Battle of Oriskany. In of marching north to Albany, Gen. Howe moved his army to Philadelphia, winning battles at Brandywine and Germantown against Gen. Washington. Gen. Burgoyne was defeated at the Battle of Saratoga by American forces commanded by Gen. Horatio Gates. The news of the American victory at Saratoga convinced France to sign the Treaty of Alliance with the U.S.
The British leave Philadelphia
The redcoats spent the winter of 1777-1778 in Philadelphia, the capital of the United States. The city had fallen into British hands after the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Meanwhile, the Continental Army set up a winter headquarter at nearby Valley Forge. GW's men suffered from a shortage of food, clothong, and other supplies. Baron von Steuben reorganized and trained the Continentals to prepare them for the military campaigns of 1778. By May, large-scale French aid, including an army and a power fleet, began arriving in the United States. Feeling increased pressure, Gen. Henry Clinton, who succeeded Howe, abandoned Philadelphia and moved the British forces back to NYC.
The War at Sea
Throughout the Revolutionary War, American forces tried to avid a direct confrontation with the powerful British Navy. Instead, they concentrated on disrupting Great Britain's trade. The small Continental Navy, with the help of about 2000 privateers, inflicted heavy damage on the British ships. About 800 British ships were either captured or destroyed. The famous battle involved the "Bonhome Richard," commanded by Captain John Paul Jones, and the British warhip, "Serapis." The Ameicans captured the 44-gun, "Serapis" after a bloody, bitter fight off with the British off the coast of Great Britain.
The End of the War
Most of the fighting in the last years of the war took place in the South. The British captured the coastal cities of Savanna, Charleston, and Wilmington. The British Army, under Gen. Charles Cornwallis, marched in and defeated the American forces at Camden, South Carolina. But GW, who was containing Gen. Clinton in NY, sent Gen. Nathaniel Greene to the Southern States. After the Continental Army won Battles at King's Mountain, Cowpens, and Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis retreated to the coast. He marched his army to Yorktown, Virginia, which he planned to use as a base of operations. As Marquis De Lafayette occupies Cornwallis, GW hurried south of NY with a force of 20,000 men. Meanwhile, a French fleet under Admiral de Grasse prevented the British Navy from rescuing Cornwallis. Surrounded on all sides and under a savage bombardment, Cornwallis surrendered. Yorktown was the last major battle of the War. In the Treaty of Paris, Great Britian recognized the independnce of the United States.