“Almost a Miracle”The Evolution of Warfare During the American Revolution 1775-1783 American Studies- Wohlgster
Learning Objectives • Discuss British and American military strategies and objectives, and note how they changed during the course of the American Revolution • Contrast the Continental Army with the professional armies of the 18th century and discuss how this difference dictated Washington’s strategy • Explain how French intervention tipped the balance in favor of America in the War for Independence • Identify the Top 10 Events of the American Revolution at the end!
Essential Questions • Why does John Ferling refer to the colonial victory in the American Revolution as “Almost a Miracle?” • In what ways was the American Revolution a civil war? • Were the American revolutionaries Patriots or terrorists?
The Road to Revolution • Big Idea: • A series of increasingly restrictive laws angered many American colonists, leading to rebellion against Britain. • Why did Great Britain pass new laws in America? • How did the colonists respond to the new laws? How did their response lead to even stricter measures? • Why did the First Continental Congress meet? • What was the significance of the battles at Lexington and Concord?
Britain Passes New Laws The Stamp Act brings protests • Parliament passed the Stamp Act as another way to bring in money from the colonies. • Required a government tax stamp on certain documents: contracts and licenses, newspapers, almanacs, printed sermons, and playing cards • Colonists protested openly. • Stamp Act Congress organized by the Massachusetts Assembly to send a petition to the king and Parliament • Sons of Liberty, made up of unskilled workers, artisans, small farmers, merchants, and lawyers, organized boycott of British goods and put pressure on merchants who did not join the boycott. • Stamp Act repealed after British merchants saw sales drop because of the boycotts
Britain Passes New Laws Townshend Acts • Taxed lead, paint, paper, glass, and tea that were imported from Britain • Brought back writs of assistance, which were written orders that allowed customs officers the right to search colonial homes for smuggled goods • Quartering Act
The Colonists Respond • The Boston Massacre • Boston merchants joined with merchants in Philadelphia and New York, along with some southern merchants and planters, in non-importation agreements • Most of the Townshend Acts were repealed in March 1770, except for tea tax. • In Boston, where tensions were already high, colonists began throwing snowballs at a British sentry guarding the customs house. After British solders arrived to help, they fired into the crowd, killing five. • Samuel Adams introduced the idea of Committees of Correspondence to spread the news of British injustices from colony to colony. • Became basis of a political network to unify the colonies
Exports & Imports 1768-1783
The Colonists Respond • Colonial boycotts left a British tea company with millions of pounds of unsold tea. The Tea Act (1773) enabled the company to sell tea directly to colonists. • Many colonists did not buy the tea. • In December 1773 about 70 colonists boarded British ships loaded with the tea and dumped it into Boston Harbor. • Parliament passed the Coercive Acts to punish the rebellious colonists. They were known by the colonists as the Intolerable Acts. • Closed the port of Boston • Gave the royal governor more control over Massachusetts • Imposed more rules for quartering soldiers • The Quebec Act expanded the province of Quebec southward to the Ohio river and west to the Mississippi. • The Roman Catholic Church would be legal. • French Catholics were guaranteed their rights. • American colonists thought the act limited their chances to live on the western frontier.
The Real Causes • Real causes • Colonists had intellectual differences with British government (king vs. parliament) • Colonists had spirit of self-independence brought about by frontier life • Colonists believed in “democratic” form of government
The Real Causes • Colonist goals distinct from mother country • British victory in French/Indian War freed colonists of need for protection from French • 1763 - British move to tighten imperial control (station 10,000 soldiers along American frontier @ colonist expense)
The First Continental Congress September 1774 • Brought colonists together as Americans • All delegates agreed that Parliament was exerting too much control. • It issued a Declaration of Rights protesting Great Britain’s actions. • Agreed not to import or use British goods • Agreed to stop exports to Britain • Formed a force of minutemen, colonial soldiers who would be ready to resist a British attack with short notice
1. The Battles of Lexington and Concord • Minutemen in Massachusetts were drilling on their village commons and stockpiling gunpowder and weapons. • British General Gage knew colonial militias were preparing for a conflict. • In April 1775 King George III ordered Gage to arrest colonial leaders, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and to capture the colonists’ gunpowder. • Colonists’ gunpowder was stockpiled in Concord, a town west of Boston. • On the night of April 17, 1775, 700 British troops left Boston for Concord.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord • Secret system of alarm riders was in place to warn of any unusual activity of British troops. • Paul Revere and William Dawes set off for Lexington to warn Adams and Hancock. • After warning the leaders, they headed to Concord. Samuel Prescott, another alarm rider, met them on the road. Then the British surrounded them and tried to arrest all of them. • Prescott escaped to warn the minutemen at Concord. Dawes also escaped. • Revere was captured. When they heard the militia guns, the soldiers let Revere go, but without his horse.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord • The British went on to Concord where hundreds of minutemen awaited. • After gunfire was exchanged, the British retreated toward Boston. • Along the way, the militia fired at the British from under cover. • At the end of the day, British casualties far outnumbered colonial casualties. • About 700 armed British soldiers reached Lexington to face 70 minutemen. • British captain ordered them to leave, then the militia was charged. • Minutemen fled, eight Americans were killed.
Lexington and Concord Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Shot heard around the World” Paul Revere rode off to warn the colonists of the British that were marching the countryside. The British were forced to retreat and move back to Boston.
2. Fort Ticonderoga, NY ( May 1775) • Benedict Arnold & Ethan Allen with the Green Mountain Boys led a surprise attackon British fort. Americans took the fort along with ammunition.
The Second Continental Congress Takes Action • Formed the Continental Army • Appointed George Washington commander in chief • Issued a Continental (national) currency • Wrote A Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms • Proposed reconciliation with King George III in the Olive Branch Petition • King George III declared colonies to be in rebellion • Parliament passed law banning colonial trade outside the British Empire.
More Violence in Boston The siege of Boston • After the battles at Lexington and Concord, British troops withdrew back into Boston. • Several thousand British troops occupied the town. • The Americans had a larger army of about 15,000 militia from all over New England.
More Violence in Boston • First major battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 • British General Gage was planning to occupy the hills overlooking Boston when his reinforcements arrived. • Colonial force quickly built a fort on Breed’s Hill. • Some 2,500 British troops stormed the hill twice. • The colonists were short of ammunition; they waited until the enemy was a few yards away, then fired with deadly aim. • On the third British attempt, the colonists ran out of gunpowder. They retreated to nearby Bunker Hill. • The British won, but the defense at the Battle of Bunker Hill encouraged the colonists’ resistance. • Huge casualties on both sides
3. Battle at Bunker (Breed’s)Hill, MA ( June 1775) • British rush the hill and the colonists are forced to retreat due to lack of supplies. “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” –Colonel Prescott. • First major battle of the Revolution.
More Violence in Boston • Other battles • Winter 1775–1776, Benedict Arnold led an unsuccessful attack on the city of Quebec. • February 1776, Scottish Loyalists attacked a colonial force at Moores Creek, North Carolina. • Well-armed colonists were waiting, and their victory ended British control in North Carolina. • In June, British ships attacked a fort near Charleston, South Carolina, but the fort’s commander held them off. George Washington • Commanded the Continental Army in Boston after the Battle of Bunker Hill. • By March 1776, he was ready to recapture Boston. • Forced the British to evacuate the city • British sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with about 1,100 Loyalists; colonists sided with the king and Britain.
Phase I:The Northern Campaign[1775-1776]
British Strategy • Cut off the head of the snake (New England) by taking control of rivers and coast
American Strategyand Objectives • Population - 1/3 rebel, 1/3 loyalist, 1/3 indifferent. • Loyalists provided more support to England than rebels provided to Continental Army • Two wars - foreign war against major European power & civil war • Strategic defensive for most of war- use guerilla tactics and engage in a war of attrition
Definition of Terms • Attrition - gradual weakening • Guerilla warfare - “irregular” troops fighting small-scale, limited actions against larger orthodox military forces
The Declaration of Independence • More colonists supporting independence • Were angry at the king’s reaction to the Olive Branch Petition • They learned that the British were recruiting Native Americans and African Americans to fight against them. • They heard that the king was hiring mercenary soldiers from the German state of Hesse. • When the Continental Congress met again, it opened seaports to foreign trade except with Britain. • Revolutionary ideology • The colonists still thought of themselves as British. • They believed they were entitled to all the rights that British citizens had claimed over the years. • John Locke’s idea of natural rights was part of their revolutionary ideology.
The Declaration of Independence A matter of Common Sense • Early in 1776 Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense. • Condemned monarchy and particularly the rule of George III • Called for an American declaration of independence, not just a protest against taxes • The pamphlet sold more than 100,000 copies. It was one of the first American bestsellers.
The Declaration of Independence Virginia calls for independence • In May 1776 the Virginia Convention of Delegates issued the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the first official call for American independence. • Influenced the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and many state constitutions • Richard Henry Lee of Virginia then presented three resolutions to the Continental Congress. • The colonies should be independent. • Americans needed to form foreign alliances for support. • The colonies needed to form a plan for unification.
The Declaration of Independence • Writing the Declaration • The Continental Congress organized a committee to write a draft of a declaration of independence. • John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson was chosen to write the draft. • On July 2, 1776, Congress approved final document and voted to declare independence. • On July 4, they approved the entire document.
Reactions to Independence • Colonists living on the western frontier not a part of the political quarrels • A fight for independence would expose them to Indian attack since fighting would draw men away from the defense of the frontier. • Many frontier settlers did not support the fight for independence. • A quarter of the colonists remained loyal to Great Britain and the king; Patriots called them Loyalists. • Loyalists were strong in southern colonies. • Loyalist sympathies were strong among people who had been government officials or belonged to the Anglican Church. • Patriots harassed Loyalists. • Loyalists fought with the British. • Others left the country for other British lands. • Some simply lived quietly and avoided politics. • After the American Revolution ended, perhaps 100,000 Loyalists left the United States, mainly to settle in Canada.
The People behind the American Revolution Continental Army Strengths • Strong military leadership • Fighting on home territory • Alliance with France Weaknesses • Small, untrained military • Shortages of resources • Weak central government British Army Strengths • Well-trained military • Ample resources • Alliances with Loyalists Weaknesses • Fighting in unfamiliar territory • Fighting far from home
British Strategyand Objectives • British Ministry Plan: • Occupy territory to break up union of patriots • Blockade coast to prevent re-supply from sea • Destroy organized armies • Suppress Guerilla warfare • Rely on colonial loyalists for aid
British Strategyand Objectives • South of NY the line was Chesapeake Bay • Strong positions in Maryland and Virginia. • Attempt to isolate the middle from the south and prevent communication. • Controlling the south: Occupy Charleston and 2 or 3 points along the Santee River in SC.
British Strategy and Objectives • Plan actually carried out: • Make N.Y. City headquarters (occupy) • Secure from NYC to Hudson Valley to Canada • Cut off New England - hotbed of sedition and source of supplies, ideas, encouragement & reinforcements • Actually only held one port (Newport) in New England