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8.3: Revolutionary War Battles

  • Page ID
    7914
  • Most engagements, large and small, during the American Revolution took place in the Thirteen Colonies in revolt, a few in Canada, and some notable encounters at sea. The first engagement of the war, at Lexington and Concord, occurred before the Americans even had an official army or commander-inchief. The colonials, who had hoped to avoid war, found themselves pushed into it. A shot rang out at Lexington, fired by an unknown person, and the war began almost as an accident. The war ended six years later at Yorktown, not with a great battle, but rather with the ultimate surrender of the British who found themselves in a natural trap. Between Lexington in 1775 and Yorktown in 1781, hundreds of engagements occurred. Early in the war, the area around Boston and New York were the focus of the military efforts. But after three years of fighting, the British had made no great progress against George Washington and his Continental Army. Indeed, Washington’s army had grown into a stronger, more cohesive force as they gained experience with each battle. The British turned their attention to the South in what is known as the “Southern Strategy,” where they hoped that a combination of British and Loyalist forces together would be able to make headway in the war effort that had not been possible in the North. In 1778 the British captured Savannah, Georgia and began moving slowly northwards from there. Charleston fell to the British in 1780, giving the British control of the two major southern ports. The American forces were not idle in the South and had success against the British further inland, preventing the British from achieving the victories they needed to win the war. The following is a selection of some of the more notable engagements of the war, beginning just after Lexington and Concord and ending with Yorktown.

    8.3.1: Bunker Hill

    Date: June 16, 1775

    Location: Charlestown, Massachusetts Bay

    American commanders: Dr. Joseph Warren, General Israel Putnam, General William Prescott

    British commander: Major General Sir William Howe

    American Force: 2,400

    British Force: 3,000

    American losses: 115

    British losses: 226

    • A British Victory

    Following Lexington and Concord, Gage found himself trapped in Boston. His troops that had retreated to Charlestown with Percy had been brought back to Boston and more reinforcements had arrived from Britain, leaving Gage with an army stuck in the middle of a harbor while the mainland was in the control of the colonists in revolt. Gage needed to get out of Boston.

    Gage and his generals devised a plan to break out in June, 1775. To succeed, they would need to gain control of Charlestown, which they had essentially abandoned after bringing their troops back to Boston following Lexington and Concord. Charlestown was important because of its hills, Breed’s Hill and Bunker’s Hill. These hills offered a view of Boston and the harbor, making them strategically important and excellent locations for artillery batteries and observation posts

    In a replay of the preparations for Concord, once again Gage’s plans became known to the colonists before Gage could carry them out. On the night of June 16, General Prescott set out with 1,500 American troops to take Bunker’s Hill. Instead, for unknown reasons, Prescott took and fortified Breed’s Hill, creating an impressive earthwork overnight. The British were taken by surprise but determined to go ahead with their plan to take Charlestown.

    Major General Sir William Howe was given command of the British force. The Americans continued to work on their fortifications as the British prepared for their main attack. Americans were on both Breed’s Hill and Bunker’s, with the main concentration of troops and fortifications on Breed’s. The British Navy in the harbor began a bombardment of Breed’s Hill that was not particularly effective but did discourage more Americans from moving into positions there. The Americans were still working out the details of being an army, and so their force suffered from chain-of-command issues and organizational problems, resulting in units not being where they were most needed.

    As the Americans watched, Howe landed with 1,500 troops. He had believed that taking the hill would be a simple matter, so he planned a direct attack. After landing and seeing Americans on both hills, he asked for more reinforcements, bringing his total of men up to 3,000. The British began their attack in mid-afternoon. Just as at Lexington and Concord, the Americans had some troops firing independently from cover. They could not match the large numbers of British, but they could harass the British troops and unsettle them. Many of the colonists seemed to be around the town of Charlestown, so the British Navy set the little town on fire to drive the Americans out.

    The first two British assaults on Breed’s Hill were repulsed. The Americans, despite their difficulties, proved they could stand and fight. As the British approached in formation, the Americans opened fire, causing heavy casualties among the British, who retreated. The British had also fired, but the Americans had the advantage of fortified positions that gave them some cover. Howe had intended to use artillery on the American positions, but the British also suffered their share of organizational problems: they had brought the wrong ammunition for the cannon. Howe called up reinforcements and launched his third attack directly at the center of the Americans. Among the officers involved in the charge was Major Pitcairn, who had been wounded in the retreat from Concord. He was killed in the third assault on Breed’s Hill as the British again took casualties. The Americans began the day short on ammunition and paid for it with the third assault. Unable to fire, they could not prevent the British from overrunning their position. The British fixed bayonets and attacked the Americans, who had their guns but no shot and few swords or bayonets of their own. The Americans were forced to abandon Breed’s Hill. As they fell back, Joseph Warren, an important member of the revolutionary committee, was killed. The British pressed their advantage and drove the Americans from Bunker’s Hill and the Charlestown peninsula. The Americans retreated back to the mainland and Cambridge. About thirty Americans were captured by the British, and of these, twenty died in captivity, but not due to mistreatment. All those captured had been terribly wounded and so were left behind by the retreating Americans.

    This battle, which has long held the misnomer of Bunker’s Hill when it should be called Breed’s Hill, proved to the Americans that they could stand and face what was considered one of the best armies in the world. For the British, the cost of victory was terribly high. While they lost only 226 soldiers, they had over 800 wounded, including many officers. Technically the British won because they achieved their objective of driving the Americans out of Charlestown. However, the battle was a boost to American confidence while devastating to the British forces. As a result of this battle, the British government’s confidence in General Gage was lost, and he was removed from command. Somewhat ironically, the officer who would eventually be given Gage’s command was General Howe, who was responsible for the high casualty rate among the British by ordering frontal assaults against fortified positions.

    8.3.2: Quebec

    Date: December 31, 1775

    Location: Quebec, Quebec, Canada

    American commanders: Colonel Benedict Arnold, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Morgan, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery

    British commanders: Captain William DeLaPlace, General Sir Guy Carleton

    American Force: 1,200

    British Force: 1,800

    American losses: 48

    British losses: 5

    • A British Victory

    As the war progressed, the Americans sought to find new allies and reduce British options in North America. To this end, they invaded Canada and attempted to capture Quebec (the city, capital of Quebec the province). The British and the French had both sought to colonize Canada, with the British eventually succeeding. Still, many French remained and formed the Province of Quebec. Although under British control, the French Canadians of Quebec remained resoundingly French. To the Americans, these French Canadians appeared to be the perfect allies, as they had no love for the British. With that in mind, Colonel Benedict Arnold planned to capture Quebec and form an alliance with the French Canadians against the British.

    General George Washington supported the plan and assigned over 1,000 men for the campaign. Brigadier General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Arnold were in charge. They took two different routes to Quebec, with Montgomery traveling by Lake Champlain and Arnold coming through Maine. Each had to fight against British forces at points along the way as well as suffer from the journey through the wilderness before joining up at Quebec and preparing for the December attack.

    By December, the British forces at Quebec were isolated due to the weather; the St. Lawrence River was frozen. General Sir Guy Carleton knew of the impending attack, but with the frozen river could not expect reinforcements. Instead, he had to fortify Quebec and organize a defense with the few soldiers he had on hand. Montgomery had arrived in early December but did not have the resources to lay a proper siege. Still, he did what he could and sent demands for the surrender of the city, demands which were rejected. Even if the Americans had had enough supplies, time was against them. Arnold’s men were enlisted only to the end of December; then they would be free to leave. Even if they were convinced to stay, once spring came, reinforcements for the British would surely arrive as well. Montgomery felt he had to take Quebec in December if he was to take it at all.

    Montgomery and Arnold planned to attack Quebec from two different directions at the same time so as to force the defenders to divide and thereby weaken themselves. Montgomery attacked from the north while Arnold attacked the lower parts of the city. They hoped for a snowstorm to provide cover; instead, they got a blizzard that made advancing difficult. Montgomery led his men against the defensive works and managed to enter the city. As he led his men through Quebec, the defenders opened fire. Montgomery was killed with a shot to the head. Several of his men were also shot, so his troops quickly retreated back out of the city.

    Arnold had no way of knowing what happened to Montgomery while he was attacking a different area of the town. Arnold also was able to penetrate the defenses and enter Quebec. As he led his men through the town, Arnold was shot in the ankle when the defenders opened fire. His wound was so serious that he was unable to continue, a failure which turned out to be lucky for him. Command of Arnold’s men fell to Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Morgan, who led the men further into town. They found shelter where they were able to regroup but were soon trapped. Morgan was forced to surrender himself and his men. Arnold escaped, having been sent back due to his injury and was able to continue the siege of Quebec until March, despite the loss of men who were either captured or had deserted. The siege had little impact on Quebec, which was well supplied. Arnold was sent back to Montreal.

    The attempt to take Quebec was a failure. Not only did the Americans fail to take the city, they also failed to convince the French Canadians to join their cause. Arnold was promoted and given other commands before his personal conflicts would lead him to become the most famous traitor in American history.

    8.3.3: Long Island, also known as Brooklyn Heights

    Date: August 27, 1776

    Location: Brooklyn, New York

    American commander: General George Washington, Israel Putnam, William Alexander

    British commanders: Lord Charles Cornwallis, Sir Henry Clinton, Sir William Howe

    American Force: 10,000

    British Force: 20,000

    American losses: 300

    British losses: 64

    • A British Victory

    New York City’s location, large harbor, access to the Hudson River, infrastructure, and other resources made it a point of strategic importance in the Revolution. Holding New York City would give either side greater flexibility in troop and supply movements. Because of the city’s strategic importance, General George Washington had begun to prepare New York City’s defenses as soon as the British were driven from Boston in 1775.

    The American effort was hampered by lack of manpower and continued organizational difficulties. The Continental Army, as the American forces were called, drew units from all colonies, each bringing their own ideas on how to run an army. In addition, there were discipline problems with this army of unprofessional soldiers. Equipment shortages made it impossible to uniformly equip the soldiers. Only some had bayonets; others even lacked muskets. The uniforms varied from unit to unit and even within units. A Continental soldier might be found wearing a coat of some shade of blue, green, black, brown, even red or, instead of a coat, a hunting shirt of brown, buff, or purple. Bringing unity and discipline to the Continental Army and finding supplies and equipment were ongoing challenges at this point in the war.

    Realizing that the British would target New York City sooner or later, the Continentals set about constructing forts, entrenchments, and other fortifications at strategic points, particularly on Long Island. They also created obstacles in the water to reduce the threat from the formidable British Navy. But all the preparations were for naught. First the British fleet arrived with over 100 ships under the command of Admiral Richard Howe, the brother of the British commanding general, Sir William Howe. The sight of so many British naval vessels naturally caused concern, even panic, in the city. Then the British troops began arriving, landing first on Staten Island where they met little opposition. On August 22 the British moved to Long Island, which was well fortified and guarded, with the exception of the Jamaica Pass, which inexplicably was practically abandoned with only a token guard. To make matters worse, the information Washington received of the nature and number of the British force was completely inaccurate. Based on this poor intelligence, Washington did not grasp the true intentions of the British and did not prepare adequately for their attack.

    By August 26, the British had landed their full force of British and German mercenaries, known as Hessians, and prepared to attack the Americans. While about 4,000 British and Hessian troops maneuvered around the front of the American lines, convincing the Americans that they were the main British force, General Howe led the majority of the British troops through the Jamaica Pass by night with the intent to flank the Americans. Howe’s plan worked. The fighting on every front was brutal, but for most of the day the Americans had no idea where the main British force was attacking. By using his forces in separate but coordinated attacks, Howe was able to catch the Americans between his forces, pinching them and cutting them off from the rest of the Continentals and possible aid. The Continentals were forced to retreat towards the Brooklyn Heights. Howe’s army had essentially herded the Continentals. The advantage of Brooklyn Heights was its height, making it an excellent place for fortifications. Properly prepared and staffed, it would be a costly place to take by force. The disadvantage, however, was that getting off Brooklyn Heights could be just as difficult. Howe’s troops extended their lines to cut off Brooklyn Heights by land, laying siege to the Continental position. On the opposite side was the water of the East River— where the British Navy under Admiral Howe waited. Washington and most of his army had fallen into a trap.

    Both Washington and Howe realized Washington was trapped. Howe was content to settle down and have his men work steadily on trenches that would allow them to move closer to the American lines without taking unnecessary risks. Howe had every reason to believe time was on his side. Washington was still able to communicate with his forces over on Manhattan Island and requested reinforcements. Troops from Pennsylvania were sent in response. After a consultation with his officers, Washington’s bold plan involved having the new troops essentially pretend to be his entire army. In the dark and rain of the evening, Washington’s army prepared to leave in utter silence. The men were not allowed to speak; anything that might make a noise, including wagon wheels, was wrapped to muffle the sound. Stealth was of the utmost importance, and everyone in Washington’s army maintained unusual cooperation. The campfires were kept lit so the British would think the Americans were right where they should be; the British had used the same trick when they began their march to Jamaica Pass. The Pennsylvanians manned the battlements, making it appear that Washington’s troops were staying alert and in place. By morning, the rain turned to fog, making it difficult for the British to see the American positions. As the sun rose and burned away the fog, the British began to notice a lack of Americans watching them from the fortifications. By the time the British realized Washington was gone, he and his entire army of 9,000 soldiers were in Manhattan.

    As remarkable as Washington’s retreat was, it was still a retreat. The British had driven the Americans from Long Island and captured their fortified positions. The British celebrated their victory; nevertheless, their best chance of capturing Washington and ending the war had slipped away in the night after General Howe failed to press the attack when he had the chance. Still, Howe was hailed a hero and British confidence in a successful war rose.

    8.3.4: Battle of Trenton

    Date: December 26,1776

    Location: Trenton, New Jersey

    American commander: General George Washington

    British commander: Colonel Johann Rall of Hesse-Cassel

    American Force: 2,400

    British Force: 1,500 Hessians

    American losses: 2

    British losses: 22

    • An American Victory

    Screenshot (232).png
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): George Washington Crossing the Delaware | Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware prior to his attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, was a great success in America. artist: Emanuel Leutze Source: Library of Congress

    In a bold move, General George Washington crossed the Delaware, a miserably icy river, and landed near Trenton. The weather was so terrible that not all the American troops managed the crossing. Washington and his troops then marched approximately nine miles to Trenton. The Hessians had thought themselves safe from attack due to the bad weather. They were caught by surprise when Washington personally led his troops into Trenton. The Hessians fell back, but Washington had stationed troops to cut off their retreat before he advanced into Trenton. The Hessians fought with great discipline but were let down by their weapons when in several instances their guns would not fire. Washington’s troops kept up the pressure, following the Hessians through the street in house-to-house fighting. Colonel Rall, the commander of the Hessians, was mortally wounded, and all of the other Hessian colonels were killed during the battle. With the end of the battle, Washington captured not only the Hessian forces, but also much-needed supplies, weapons, and ammunition.

    The news of Washington’s victory at Trenton spread quickly throughout the colonies, boosting American morale at a time when it was most needed. The war had been going very badly for the Americans; victory was a welcome relief.

    8.3.5: Battle of Saratoga, NY

    Date: September 19-October 17, 1777

    Location: Saratoga County, New York

    American commander: Major General Horatio Gates and Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

    British commander: Major General John Burgoyne

    American Force: 12,000

    British Force: 6,600

    American losses: 90

    British losses: 440

    • An American Victory

    Major General John Burgoyne developed a plan to invade New England from his base in Canada. The purpose was to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies and subdue the region. After taking New England, the British would then be in a better position to take control of the rest of the rebellious colonies. Burgoyne intended to take Albany, New York, and with it control of the upper Hudson River, the lower Hudson already being under the control of the British at New York City.

    Nothing went as Burgoyne had planned. The success of his campaign depended on two British columns coming in from Canada, one of which he would command. The other column became engaged in facing American forces and so was unable to move down the Hudson. He had expected to have support from Indians; they abandoned Burgoyne. Men who were supposed to bring in supplies from Vermont encountered American forces and lost. Burgoyne’s own column was delayed in the wilderness, as he had not considered the difficulty of the terrain.

    The Americans under Major General Gates knew Burgoyne was coming down the Hudson River Valley, and Burgoyne’s troubles, which delayed his progress, gave Gates time to bring his own army to meet him. On September 19, the two armies collided unexpectedly. Americans had seen British troops moving across a nearby farm and attacked, thinking they were attacking skirmishers, not the main British force. Fighting continued throughout the day as more units became engaged in the battle. In the end, the Americans retreated, leaving Burgoyne the victor, but due to the heavy British losses and the Americans still holding control of the Hudson, it proved a hollow victory.

    Burgoyne decided to dig in. Instead of retreating or advancing, he pulled his army together and fortified his position. He was facing a larger American force, but he anticipated relief coming from General Henry Clinton at New York City. The relief never came; Clinton did move out, but he became occupied with other targets and never reached Saratoga. On October 3, Burgoyne cut the rations for his troops, as his supplies were now desperately short. On October 7, Burgoyne, having given up hope of Clinton’s arrival, tried to break away from the Americans with a flanking maneuver but failed and suffered great losses from the American counter-attack. Burgoyne pulled back to his fortified position. The American army continued to grow and moved to surround Burgoyne. With no relief coming, many wounded in need of care, his rations almost gone, and outnumbered by more than twoto-one, Burgoyne surrendered.

    The defeat of Burgoyne raised American morale across the colonies. Further, this American victory convinced the French to support the Americans both financially and militarily. For these reasons, Saratoga is often considered a turning point in the war. With French involvement in the war, the British were forced to turn their attention to both to the West Indies and Europe, distracting them from their previous focus on the nowindependent American states.

    Saratoga has one other point of significance in American history. Benedict Arnold’s personal morale took a blow at Saratoga. Arnold had been passed over for command and felt that he was not being given credit for his achievements, his glory instead stolen by others. At Saratoga, Gates had planned to sit and wait for Burgoyne to come to him. Arnold had insisted on sending out men, including the ones that first encountered Burgoyne’s troops, yet Arnold was not mentioned in Gates’s report to Congress about the actions of September 19. Arnold reacted poorly, shouting at Gates, and was relieved of command. He then sat in his tent until he joined the action on October 7 without authorization from Gates. Arnold was wounded in the leg and spent months recovering from his injury, during which time he became increasingly embittered. After he recovered, Washington made Arnold the military governor of Philadelphia. Again Arnold fell into controversy, but he also fell in love and married a woman from a Loyalist family. Feeling continually slighted by Americans and associating increasingly with Loyalists, Arnold crossed the line and committed treason.

    8.3.6: Siege of Charleston

    Date: March 29-May 12, 1780

    Location: Charleston, South Carolina

    American commander: Major General Benjamin Lincoln

    British commander: General Sir Henry Clinton

    American Force: 5,466

    British Force: 13,500

    American losses: 76

    British losses: 92

    • A British Victory

    General Clinton sailed from New York, determined to take Charleston, an important American harbor in the Southern colonies. Clinton knew Charleston’s harbor was well fortified; the defensive works there had been decades in the making. So, instead of a direct assault, Clinton planned to take Charleston by going overland rather than by sailing directly into the harbor.

    His forces landed a few days’ march south of Charleston on February 11 and began the trek to their target. The fleet sailed back up the coast, coming in to provide supplies to the forces on land. Once Clinton’s force reached the Charleston area, they set about attacking and occupying strategic locations around the harbor and the rivers that flow into it.

    The British fleet began moving into the harbor on March 20 in coordination with the movements of the army units on land. The American naval commander, seeing the size of the British fleet, sank his own ships near the entrance of the Cooper River. This action created a water hazard and prevented the British from taking the American ships.

    By April 14, the British successfully cut Charleston off from the rest of the state. No relief for the Americans was expected, yet still the Americans held out a few days longer. Then on April 21, the American commander, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, offered to surrender with honor. Clinton refused. His forces had Charleston under control and time was on his side. Over the next several days, the Americans would try again to surrender with honor and again be refused. Finally, on May 11, Clinton ordered an artillery barrage using “hot shot”—cannon balls that have been heated so that they can cause fires when they hit flammable material, such as a wooden building. Lincoln surrendered without condition only hours after the barrage began.

    The Siege of Charleston may well be the best designed and executed plan by the British during the war. The victory was complete, marking the worst defeat for the Americans of any engagement in the war. Charleston would prove to be a high tide mark for the British in the South. After this, while they would still win some battles, the campaign would be long and difficult, eventually ending at Yorktown.

    8.3.7: Cowpens

    Date: January 17, 1781

    Location: Cowpens, Spartanburg County, SC

    American commander: Brigadier General Daniel Morgan

    British commander: Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton

    American Force: 1,912

    British Force: 1,150

    American losses: 25

    British losses: 110

    • An American Victory

    Cowpens, as the name suggests, was a large cow pasture of approximately 500 square yards in size. This wide open pasture was kept clear of brush, weeds, and grass by cattle, making it a good site for a battle. Brigadier General Morgan and his men were being pursued by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton. Morgan reached Cowpens and set up camp. The nearby Broad River was running high due to recent rains, making it difficult to cross. Morgan’s army had its flank to the Broad River and turned to face Tarleton’s oncoming forces. On paper, Morgan would appear neatly trapped. In fact, Morgan had worked out a careful plan to use the terrain to his advantage. In some battles, inexperienced troops panicked and fled. His had nowhere to run, thanks to the river. He knew that Tarleton was an experienced and very aggressive officer, and he knew that, while his own army had a chance to rest while waiting for Tarleton, Tarleton was pushing his troops hard. By the time Tarleton reached Cowpens, his army was hungry and exhausted. Tarleton, hearing of Morgan’s position against the river, did exactly as Morgan expected and formed up, focused on Morgan’s center. Morgan deployed his least experienced troops first and then had them fall back, letting his more experienced soldiers deal with the British when they approached close to his position. Morgan’s riflemen intentionally targeted the British officers, creating confusion in the British lines. As the Americans maneuvered, pulling units back, the British pressed forward only to encounter other Americans they had not expected and were forced to fall back themselves. Once the British had been pulled out of position, Morgan went on the offensive. The colonists charged with bayonets, catching the British by surprise. More American units engaged, and the British lines broke. By this point, Tarleton was widely hated by the Americans because it was believed that he intentionally killed Americans who had already surrendered. Some at Cowpens sought revenge, bayoneting British soldiers who surrendered, in a move called “Tarleton’s Quarter.” The American officers stepped in and stopped it as best they could. Tarleton and the remains of his army retreated back to the main British force under Cornwallis.

    8.3.8: Yorktown

    Date: September 28-October 19, 1781

    Location: Yorktown, Virginia

    American commander: General George Washington

    British commander: Lieutenant General Lord William Cornwallis

    American Force: 11,133 and 7,800 French

    British Force: 8,885

    American losses: 23 and 65 French

    British losses: 156

    • An American Victory

    Following the brutal battle of Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis moved his army to Yorktown and Gloucester Point, Virginia with the intention of securing a port and having his troops removed by the British Navy. His army needed relief after their long campaign in the South, so, after reaching Yorktown, they settled in, built defensive works, and waited for the British Navy. To reach Cornwallis, the British Navy needed to sail into the Chesapeake Bay, then up the York River to Yorktown, located on a peninsula formed by the York River on the north, the Chesapeake Bay on the east, and the James River on the south. Gloucester is on the opposite side of the York River.

    Cornwallis believed that General Washington was occupied at New York and that the other American and French forces were not a significant threat. He did not know until too late that a French fleet was sailing to the Chesapeake Bay, nor did he know that Washington, having been informed of Cornwallis’s location at Yorktown, was bringing his army with all speed to meet him. For these reasons, Cornwallis maintained his position at Yorktown, allowing his army to be trapped instead of moving to a position further west, which would have allowed him to maneuver away from an advancing enemy force.

    The French and British fleets met and the British were defeated, leaving the French in control of the bay and able to blockade the York River.

    The American and French armies combined at Williamsburg, Virginia. On September 28, they marched down the peninsula to Yorktown and laid siege to Cornwallis’s army, effectively blocking Cornwallis from moving west. His army was trapped on the peninsula. His small force at Gloucester was also surrounded. Relief from Lieutenant General Henry Clinton had been promised, but in Cornwallis’s view would not arrive in time. On October 16, Cornwallis planned a breakout that would move his army across the York River to Gloucester Point, but the plan, his last hope, failed. Washington offered terms of surrender, and Cornwallis accepted, officially surrendering his army on October 19, 1781. This battle was the last major action of the American Revolution.

    Screenshot (233).png
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Surrender of Cornwallis | The siege of Yorktown was the last major action of the Revolutionary War. The British defeat led to surrender and the end of the War. artist: John Trumbull Source: Architect of the Capitol

    8.3.9: Before You Move On...

    Key Concepts

    The Americans began the war without a professional army and ended it by defeating one of the finest militaries of the age. Mistakes and acts of cruelty were committed by both sides. The conditions for the soldiers were often brutal, particularly when fighting in winter. One factor of paramount importance to the American victory was the diplomatic alliance between the American states and the French. Coming into the war on the side of the Americans after the Battle of Saratoga, the French forces offered much-needed relief to the American troops and turned the American War into one with a global scope. This participation would have a crucial impact on France as the war debt and resulting fiscal depression would lead in less than ten years to the French Revolution and the end of the old regime in Europe.

    Test Yourself

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    One of the most important results of the American victory at Saratoga was

    a. the Hessian removal from the British force.

    b. the French participation in the war on the side of the British.

    c. the French participation in the war on the side of the Americans.

    d. the end of the war.

    Answer

    c

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

    The siege of Charleston was well conducted.

    a. True

    b. False

    Answer

    a

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

    Famous for leading his troops against the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey was

    a. General George Washington.

    b. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.

    c. Major Benedict Arnold.

    d. Major General Benjamin Lincoln.

    Answer

    a

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)

    Benedict Arnold is America’s most famous traitor.

    a. True

    b. False

    Answer

    a

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