American Revolutionary War

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American Revolutionary War
Map of the American Revolutionary War 1775 then 1783.jpg
DateApril 19, 1775 - September 3, 1783
Result American-Allied Victory

Thirteen Colonies
United States
Vermont Republic
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of Spain


Dutch Republic
Kingdom of Mysore

Kingdom of Great Britain
Electorate of Hanover


Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel
Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont
Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst
Commanders and leaders

George Washington
Thomas Chittenden
Louis XVI
Charles III

William V
Hyder Ali
Tipu Sultan

George III)
Lord North
Lord George Germain

Frederick II
Friedrich Karl August
Charles I
Charles William Ferdinand
Charles Alexander
Frederick Augustus
Units involved
Continental Army
Continental Navy
Connecticut State Navy
Georgia State Navy
Pennsylvania Navy
French Navy
Spanish Navy
British Army
British Navy
British Militia
German Auxiliary Forces

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence in 1776 as the United States of America, and then formed a military alliance with France in 1778.


After 1765, growing constitutional and political differences strained the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies. Patriot protests against taxation without representation followed the Stamp Act and escalated into boycotts, which culminated in 1773 with the Sons of Liberty destroying a shipment of tea in Boston Harbour. Britain responded by closing Boston Harbour and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts colonists responded with the Suffolk Resolves, and they established a shadow government which wrested control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress (with the exception of Georgia) to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that effectively seized power.

British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in Concord led to open combat and a British defeat on April 19, 1775. Militia forces then besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776, and Congress appointed George Washington to command the Continental Army. Concurrently, the Americans failed decisively in an attempt to invade Quebec and raise insurrection against the British. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4. Sir William Howe launched a British counter-offensive, capturing New York City and leaving American morale at a low ebb. However, victories at Trenton and Princeton restored American confidence. In 1777, the British launched an invasion from Quebec under John Burgoyne, intending to isolate the New England Colonies. Instead of assisting this effort, Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, and Burgoyne was decisively defeated at Saratoga in October 1777.

Burgoyne's defeat had drastic consequences. France formally allied with the Americans and entered the war in 1778, and Spain joined the war the following year as an ally of France but not as an ally of the United States. In 1780, the Kingdom of Mysore attacked the British in India, and tensions between Great Britain and the Netherlands erupted into open war. In North America, the British mounted a "Southern strategy" led by Charles Cornwallis which hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, but too few came forward. Cornwallis suffered reversals at King's Mountain and Cowpens. He retreated to Yorktown, Virginia, intending an evacuation, but a decisive French naval victory deprived him of an escape. A Franco-American army led by the Comte de Rochambeau and Washington then besieged Cornwallis' army and, with no sign of relief, he surrendered in October 1781.

Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tories in Parliament, and the surrender gave them the upper hand. In early 1782, Parliament voted to end all offensive operations in America, but the war continued overseas. Britain remained under siege in Gibraltar but scored a major victory over the French navy. On September 3, 1783, the belligerent parties signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain agreed to recognise the sovereignty of the United States and formally end the war. French involvement had proven decisive, but France made few gains and incurred crippling debts. Spain made some territorial gains but failed in its primary aim of recovering Gibraltar. The Dutch were defeated on all counts and were compelled to cede territory to Great Britain. In India, the war against Mysore and its allies concluded in 1784 without any territorial changes.

Belligerents, Leaders & Commanders

Thirteen American Colonies/United States and Allies

Major Belligerents

The Thirteen American Colonies (1607–1776), also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen Colonies, were a group of colonies of Great Britain on the Atlantic coast of America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776.

The Vermont Republic or the Republic of New Connecticut was a country that existed from 1777 to 1791. It was located on land that was claimed by New York and New Hampshire. It had its own postal system, military, and currency. Even though it had a government, it was not respected by England or the Continental Congress.

The Kingdom of France (987-1848) was a state in Western Europe. It was among the most powerful states in the world and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.

The Kingdom of Spain (1479-present), is a country located in Southern Europe, with two small exclaves in North Africa (both bordering Morocco). It is the largest of the three sovereign nations that make up the Iberian Peninsula—the others are Portugal and the microstate of Andorra. During the late 14th century until the early 17th century the Spanish Empire was a superpower.

Co-belligerents allies

The Dutch Republic, was a confederal republic formally established from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. For most of the 17th century it was a major naval power. It was a preceded by the Spanish Netherlands and succeeded by the Batavian Republic.

The Kingdom of Mysore (1399–1948) was a kingdom in southern India, traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. During the 18th century under the rule Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan it came into conflict with the Marathas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Kingdom of Travancore and the British, which culminated in the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. Success in the first Anglo-Mysore war and a stalemate in the second was followed by defeat in the third and fourth. Following Tipu's death in the fourth war of 1799, large parts of his kingdom were annexed by the British, which signalled the end of a period of Mysorean hegemony over southern Deccan

Civil and Government Leaders

United States
  • President of the Continental Congress – Head of the Second Continental Congress – (1775 - 1781) and later Congress of the Confederation – (1781-1789).
  • Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the United States of America – Robert R. Livingston – Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs – (1781 - 1783).
  • Secretary of War United States of America – Benjamin Lincoln – Head of the War Office – (1781 - 1783).
  • Secretary of the Navy – Continental Congress – Civilian Head of the Continental Navy – (1775 - 1784)
  • Superintendent of Finance of the United States – Robert Morris Jr. – Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs – (1781 - 1785).
  • Ambassador of the United States to France – Benjamin Franklin – (1778 – 1785)
  • Ambassador of the United States to Spain – John Jay – (1779 – 1782)
Vermont Republic
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of Spain
  • King of Spain – Charles III of Spain – Head of State Kingdom of Spain – (1774 - 1792).
  • Chief Minister of Spain – Jerónimo Grimaldi, 1st Duke of Grimaldi – (1763 - 1777).
  • Chief Minister of Spain – Jose Moñino y Redondo, 1st Count of Floridablanc – (1777 - 1792).
  • Viceroy of New Granada – (1775 - 1783)
  • Viceroys of New Spain – (1775 - 1783)
  • Minister of the West Indies – Jose de Galvez, 1st Marquess of Sonora – – (1777 - 1788).
  • Spanish Ambassador to France – Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea y Jiménez de Urrea, 10th Count of Aranda – (1777 - 1792).
  • Spanish Ambassador to United States – Diego de Gardoqui

Senior Military Commanders

Thirteen American Colonies/United States
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of Spain

Kingdom of Great Britain and Allies

Major Belligerents

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 1 January 1801. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and Kingdom of Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain it was the primary state of the British Empire from formation.

The Electorate of Hanover (1692-1814) was an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in northwestern Germany and taking its name from the capital city of Hanover. It was formally known as the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg. For most of its existence, the electorate was ruled in personal union with Great Britain following the Hanoverian Succession.

Co Allies

The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, spelled Hesse-Cassel during its entire existence, was a state in the Holy Roman Empire that was directly subject to the Emperor. The state was created in 1567 and existed until 1803.

The County of Hesse-Hanau was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire. It emerged when the former county of Hanau-Münzenberg become a secundogeniture of Hesse-Cassel in 1760. When the reigning count, William IX, also became landgrave of Hesse-Cassel in 1785, the two governments began to merge, although the process was delayed first by French occupation, and later by incorporation into the French satellite duchy of Frankfurt. The incorporation of Hesse-Hanau with Hesse-Cassel was not completed until 1821.

The Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont was a state of the Holy Roman Empire and its successors from the late 12th century until 1929. In 1349 the county gained Imperial immediacy and in 1712 was raised to the rank of Principality. After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 it was a constituent state of its successors: the Confederation of the Rhine, the German Confederation, the North German Confederation, the German Empire and, until 1929, the Weimar Republic. It comprised territories in present-day Hesse and Lower Saxony, (Germany).

The Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel The Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was a subdivision of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg established in 1269, whose history was characterised by numerous divisions and reunifications. Various dynastic lines of the House of Welf ruled Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. As a result of the Congress of Vienna, its successor state, the Duchy of Brunswick, was created in 1815.

The Principality of Ansbach was a free imperial principality in the Holy Roman Empire centered on the Franconian city of Ansbach. The ruling Hohenzollern princes of the land were known as margraves, as the principality was a margraviate (but not a march). It existed from 1398 to 1791.

The Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the House of Ascania, with its residence at Zerbst in present-day Saxony-Anhalt. It emerged as a subdivision of the Principality of Anhalt from 1252 until 1396, when it was divided into the principalities of Anhalt-Dessau and Anhalt-Köthen. Recreated in 1544, Anhalt-Zerbst finally was partitioned between Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Köthen, and Anhalt-Bernburg in 1796 upon the extinction of the line.

Civil and Government Leaders

Great Britain

Senior Military Commanders


Naval Theatre

The War of the American Independence saw a series of military manoeuvres and battles involving naval forces of the British Royal Navy and the Continental Navy from 1775, and of the French Navy from 1778 onwards. While the British enjoyed more numerical victories these battles culminated in the surrender of the British Army force of Lieutenant-General Earl Charles Cornwallis, an event that led directly to the beginning of serious peace negotiations and the eventual end of the war. From the start of the hostilities, the British North America Station under Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves blockaded the major colonial ports and carried raids against patriot communities. Colonial forces could do little to stop these developments due to British naval supremacy. In 1777, colonial privateers made raids into British waters capturing merchant ships, which they took into French and Spanish ports, although both were officially neutral. Seeking to challenge Britain, France signed two treaties with America in February 1778, but stopped short of declaring war on Britain. The risk of a French invasion forced the British to concentrate its forces in the English Channel, leaving its forces in North America vulnerable to attacks.

France officially entered the war on 17 June 1778, and the French ships sent to the Western Hemisphere spent most of the year in the West Indies, and only sailed to the Thirteen Colonies from July until November. In the first Franco-American campaign, a French fleet commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte Charles Henri Hector d'Estaing attempted landings in New York and Newport, but due to a combination of poor co-ordination and bad weather, d'Estaing and Vice-Admiral Lord Richard Howe naval forces did not engage during 1778. After the French fleet departed, the British turned their attention to the south. In 1779, the French fleet returned to assist American forces attempting to recapture Savannah from British forces., however failing leading the British victors to remain in control till late 1782.

In 1780, another fleet and 6,000 troops commanded by Lieutenant-General Comte Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau, landed at Newport, and shortly afterwards was blockaded by the British. In early 1781, General George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau planned an attack against the British in the Chesapeake Bay area coordinated with the arrival of a large fleet commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte François Joseph Paul de Grasse from the West Indies. British Vice-Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, who had been tracking de Grasse around the West Indies, was alerted to the latter's departure, but was uncertain of the French admiral's destination. Believing that de Grasse would return a portion of his fleet to Europe, Rodney detached Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and 15 ships of the line with orders to find de Grasse's destination in North America. Rodney, who was ill, sailed for Europe with the rest of his fleet in order to recover, refit his fleet, and to avoid the Atlantic hurricane season. British naval forces in North America and the West Indies were weaker than the combined fleets of France and Spain, and, after much indecision by British naval commanders, the French fleet gained control over Chesapeake Bay, landing forces near Yorktown. The Royal Navy attempted to dispute this control in the key Battle of the Chesapeake on 5 September but Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves was defeated. Protected from the sea by French ships, Franco-American forces surrounded, besieged and forced the surrender of British forces commanded by General Cornwallis, concluding major operations in North America. When the news reached London, the government of Lord Frederick North fell, and the following Rockingham ministry entered into peace negotiations. These culminated in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which King George III recognised the independence of the United States of America.

Actions and Battles