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Portal:American Revolutionary War

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The American Revolutionary War Portal

Clockwise from top left: Battle of Bunker Hill, Death of Montgomery at Quebec, Battle of Cowpens, "Moonlight Battle"
The American Revolutionary War began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united former British colonies on the North American continent, and ended in a global war between several European great powers. The war was the culmination of the political American Revolution and intellectual American Enlightenment, whereby the colonists rejected the right of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them without representation. In 1775, revolutionaries gained control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, set up an alliance called the Second Continental Congress, and formed a Continental Army. Petitions to the king to intervene with the parliament on their behalf resulted in Congress being declared traitors and the states in rebellion the following year. The Americans responded by formally declaring their independence as a new nation, the United States of America, claiming sovereignty and rejecting any allegiance to the British monarchy. In 1777 the Continentals captured a British army, leading to France entering the war on the side of the Americans in early 1778, and evening the military strength with Britain. Spain and the Dutch Republic – French allies – also went to war with Britain over the next two years.

Throughout the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside (where 90% of the population lived) largely eluded them due to their relatively small land army. French involvement proved decisive, with a French naval victory in the Chesapeake leading to the surrender of a second British army at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.

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Royal Savage is shown run aground and burning, while British ships fire on her (watercolor by unknown artist, ca. 1925).
The naval Battle of Valcour Island took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The battle is generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the first fought by the United States Navy. The Continental Army had retreated from Quebec to Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point in June 1776 after British forces were massively reinforced. They spent the summer of 1776 fortifying those forts, and building additional ships to augment the small American fleet already on the lake. British General Guy Carleton had a 9,000-man army at Fort Saint-Jean, but needed to build a fleet to carry it on the lake. By early October, the British fleet, which significantly outgunned the American fleet, was ready for launch. On October 11, Benedict Arnold drew the British fleet to the strait between Valcour Island and the western shore, a position he had carefully chosen to limit British advantages. In the battle that followed, many of the American ships were damaged or destroyed. That night, Arnold snuck the American fleet past the British one, beginning a retreat toward Crown Point and Ticonderoga. Unfavorable weather hampered the American retreat, and more of the fleet was either captured or grounded and burned before it could reach Crown Point. Upon reaching Crown Point Arnold had the fort's buildings burned and retreated to Ticonderoga.


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Boston, 1775bsmall1.png
Credit: Durova
A 1777 map showing the British fortifications in the 1775 Siege of Boston.

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Gen. Sir William Howe.jpg
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (10 August 1729 – 12 July 1814) was a British army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence. Following a distinguished military career in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War (where he served with distinction in North America), Howe was again sent to North America in March 1775, arriving in May after the Revolutionary War broke out. After leading British troops to a costly victory in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Howe took command of all British forces in America from Thomas Gage in September of that year. Howe's record in North America was marked by the successful capture of both New York City and Philadelphia. However, poor British campaign planning for 1777 contributed to the failure of John Burgoyne's Saratoga campaign, which played a major role in the entry of France into the war. Howe's role in developing those plans, and the degree to which he was responsible for British failures that year (despite his personal success at Philadelphia), has been a subject of contemporary and historic debate.

He resigned his post as Commander in Chief, North America, in 1778, and returned to England, where he continued to be active in the defence of the British Isles. He served for many years in Parliament, and was knighted after his successes in 1776. He inherited the Viscountcy of Howe upon the death of his brother Richard in 1799. He married, but had no children, and the viscountcy was extinguished with his death in 1814.


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The Romney breaking up in 1804
HMS Romney was a 50-gun fourth rate of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1762, the Romney spent most of her early career in North American waters, serving on the Newfoundland station, often as the flagship of the commander-in-chief. The ship was involved in the tensions of the American Revolution when she was sent to support the Boston commissioners enforcing the Townshend Acts in 1768. Her actions involved impressing local sailors, confiscating the merchant ship Liberty (a vessel belonging to John Hancock), and providing a refuge for the unpopular commissioners when rioting broke out after the seizure. She was active in the American War of Independence, serving in European waters from 1779. She assisted in the defense of the British Isles against a planned Franco-Spanish invasion, assisted in the capture of a Spanish frigate, and participated in the inconclusive 1781 Battle of Porto Praya. She later served in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in a career that spanned forty years, finally breaking up after running aground off the Dutch coast in 1804.


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From the American Revolutionary War task force of the Military history WikiProject:

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Quebec in the American Revolution
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many existing "<State> in/during the American Revolution" articles • Hercules Mulligan
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1780 Black Camp RebellionAlbemarle BarracksBattle of Lenud's FerryBattle of Wetzell's MillCarleton's RaidCortlandt SkinnerDaniel Waters (minuteman)Fort DaytonFort Independence (Vermont)HM galley PigotJohn Swift (general)King's Royal Regiment of New YorkMatthias OgdenSamuel Holden ParsonsVolunteers of Ireland
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Battles in {{Campaignbox American Revolutionary War: Gulf Coast}} • Peter FranciscoAaron BurrCharles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess CornwallisContinental Army
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