At the first Continental Congress, they discussed the proposition that they should start training men and stockpiling weapons. The British got wind of it and decided to confiscate the weapons.
Many have heard of the story of Paul Revere; how he and William Dawes rode in from Boston to warn of the approaching soldiers. The distance between Boston and Lexington is no small journey, especially not on horse-back.
On April 12, 1775, The Brits arrived at Lexington to find the citizens already aware of their approach. They faced off. To this day it is unknown who fired the first shot that has come to be nick-named “the shot heard around the world;” nonetheless, it was fired. Though it is known today as The Battle of Lexington, it was not really a battle, but would be more properly classified as a “skirmish.” The colonists and the British fought for a short time, then the British retreated to Concord (which was their main targeted destination anyways.
There, the people had already hidden many of their firearms and were waiting outside the city. The British arrived, found them in this state, and proceeded into the city, leaving only a small party to guard the bridge. Inside, they discovered the firearms supplies and tried to destroy them; either by dumping them into the water, or by destroying it by means of smashing and-the-like (as they did to the cannons…rendering them un-usable.
The group of colonists waiting outside the city grew. They began to see smoke. Now over 400 men, they decided to go and check out what the British were doing; mind you, their intentions were allegedly peaceful…just for some random reason they were armed and had a leader. Hmm…
Upon approach, the British opened fire on them without warning or audible command. The colonist’s leader ordered them to retaliate. They colonist’s army grew and grew as more men continued to arrive. They destroyed both the group guarding the bridge and the British inside the city.
Then the colonists chased the surviving British army back to Boston and laid siege on them there for two months. George Washington led the colonial army (who drastically outnumbered the British, numbering 15,000 to 6,000).
On June 13 the colonists found out that the British were planning to capture the two hills near Boston. These hills would give the British an advantage, and yet, the colonists had not occupied them yet. However, when the colonists found out about the British’s plan, they hurried ahead of them and took the hills.
Thus, when the Brits came and found hills occupied, a battle ensued. The colonists eventually did have to retreat over the hill (Bunker Hill, after which the battle was named), but they only suffered 367 casualties. The Brits, on the other hand, suffered 1,054; a significant difference (especially so because they were already outnumbered greatly).
The British won the hills, and the claimed victory for it; but the colonists did not consider it to be their loss. Sure, the Brits had won the hills, but they had also lost a great deal more men and had instilled in the colonists a sense of courage and belief in their ability to hold off (for a time) the best trained army in the world.
The colonists did not want to fight. They wanted freedom. So, on July 5, they made a petition asking for a reduction of the Intolerable Acts; if the British would do that, then they would cease fire.
The King refused and pronounced them to be in rebellion.
With their requests denied, people began thinking about the concept of seceding from the British. Thomas Paine anonymously printed a pamphlet, Common Sense, describing this idea in 1776.
With more trust being put in the fighting ability of the colonial army, more soldiers were trained. During the early parts of the war, the colonists did very well, seizing Fort Ticonderoga (an important British fort in Canada, loaded with artillery that the colonists needed very badly), capturing British equipment as they proceeded to Quebec, and winning many of the fights they undertook. One of the amazing colonial fights happened when the colonists had to return to Fort Ticonderoga. There, they fought the battle of Valcour Island on Lake Chaplain. The British Navy was the largest and most experienced fleet in the world; however, the colonists, though they did have to retreat, were able to hold the British back for an amazingly long time.
In 1776, the colonists issued the Declaration of Independence. This demanded the cessation of the 13 British colonies. They were granted it, but now that they were independent, they had to fight to keep it. Otherwise, they would fall right back into British hands; quite possibly worse off than they were before.
The colonists were not alone, though. Actually, both the Spaniards, the Netherlands, and the French gave them aid. Since The Seven Years War there had been stress between France and Britain. France was more than willing to help them out…as long as it brought down the British. France did it secretly until the colonists pronounced independence.
But the British started to return with reinforcements. This is when things went turned a little south for the colonists. Due to a series of loses, New York was captured by the British. Now, Both Boston and New York were in the hands of Great Britain.
After a great start, the year 1776 wasn’t turning out so well for the colonists. Seemingly in an act of desperation, George Washington led the colonists across the frozen Delaware river on December 25, 1776. The very next day, he captured the British military city of Trenton.
Then in 1777, the colonists won a major victory at Saratoga when 5,700 British troops surrendered. This victory was led by Horatio Gates who had a rather interesting style of leading. He would sit out behind the side-lines and would command from there. Saratoga turned out pretty well, but he devastated his reputation in a later battle of Camden.
George Washington, Nathanael Green, Benedict Arnold, Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Knox, Baron von Steuben, Francis Marion, and the previously mentioned Horatio Gates are just a few of the most influential colonial leaders.
After Saratoga, the British would win some, then the colonists would win some; it kind of passed back and forth between them.
Then in 1778, France openly viewed the colonists as a separate country and so it was no longer required to help them in secret, they could do it publicly.
Now the colonists (who truly weren’t colonists any more) had a significant advantage on the Brits as they had all they army right there on the same continent, but the British army had to wait for long periods of time to get reinforcements and supplies.
The last battle that ended the Revolutionary war didn’t actually directly involve the colonists. It was a Naval battle fought between the French and British fleets. The British were returning with reinforcements for the holed-up British army, and the French were coming to the aid of the newly pronounced nation: United States of America. The French won the battle, and the war was basically over. There were a few other minor skirmishes, but those were mainly between parties were not aware that the war was over.
Britain signed various treaties with the Netherlands, the Spaniards, and also the French, but the treaty between the colonists and Great Britain was called the Treaty of Paris.
I apologize to the Ron Paul Curriculum for any direct quotes from the lectures that I may have accidentally put into writing. When I was writing down notes and historical facts several weeks ago, I don’t know if I rephrased the information in my own words, as I do now.
This is why I source you.
The Grade 8 Ron Paul History Course (Lessons 20-25)