Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1775: The Start of the American Revolutionary War

As probably a lot of other people, I always considered 1776 to be the important, definitive year of the American Revolution. It’s the year of the Declaration of Independence. I gave short shrift to 1775, although that year defined the independence that so many Americans wanted and were willing to wage war to achieve.

1775 absolutely changed the relationship between Great Britain and America forever. Not that there weren’t many people who desperately remained loyal to Great Britain and King George III. But those who did became the enemy of the Patriots who were ready to fight. As yet there was no army to speak of, but when George Washington, after much controversy, was appointed General, that gradually changed. Farmers were “Minutemen”, ready to fight at any minute; militias were mobilized to take on the well-trained professional British troops.

In 1775, colonies, particularly Massachusetts, were no longer content to be obedient subject of their British masters. The time of revolution had come. Incidents such as the Boston Tea Party were behind them. Pitched battles were the order of the day.

What the revolutionaries achieved in 1775 is, in retrospect, absolutely amazing. The American forces had practically nothing. They were a skeleton force, with hardly ever sufficient ammunition or much else, for that matter. Discipline had yet to be established. But our fighters had firm resolve, courage, and cunning. The British realized that they were not going to have a quick victory over their audacious American enemy.

The Second Continental Congress’s agenda for formally declaring Independence in 1776 could never have been realized without the tumultuous year preceding it.

April 19, 2010, was a big day in Boston. The running of the Marathon set a new time record. The day also commemorated what is officially designated as the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Boston area. There was nothing unexpected about the fighting location. Already there were British occupying troops, the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party; the British considered by now the Boston area to be at the root of all her colonial problems. Boston residents were anti-British and quarrelsome; they could degenerate into mob action at a moment’s notice, encouraged by powerful agitators such as Sam Adams.

The British at Lexington and Concord had the primary objective of capturing American weapons and ammunition. If they could do this secretly, it might put the American forces out of commission, given our chronic shortage of arms. If the British could also lay their hands on Adams and Hancock, so much the better.

None of these plans worked. The arms had been moved elsewhere and Revere had done a good job warning Adams and Hancock. Secrecy was not very effective against the canny and treacherous Bostonians. Other pitched battles such as Bunker Hill followed quickly. A real war was on. – Renata Breisacher Mulry

This period of the American Revolutionary War is well documented. I found some sources to be particularly interesting and easy to follow. Military history can get quite complicated. Here are a couple of useful citations:
American Battlefields. Hubbard Cobb. McMillan USA. 1995. 382 pp. Emphasis on maps and illustrations. Covers all wars. Amazon | AbeBooks |

Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. John Ferling. Oxford University Press. 2007. 679 pp. Covers the whole war in as much detail that one could possibly find in a single volume. I think this is a must-have for the subject. Amazon | AbeBooks |

Notable American Battles in 1775
Lexington and Concord, Boston area | April 19
Capture of Fort Ticonderoga | May 10
Control of Lake Champlain
Bunker Hill | June 16 -17
Invasion of Canada
Montgomery Captures Montreal | November 13
Assault on Quebec | December 31

Although the American forces committed significant troops in Canada and there were many maneuvers, our invasion of Canada ultimately failed. The War in the South was predominantly a conflict between Patriots and Loyalists.

1 comment:

Friends of 1776 Team said...

Many people must have been involved with stashing the war materiel. Sounds pretty exciting.