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Transcript of Revolutionary War
The Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775. It was the first formal battle of the Revolutionary War. British commander Thomas Gage concentrated his forces in Boston, MA. After the British reinforcements arrived from England in May, Gage planned to break the siege by capturing Dorchester Heights. But soon, Americans learned about their plan about capturing Dorchester Heights, and they decided to fortify the Charlestown peninsula to delay the British assault. On the night of June 16, 1775, about 1,600 American troops under Col. William Prescott moved into Breed’s Hill. They began to build a redoubt on the hill. By the dawn, it was 6 feet high. British tried to attack to the fortification in the morning, but Gen. Sir William Howe had to delay the attack because they needed the ship to transport 2,200 British troops and the ammunition, and to use the ships, they had to wait for the high tide. Their delay gave the American to strengthen their position. The first British assault came at around 3:00 PM. An attempt to defeat the Americans by light infantry was beaten by heavy fire by the Americans. A simultaneous frontal attack was also defeated. But, by the third attack, Americans were low on ammunition. When the British finally broke into the redoubt, American troops retreated. Despite the fire from the British war ships, the Americans were able to withdraw from Charlestown peninsula. The battle of Bunker Hill was considered to be British victory, but British had more casualties than Americans. British totaled 1,054 casualties, including 226 killed. On the other hand, American casualties were 140 dead, 271 wounded, and 30 captured (310 casualties). Although the American troops lost at the Battle of Bunker Hill, it showed that the Americans could stand up to the strongest army in the world.
The Declaration of Independence
When the war first began, not very many colonists wanted independence, but Parliament would not repeal the unfair acts. The colonists would be forced to fight for their rights. However, in order to have any chance of winning, they would need their own government and foreign aid, a step that not all the colonies were willing to take. In January of 1776, Thomas Paine wrote an influential pamphlet, dubbed “Common Sense,” that was read by many, and, after a few months, some colonies began wanting independence, declaring themselves independent and authorizing their delegates at the Second Continental Congress to vote for independence. On June 7, 1776, Virginian delegate Richard Henry Lee proposed to the SCC that the colonies declare independence, but because not all of the colonies were set on becoming independent, the SCC postponed the vote until July 1. It also formed a committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman to begin writing the Declaration of Independence in case they voted in favor of independence. In essence, it was a document that declared the colonies a nation independent of Britain and free to establish their own government. Thomas Jefferson was the main writer of the Declaration, writing the first draft by himself. Thomas Paine’s writings influenced the concept of the Declaration, giving Jefferson a basis upon which to form the reasons for which the colonies had the right to be independent. John Locke’s and many other English philosophers’ ideas also influenced the writing of the Declaration. In the Declaration, Jefferson outlined the natural rights of humans, the responsibility of a government, and what Parliament had done badly as a governing body. This first draft was edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and then passed on to the SCC on June 28. A preliminary vote on July 1 found 9 colonies in favor of independence, while at the final vote on July 2, with New York refusing to vote, 12 colonies favored independence. For the next two days, the SCC edited the document, taking out the part blaming the King for abusing slaves, as the colonists used them as well. Finally, on July 4 the Declaration was ratified and distributed throughout the 13 colonies. All 13 colonies had approved by July 9, and on August 9, 1776, 50 of the delegates signed the Declaration of Independence, those who were not present signing later and totaling 56 signatures.
The Battles of Saratoga
The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point of the Revolutionary war. In the spring of 1777, British general John Burgoyne made a plan to cut New York from the rest of the American colonies. Burgoyne was so far very successful in his plan. But things started to fall apart. Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger and his troops fled because larger colonial troops were coming. Also Burgoyne’s troops were defeated while attempting to capture supplies at Bennington, Vermont. The defeat disheartened Burgoyne troops, and thousands of militia swarmed to Saratoga, NY to join American General Horatio Gates. On September 19, 1777, Burgoyne attacked Gates at Freeman’s Farm. After 3 hours of fighting, Gen. Burgoyne ordered his troops to entrench around the Freeman’s Farm and wait for the reinforcements. Burgoyne waited for 3 weeks. But the reinforcements were not coming. Even worse, winter was closing in and their supplies were low. Burgoyne had to attack or retreat. On October 7, 1777 Burgoyne led his troops to survey Bemis Heights and met a tough counterattack led by Benedict Arnold. Burgoyne retreated. But Gates surrounded him at Saratoga completely. Finally, on October 17, 1777 Burgoyne surrendered his force to Gates. The encounter prevented the British plans to divide the colony. The most important results were from Europe. While the Americans were fighting the British, Benjamin Franklin had been lobbying French Government to sign an alliance with America. When French heard about the result of the Battles of Saratoga, they signed an alliance with America because Saratoga proved that the Americans were capable of winning the war. After the French declared war on March 1778, Spain joined the war in 1779 (American side). Also, Holland (Netherlands) joined the war against the Britain in 1780. The battles of Saratoga was considered to be the turning point in the Revolutionary War because the result of Saratoga brought French, Spain, and Holland to join the war on American side; America now had more advantages than Britain.
The Battle of Lexington and Concord
The Battle of Lexington and Concord took place on April 19, 1775. This battle was the first battle of the Revolutionary War and this battle brought the American patriots into open rebellion. On the night of April 18, 1775, British General Thomas Gage sent British troops to Lexington, MA to capture the colonial leaders (Samuel Adams, John Hancock) and to capture an arsenal of colonial arms, which were stored in Concord, MA. But, Paul Revere and William Dawes already alerted both towns before the British soldiers arrived, which allowed Adams and Hancock to flee away. Also, the warning allowed he Minutemen, which were a local militia, to get ready to fight. At the dawn of April 19, 1775, British soldiers marched into Lexington, encountering the Minutemen in an area called the ‘Battle Green’. During the confusion, the first shot rang. No one knows which fired first. It was "the shot heard round the world." After the shot rang, British opened fire, instantly killing 8 men and wounding several others. After the encounter at Lexington, British soldiers marched into Concord. By the time they reached to Concord, American reinforcements were sent from towns around Lexington and Concord, resulting in more colonists than British soldiers. When British soldiers encountered colonial resistance at the Old North Bridge, the British were defeated, and retreated back to Boston. During the 20-mile retreat, minuteman all over eastern New England, who had been arriving throughout the day, attacked British troops. The Battles of Lexington and Concord resulted in 73 British soldiers dead and 174 wounded, while another 26 went missing. On the other hand, Americans suffered 93 casualties. The Battle of Lexington was won by Britain, but Battle of Concord was won by America. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were considered an American victory because Britain could not achieve their goal of capturing the colonial leaders and could not destroy their arsenal, which was stored in Concord. Also, there were more British casualties than American.
Timeline of the Revolutionary War
April 19, 1775
June 17, 1775
July 4, 1776
New York City
September 15, 1776
Battle of Trenton,
December 26, 1776
Battle of Saratoga
October 17, 1777
sign a treaty
Winter at Valley Forge December 19, 1777 - June 18, 1778
British forces capture Charleston, South Carolina
May 12, 1780
Siege of Yorktown
September 28, 1781 - October 19, 1781
Treaty of Paris 1783
September 3, 1783
Articles of Confederation adopted as government of the United States
March 4, 1789
by Kevin Rho and Jeffrey Gu
Winter at Valley Forge
When the British tried to take the capital of the colonies, Philadelphia, the Americans attacked at Brandywine in an attempt to drive them away. They were defeated, and the British began occupying the city on September 26, 1777. The Americans again tried to force them out at Germantown, and were again defeated. Knowing that he had to hole up somewhere for the winter, Washington moved his 11,000 troops first to Whitemarsh, then left on December 12 for Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 13 miles away. Due to snow, sleet, and ice, they arrived on December 19, 1777. It was positioned on a plateau and was guarded by the Schuylkill River and 2 creeks, easy enough to defend. In addition, it was located near trade routes and farm supplies. The men built 16 by 14 by 6 foot log huts with a fireplace, cloth door, and 12 men per hut. However, the roads were frozen and bumpy, making it harder for supplies to reach them, and the money issued by the Continental Congress was near worthless, so many farmers would not sell. In addition, the winter was harsh, with temperatures near freezing, they lacked sufficient clothing and food; the CC forgot about them, let alone sending supplies to them, they were criticized by the public, and diseases including typhus, dysentery, typhoid, and pneumonia spread. Around 2,000 men died, and many were inoculated. Death aside, though, Baron von Steuben, recommended by Benjamin Franklin as drill instructor, managed to train the remaining soldiers, using translators and building fighting skills and morale. Supplies, both American and French, came along with spring, and the men left Valley Forge on June 18, 1778.
The Siege of Yorktown
Prior to the Battle of Yorktown, French Admirals Comte de Grasse and Comte de Barras arranged 35 ships in Chesapeake Bay. Noting the possibility of attack, British General Cornwallis tried to fortify Yorktown and Gloucester. Washington surrounded Cornwallis at Yorktown, placing the city under siege, with about 16,650 French and American troops, and 35 ships to block Cornwallis’ escape by sea. Cornwallis had about 7,400 troops with which to defend both Yorktown and Gloucester, but pretty much only focused on defending Yorktown, sending only about 700 men to Gloucester. Washing restrained this force with just 2,100 men. Receiving notice that 5,000 men and a large fleet of men would reach him in a few days, Cornwallis decided that it would be easy enough to hold out for only a few days by retreating into the city, and left the outer fortifications. From September 28 to October 10, the Americans attacked Cornwallis’ forces again and again, killing many of his troops and taking some of their redoubts. On October 14, the Americans succeeded in taking the last of the British redoubts. Cornwallis attempted to escape by bringing his men across the York River, through Washington’s forces at Gloucester, and out to New York. On the night of October 16, Cornwallis managed to get some of his troops across the river, but a storm blew in, destroying their boats and thus ruining the operation. After 2 days of negotiations, the British marched out from Yorktown on 2:00 PM, October 19th 1781 in surrender, giving up 8,087 men, 264 cannons, 6,658 muskets, 457 horses, and about $113,000 worth of British pounds. After this loss, the King wanted to continue the war but the people were opposed to it. It was the last major battle in the war.
Battle of Concord
April 19, 1775
William Howe was born in August 10, 1729 in London, United Kingdom. When he was 17 years old, he joined the British army. For the next 30 years, he rose steadily in rank. When the revolutionary war started in America, he served Britain as the army general. He led many battles during the Revolutionary War. But he lost almost all battles he led, except the battle of Bunker Hill and Battle of Long Island. When he captured the New York, he could not capture the Washington’s army. Under severe criticism in England for failing to crush the Americans and feeling that he had lost the king’s confidence, Howe requested to relieved on October 22, 1777. On May 1778, he left the America and went back to Britain. Howe went on to hold variety of Important military positions. He became a full general in 1793. When the wars of the French Revolution began, he help important commands in the north and then in the east of England. But unfortunately, failing health forced him to retire from active office in 1803. He died in Plymouth, England on July 12, 1814, while serving as the governor of Plymouth. William Howe was beloved by this men, but he received little credit for his victories in America.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..." ~The Declaration of Independence
Top right : The final copy of the Declaration of Independence
Top left : An early draft of the Declaration of Independence
Henry Knox was born July 25, 1750 in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of 9 he dropped out of school to help support his family, working at a bookstore after his father died when he was 12. By the time he was 21, Knox owned his own bookstore, named the London Bookstore. In 1772, he joined the Boston Grenadier Corps, studying military science and engineering. and in 1775 he joined the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He became an advisor and friend of George Washington, and was made colonel of artillery. It was he who directed the movement of 55 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights, allowing the colonists to force out the British there. Knox commanded artillery in the Battles of Trenton and Monmouth, and fought in Germantown, Philadelphia, Brandywine, and Princeton. In December of 1776, he directed Washington’s troops as they crossed the Delaware River, for which he was promoted to brigadier general. He also created the Springfield Arsenal in Massachusetts as well as the Academy Artillery School in Morristown, Pennsylvania, which would later become West Point. After the war ended and Washington retired from his post as the general of the Continental Army, Knox took up the job, though he retired less than a year later in 1784. He founded the Society of the Cincinnati for veterans of the Revolution, and was appointed Secretary of War in 1785. Before he retired in 1795, Knox laid the foundation for the US Navy and became part of Washington’s first cabinet in 1789. He died on October 25, 1806.
What one of the cabins at Valley Forge would have looked like
The Revolutionary War map
Battle of Lexington and Concord
Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of York Town
Battles of Saratoga