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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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Battle of Lexington, 1775.png
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge, near Boston. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America.

About 700 British Army regulars were ordered to capture and destroy military supplies that were reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington. The militia were outnumbered and fell back. Other colonists, hours later at the North Bridge in Concord, fought and defeated three companies of the king's troops. Outnumbered, soldiers of the British Army fell back from the Minutemen after a pitched battle in open territory. More Minutemen arrived soon thereafter and inflicted heavy damage on the British regulars as they marched back towards Boston.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his Concord Hymn described the first shot fired by the Patriots at the North Bridge as the "shot heard 'round the world".


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John Trumbull - The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781 - 1832.4 - Yale University Art Gallery.jpg
The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, by John Trumbull
Credit: Itsmine
John Trumbull painted this depiction of Lord Cornwallis surrendering at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, however, neither George Washington or Lord Cornwallis participated directly.

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Molly Brant's home, Johnson Hall
Molly Brant (c.1736 – April 16, 1796), also known as Mary Brant, Konwatsi'tsiaienni, and Degonwadonti, was a prominent Mohawk woman in the era of the American Revolution. Living in the Province of New York, she was the consort of Sir William Johnson, the influential British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, with whom she had eight children. Joseph Brant, who became an important Mohawk leader, was her younger brother.

After Johnson's death in 1774, Brant and her children returned to her native village of Canajoharie on the Mohawk River. A Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War, she fled to British Canada, where she worked as an intermediary between British officials and the Iroquois. After the war, she settled in what is now Kingston, Ontario. In recognition of her service to the Crown, the British government gave Brant a pension and compensated her for her wartime losses.

Since 1994, Brant has been honored as a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada. She was long ignored or disparaged by historians of the United States, but scholarly interest in her increased in the late 20th century. She has sometimes been controversial, criticized for being pro-British at the expense of the Iroquois. A devout Anglican, she is commemorated on April 16 in the calendar of the Anglican Church of Canada. No portraits of her are known to exist; an idealized likeness is featured on a statue in Kingston and on a Canadian stamp issued in 1986.


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Philadelphia on display at the National Museum of American History
Philadelphia was a gunboat (referred to in contemporary documents as a gundalow or gondola) of the Continental Navy. Manned by Continental Army soldiers, she was part of a fleet which, under the command of General Benedict Arnold, fought in the Battle of Valcour Island against a larger Royal Navy fleet on Lake Champlain in October 1776. Although many of the American boats in the battle were damaged in the October 11 battle, Philadelphia was one of the few that actually sank that day. In 1935 amateur military marine archaeologist Lorenzo Hagglund located her remains standing upright at the bottom of Lake Champlain, and had her raised. Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution in 1961, Philadelphia and associated artifacts are part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C. She is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.


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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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