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American Revolution: 1776–1783



Although the American Revolution began in spring 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill, the brunt of the conflict came between 1776 and 1783. During this period, the colonists rebelling against Great Britain—known as the Patriot forces—suffered numerous defeats and hardships. They also scored substantial victories, among them the decisive Battles of Saratoga and the Siege of Yorktown that marked the unofficial end of the war. Numerous diverse groups and individuals supported and aided the Americans during their rebellion—making their ultimate victory possible.

At A Glance

  • The British and the Patriots adapted their military strategies as conflict issues evolved in the American Revolution.
  • A number of key battles—including those at Trenton, Saratoga, and Kings Mountain—shaped the course of the American Revolution.
  • The Battle of Quebec on December 31, 1775, marked the Patriot forces' first significant defeat.
  • American general George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River late on December 25, 1776—launching an attack on Hessian soldiers in Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Following the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Washington's troops retreated to Germantown, Pennsylvania—making possible the British occupation of Philadelphia.
  • During autumn 1777 the Patriots' victory in the Battles of Saratoga encouraged France to enter the conflict as an ally of the Americans.
  • In 1777–78 George Washington and the Continental Army faced harsh conditions during their winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
  • Captain John Paul Jones, commander of Continental Navy ship Bonhomme Richard, captured British navy vessel Serapis near the coast of England in September 1779.
  • The Battle of Kings Mountain in October 1780 marked a key American victory against the British in the South.
  • France provided the Patriots with loans, supplies, and troops during the American Revolution.
  • Spain provided the Americans with supplies but did not sign a formal alliance with them.
  • By 1782 the Netherlands formally supported the Americans, trading with the Patriots and providing them with loans.
  • From participating in economic boycotts to managing businesses and providing medical care on the battlefield, women assumed many roles during the American Revolution.
  • While many Native Americans remained neutral during the American Revolution, some sided with the Americans, and others supported the British.
  • Free and enslaved African Americans joined the conflict, some supporting the British and others fighting for the Americans.
  • The Siege of Yorktown ended on October 19, 1781, as a decisive victory for the Continental Army.
  • The American Revolution officially ended on September 3, 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, also known as the Peace of Paris.