A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution is the first comprehensive account of every engagement of the Revolution, a war that began with a brief skirmish at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, and concluded on the battlefield at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781.
In between were six long years of bitter fighting on land and at sea. The wide variety of combats blanketed the North American continent from Canada to the Southern colonies, from the winding coastal lowlands to the Appalachian Mountains, and from the North Atlantic to the Caribbean.
Unlike existing accounts, A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution by authors Theodore P. Savas and J. David Dameron presents each engagement in a unique way. Each battle entry offers a wide and richbut consistenttemplate of information to make it easy for readers to find exactly what they are seeking.
Every entry begins with introductory details including the date of the battle, its location, commanders, opposing forces, terrain, weather, and time of day. The detailed body of each entry offers both a Colonial and British perspective of the unfolding military situation, a detailed and unbiased account of what actually transpired, a discussion of numbers and losses, an assessment of the consequences of the battle, and suggestions for further reading. Many of the entries are supported and enriched by original maps and photos. Fresh, scholarly, informative, and entertaining, A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution will be welcomed by historians and general enthusiasts everywhere.
About the Authors: Theodore P. Savas practiced law in Silicon Valley for many years before moving into the world of book publishing. He is the author or editor of many books (published in six languages) including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution (with J. David Dameron), Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic, and Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II. He lives in El Dorado Hills, CA with his wife and children.
J. David Dameron received his education at the University of North Carolina. He is retired from the U.S. Army, where he served with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 7th Special Forces Group. He is the author of several books including General Henry L. Benning (2001), Benning’s Brigade, Volumes 1 and 2 (2002), Kings Mountain: Defeat of the Loyalists (2003), and A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution (with Theodore P. Savas).
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About the Author
Theodore P. Savas graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1986 (With Distinction). He practiced law in Silicon Valley for twelve years and co-founded Savas Woodbury Publishers (subsequently Savas Publishing) in 1990. The company was sold to an East coast publisher in 2001. He has been teaching legal, history, and business college classes since 1992.He is the author or editor of fourteen books (published in five languages) including A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution (with J. David Dameron, Spellmount and SBLLC, 2006), Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-Boat War in the Atlantic (Spellmount, SBLLC, 2004), Silent Hunters: German U-boat Commanders of World War II (Campbell, 1997; Naval Institute Press, 2003) and Nazi Millionaires: The Allied Search for Hidden SS Gold (Casemate, 2002), as well as a score of articles in a variety of journals and magazines. He also wrote an opinion-editorial column for a northern California newspaper
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Lexington and Concord, Battles of (Boston Campaign)
Date: April 19, 1775.
Region: Northern Colonies, Massachusetts.
Commanders: British: Lieutenant Colonel Frances Smith, Major John Pitcairn, Major (Lord) Hugh Percy; American: Captain John Parker (Lexington), Colonel James Barrett (Concord and along British retreat to Charlestown-Boston).
Time of Day / Length of Action: Early morning (Lexington and Concord), morning and afternoon (retreat to Boston)
Weather Conditions: Unremarkable, clear and pleasant.
Opposing Forces: British: 700-man force of infantry, grenadiers, Royal marines with cavalry escort (reinforced with 1,000 soldiers and two cannons during retreat phase); American: 70 at Lexington; 200 at Concord, with more along British retreat to Charlestown (loosely organized local militia units).
British Perspective: By the spring of 1775, the American colonies were on the verge of revolt. Nowhere was this radical energy more fervent than in Boston and the surrounding countryside, where British troops eyed the locals with justifiable suspicion. In the port of Boston, British authorities focused closely on the export businesses as local merchants sought ways around the numerous tariffs imposed by the Crown. Smuggling was rampant. New Englanders avoided high taxes by trading illegally with the Dutch and French. Violent protests in the streets of Boston reached a new phase on March 5, 1770, when British troops fired into a mob killing five protestors. Anti-British sentiment escalated over the next few years.
In May of 1774, Lt. Gen. Thomas Gage, the commander-in-chief of the British Army in America, returned to the colonies after a leave in England and assumed command as the military Royal Governor of Massachusetts. Rebellion loomed as the Crown implemented additional retaliatory measures for what it deemed rebellious acts against the King's authority.
The colonials established a Massachusetts Provincial Congress in May 1774, which met illegally in Concord. Its leadership included John Hancock and Samuel Adams. In February of 1775, Parliament declared the colony of Massachusetts to be in open rebellion and authorized British troops to kill violent rebels. General Gage was ordered to quell the rebellious behavior. He was instructed to arrest the membership of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, but decided instead to seize arms and munitions stored at Concord. During the early hours of April 19, he dispatched troops under Lt. Colonel Frances Smith and Maj. James Pitcairn to seize these munitions.
American Perspective: Burdensome taxes imposed by the Crown were enacted to recoup expenditures of the French and Indian War, but the American colonists despised the British authorities for their heavy-handed tactics. Between 1763 and 1765, the Americans were hit with the Sugar Act, Currency Act, and Quartering Acts. In 1767, the Massachusetts House of Representatives officially denounced a new tax known as the Townshend Act. Hailing these acts passed in England as "taxation without representation," disgruntled colonials subject to the Crown expressed their displeasure loudly and frequently. Royal Governor Sir Francis Bernard sought assistance from British authorities and on October 1, 1768, Boston was occupied by British soldiers. Parliament eventually repealed the Townshend Act, but its tax remained on imported tea. In 1773, the East India Trading Company enjoyed British favor as the primary importer of colonial tea, and an official decree known as the Tea Act was established to enforce it as policy. The colonists consumed tea with a passion, and the increased prices served only to further anger them.
On December 16, 1773, colonists covertly boarded an East Indian merchant ship laden with tea and poured it into the harbor. The consequence of what came to be known as "The Boston Tea Party" was the passage of a new imposition known as the Intolerable Acts, which included the closure of the port of Boston until restitution for the lost tea was made to the Crown. Previously elected officials were replaced with appointed British authorities, and private homes were seized to quarter British troops.
The establishment of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in May 1774, coupled with the increased rhetoric against the Crown's authority, left the region a dry tinderbox awaiting a spark that arrived in the form of British troops marching from Boston to Concord.
Despite British efforts to march in secret to Concord, a network of local spies sounded the alarm. Two Bostonians, Paul Revere and William Dawes, avoided capture and slipped out of the city into the countryside. Before his departure Revere placed lanterns in the Old North Church to signal movement details of his enemy (which resulted in the well-known mantra "One if by land or two if by sea"). Dawes and Revere traversed different routes to warn colonials in Lexington that the British were on the march toward Concord. In Lexington, which lay on the road to Concord, another colonist named Samuel Prescott joined the "midnight riders" in order to spread the word to the rebels. British cavalry patrols captured Revere and forced Dawes away from the area, but Prescott reached Concord.
Shortly after Revere was captured the rebels assembled on Lexington Green. Led by their militia commander Capt. John Parker, the "Minutemen" waited for the main body of British troops marching rapidly toward Concord. The British would have to march through Lexington to reach their destination. The first clash of what would be a long hard war awaited them there. As the British approached the rebel position and the sunlight rose in the eastern sky, a scout returned with word the enemy had arrived.
Terrain: Gently rolling fertile farm region. Lexington and Concord are both small New England towns. In Lexington, the brief fight occurred on the town green. The Concord action began at the Concord North Bridge and continued along the retreat route to Charlestown, a dirt road lined with alternating forests and fields that provided the colonial militia with advantageous areas for picking off the retreating British soldiers.
The Fighting: (Battle of Lexington): Captain Parker organized his men on the town green to interrupt the march of the approaching British. The sun was just rising. The handful of rebels quickly realized they were heavily outnumbered and that defeat was inevitable. Captain Parker ordered his men to disperse. Exactly what took place next is not clear. As the British soldiers reached the green, someone may have fired into the British forces from behind a stone wall. Other shots rang out. Under Major Pitcairn's direction, the British returned fire and assaulted the colonials. The skirmish ended quickly with the blood of eighteen rebels spilled onto Lexington Green (eight killed, ten wounded).
(Battle of Concord): The British resumed their march to Concord, six miles distant. News the British were coming had reached Concord about 2:00 a.m., and several companies of minutemen turned out. Local militia leader Col. James Barrett led a contingent of men to remove munitions and military stores from his property and conceal them elsewhere. Others watched for the enemy from a ridge lining the road leading to town. They fell back when the Redcoats approached Concord between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Captain Lawrence Parsons led three companies to search homes and farms to uncover the hidden weapons and powder while three other companies under Capt. Walter Laurie secured the North Bridge. The British set fire to several cannon mounts in the courthouse. The colonials watched in horror, certain the enemy was torching the town.
By this time (perhaps 9:30 a.m.), 300 to 400 militia had gathered on the high ground above the North Bridge. With fife and drum Maj. John Buttrick led his motley group of farmers and merchants toward Laurie's companies defending the span. Laurie ordered his men to fall back to the opposite side of the bridge, where they deployed in a tight in-depth defensive formation that allowed only one of the three companies to fire on the approaching rebels, who continued advancing unaware of the brief fight at Lexington. When the British opened fire the rebels confidently returned it. The exchange lasted for several minutes and eventually drove the Crown's professional soldiers back in some disorder into Concord. They left three killed and eight wounded on the field. The Americans, who suffered two killed and three wounded, made no real attempt to pursue Laurie or cut off the column of British out searching Barrett's farm. A chagrined Lieutenant Colonel Smith led his men out of Concord about noon, cognizant that the force of Massachusetts militiamen was growing.
(Retreat to Charlestown): The British passed through a hail of enemy lead as they withdrew from Concord to Lexington. Just outside Lexington, Captain Parker, who had earlier led the militia on Lexington Green, organized an ambush known today as "Parker's Revenge." Parker's surprise attack inflicted many casualties and wounded key British leaders, including Lt. Col. Francis Smith. A British relief force led by Maj. (Lord) Percy joined Smith's column at Lexington. Without Percy's men, artillery, and leadership, the colonials may have overwhelmed and destroyed Smith's expeditionary force. Using his cannon to disperse the advancing rebels, Percy regained some control of a difficult withdrawal. Although Percy managed to lead the British column back to the safety of Charlestown, the rebels fired on it from the woods throughout much of the march, inflicting several hundred casualties. By the time the march ended, some 6,000 colonial militiamen had assembled on the outskirts of Boston.
Casualties: British: 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing; American: 49 killed, 41 wounded, and five missing (most losses on both sides incurred during the running battle to Charlestown).
Outcome / Impact: The battles of Lexington and Concord ("The Shot Heard Round The World") initiated armed hostilities between the British and American forces. The bloodshed was exactly what many in the colonies were hoping for to raise popular support for an armed revolution. The colonial fighting style was unconventional and disorganized, but the asymmetric form of warfare had a tremendous impact upon the morale of the British soldiers, who suffered nearly 20 percent casualties. The seemingly invincible British army suddenly found itself in a war fighting an enemy who used tactics as foreign to them as the soil upon which they were fighting. Colonial Gen. William Heath organized the thousands of militiamen milling about outside Boston and established a quasi "siege" around Gage's shocked British command. The war was now on in earnest.
Today: The Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord interprets and preserves these opening battles of the war through exhibits and living history programs.
Boston, Siege of (Boston Campaign)
Date: April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776.
Region: Northern Colonies, Boston, Massachusetts.
Commanders: British: General Thomas Gage; American: General Artemas Ward.
Time of Day / Length of Action: Eleven months.
Weather Conditions: Unremarkable.
Opposing Forces: British: 4,000 in April to 9,500 in March of 1776; American: 7,000 in April to 24,000 in March of 1776.
British Perspective: By the time night fell on the evening of April 19, 1775, England was at war with the American colonists. After barely escaping from Concord the British suffered heavy casualties at the hands of untrained colonial militia during the retreat to the outskirts of Boston. The sudden turn of events restricted the British garrison of about 4,000 men to the city, though its powerful navy controlled Boston harbor. While rations and information about the rebels were in short supply, the British retained a strong and virtually unassailable position in the port city. General Thomas Gage was in overall charge of British forces in the American colonies with his headquarters in Boston.
Events in the American colonies were of great concern to King George III (it was said he had Boston "on the brain"). On May 25, 4,500 British reinforcements arrived there to help Gage put down the rebellion. With them were Generals William Howe, James Clinton, and John Burgoyne. Plans to break through the siege and crush the rebellion were quickly drafted. The plan was carried out on June 17 with a victorious (but very costly) assault on the colonists across the Charles River at the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill.
American Perspective: After driving the British back to Boston and pinning them against the sea, the thousands of colonists who joined forces around the city were placed under the command of American General Artemas Ward, a prominent leader of the Massachusetts militia. Ward established his headquarters at Cambridge (west of Boston) and the surrounding area swelled quickly with troop concentrations at Charlestown, Roxbury, and Dorchester Heights. Within a short time the colonial army had 7,000 soldiers to confront the military professionals marking time in Boston.
On June 14, 1775 the Continental Congress officially created a Continental Army and the following day selected George Washington to serve as its commander in chief. General Ward, meanwhile, strengthened his lines, drilled his fresh troops, and maintained his loosely organized Patriots in a quasi-siege of Boston. Ward's plans to strengthen the colonial works near Charlestown led to the June 17 Battle of Bunker Hill. Although the British won a costly victory in that engagement, the area around Charlestown was retaken without opposition when General Washington arrived on July 3. The Continental Army continued to grow in strength and its lines around Boston were tightened. The arrival of heavy siege artillery finally forced the British to evacuate the city. The King's army sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, ending the "siege" of Boston on March 17, 1776. The next month Washington shifted the bulk of the Continental Army to fortify New York City.
Terrain: Boston and its environs was a well developed and populated colonial city surrounded by several small towns at Charlestown, Roxbury, Cambridge, and Dorchester Heights. As a flourishing port city, the harbor was filled with sailing vessels of many types, including merchant ships and fishing fleets.
The Fighting and Casualties: Not applicable (see separate entry for Bunker Hill).
Outcome / Impact: The siege of Boston was the first large scale operational phase of the American Revolution. Events in and around the city during this siege were critical in shaping the character of the emerging nation and forced Great Britain to deal with threats to its authority in the colonies. The siege and fighting set the stage for what followed. The firm display by the militia at the Bunker Hill fight, demonstrated that local militias, properly handled, could be used to advantage against the greatest military machine of its day. The Patriot stand confounded the British and went against the military doctrine of the day. Most of the British had initially perceived the Patriots as little more than rustic rebels with no real military ability; the early battles and the siege forced the King's troops to at least privately acknowledge their bravery.
The fighting during the war's early weeks bought additional time for politicians and civilians alike to debate crucial questions associated with independence, sovereignty, and ideals that forged the foundations of the United States of America.
Today: The Boston National Historical Park in Boston interprets and preserves the colonial history of the city.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution"
Copyright © 2010 Theodore P. Savas & J. David Dameron.
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Table of Contents
Preface / Acknowledgments xix
Authors' Note: Campaigns and Battles of the American Revolution xxiii
Introduction: British and Allied Soldiers in the American Revolution xxxv
Lexington and Concord 1
Boston, Siege of 6
Ft. Ticonderoga 9
Hog and Noodle Islands 12
Bunker Hill 16
Ft. St. John, Siege of 19
Snow Campaign 24
Great Bridge 28
Moores Creek Bridge 36
Ft. Sullivan (Charleston) 45
Cherokee Campaign 49
Long Island 55
New York, Siege of 61
Lake Champlain 69
White Plains 76
Ft. Ticonderoga 95
Ft. Stanwix/Oriskany 103
"The Clouds" 120
Freeman's Farm 125
Hudson Highlands 140
Bemis Heights 145
Fts. Mercer and Mifflin 151
British Isles 160
Monmouth Court House 170
Rhode Island 182
Kettle Creek 194
Ft. Sackville 198
Brier [Briar] Creek 203
Penobscot Bay 208
Stono Ferry 213
Stony Point 217
Savannah, Siege of 227
Charleston, Siege of 233
Williamson's Plantation 242
Hanging Rock 245
Musgrove's Mill 253
Kings Mountain 262
Blackstock's Plantation 271
Haw River 282
Guilford Courthouse 286
Hobkirk's Hill 292
Pensacola, Siege of 297
Ninety Six/Augusta, Siege of 303
Green Spring 309
The Capes 315
New London 320
Eutaw Springs 324
Yorktown, Siege of 329
Blue Licks 337
Arkansas Post 342
Appendix: Battles and Campaigns by State 346