The Causes of American War of Independence
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a conflict that erupted between Great Britain and revolutionaries within thirteen British colonies, who declared their independence as the United States of America in 1776. The war was the culmination of the American Revolution, a colonial struggle against political and economic policies of the British Empire. The war eventually widened far beyond British North America; many Native Americans also fought on both sides of the conflict. Throughout the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside (where most of the population lived) largely eluded them. After an American victory at Saratoga in 1777, France, Spain, and the Netherlands entered the war against Great Britain. French involvement proved decisive, with a naval victory in the Chesapeake leading to the surrender of a British army at Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 recognized the independence of the United States. Combatants before 1778
Colonists were divided over which side to support in the war; in some areas, the struggle was a civil war. The Revolutionaries (also known as Americans or Patriots) had the active support of about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. About 15 to 20 percent of the population supported the British Crown during the war, and were known as Loyalists (or Tories). Loyalists fielded perhaps 50,000 men during the war years in support of the British Empire. After the war, some 70,000 Loyalists departed the United States, most going to Canada, Great Britain, or to British colonies in the Caribbean. When the war began, the Americans did not have a regular army (also known as a "standing army"). Each colony had traditionally provided for its own defenses through the use of local militia. Militiamen served for only a few weeks or months at a time, were reluctant to go very far from home, and were thus generally unavailable for extended operations. Militia lacked the training and discipline of regular soldiers, but was occasionally effective against regular troops. American militia was sometimes adept at partisan warfare, and was particularly effective at suppressing Loyalist activity when British regulars were not in the area. Seeking to coordinate military efforts, the Continental Congress established (on paper) a regular army—the Continental Army—in June 1775, and appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief. The development of the Continental Army was always a work in progress, and Washington reluctantly augmented the regular troops with militia throughout the war. Although as many as 250,000 men may have served as regulars or as militiamen for the Revolutionary cause in the eight years of the war, there were never more than 90,000 total men under arms for the Americans in any given year. Armies in North America were small by European standards of the era; the greatest number of men that Washington personally commanded in the field at any one time was fewer than 17,000. Early in 1775, the British Army consisted of about 36,000 men worldwide, but wartime recruitment steadily increased this number. Additionally, over the course of the war the British hired about 30,000 German mercenaries, popularly known in the colonies as "Hessians" because many of them came from Hesse-Kassel. Germans would make up about one-third of the British troop strength in North America. By 1779, the number of British and German troops stationed in North America was over 60,000, though these were spread from Canada to Florida. African-Americans, slaves and free blacks, served on both sides during the war. Black soldiers served in northern militias from the outset, but this was forbidden in the South, where slave-owners feared arming slaves. In November 1775, Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued a...
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