Lecture Honors U.S. History 2009/10 Mr.

Irwin Week 4 Lecture #5 The Revolutionary War Pre-Declaration of Independence

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September 1774 - In response to the Coercive Acts (the Intolerable Acts), the colonists organized the First Continental Congress. • • • • • 56 delegates met in Philadelphia and drew up a declaration of colonial rights. They defended the colonies’ right to run their own affairs. It was agreed that if the British used force against the colonies, the colonies should fight back. After this congress, colonists in many eastern New England towns stepped up military preparations by stockpiling firearms and gunpowder. The birth of the Minutemen, civilian soldiers, who pledged to be ready to fight against the British on a “minute’s notice.”

November 1774 – King George III writes to Lord North that “The New England Governments are in a state of rebellion,” and that “blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.” Spring 1775 - British General, Thomas Gage Carrying out orders from King George, to arrest Boston’s colonial leaders and to take the offensive, General Gage orders a contingent of troops to march from Boston to nearby Concord, Massachusetts, to seize illegal weapons. • Colonists in Boston were watching for British troop movements.

April 18, 1775 - Paul Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode out to spread the word that 700 British troops were headed for Boston. • There were prearranged signals to warn the colonists of approaching British troops. o Signal lights in the church tower. “One if by land, two if by sea.”

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o The Church bells would be rung and shots would be fired to warn those in the immediate area. o It was the job of Revere, Dawes & Prescott to warn those on the outskirts of Boston. April 19, 1775 – The Battle of Lexington Gage’s troops reach Lexington, Massachusetts at dawn on a cold and windy morning. • • • • • • The British troops encounter 70 colonial minutemen on the village green. The colonists are ordered to lay down their weapons and leave. The colonists begin to leave without laying down their weapons. Shots are fired. It is unknown which side fired the first shot. The result; 8 minutemen killed, 10 minutemen wounded; only 1 British soldier wounded. This becomes known as the Battle of Lexington, the first battle of the Revolutionary War. o It lasted only 15 minutes. April 19, 1775 – The Battle of Concord The British march on to Concord, 5 miles away. At Concord, they find an empty arsenal. After a brief skirmish with minutemen, the British line up to march back to Boston. • • • This march back to Boston quickly becomes a slaughter, as by this time, the colonists have been able to assemble between 3,000 and 4,000 minutemen. The minutemen fire on the British troops from behind stone walls and trees. Dozens of British soldiers are killed and the surviving British troops make it back to Boston in humiliation.

May 10, 1775 – Ticonderoga and Crown Point Massachusetts troops under the command of Benedict Arnold and Connecticut troops under the command of Ethan Allen seize the British fort at Ticonderoga, at Lake Champlain. Two days later they forge northward and take the British stronghold, Crown Point. • As the result, the colonials pick up valuable military supplies, including cannons. www.mirwin.weebly.com page 2 of 5

The colonists are able to take strategic control of a large portion of the St. Lawrence River.

May 10 1775 – The Second Continental Congress • Now that shots have been fired, colonial leaders call a Second Continental Congress to meet once again in Philadelphia, to decide their next move. • • • • • • A debate ensues. Loyalists argue for reconciliation with England, while others argue for independence. Acting on behalf of most of the colonies, this congress, by its actions, becomes the first government of the United States. This congress agrees to convert the various colonial militias into one Continental Army. The congress appoints George Washington as commander-in Chief of the new army. The congress begins the process of purchasing supplies and arranging for medical services for the new Continental Army.

June 1775 – The Battle of Bunker Hill Britain’s General Gage sends 2,400 soldiers to attack Boston militiamen at what was believed to be Bunker Hill. • Due to the mis-identification of the battle location, the fighting actually occurred at nearby Breed’s Hill. Nevertheless, this battle goes down in history as the Battle of Bunker Hill. • • • • The British deviate from traditional fighting tactics by breaking ranks. This turns out to be a serious mistake. The colonists have the advantage of being able to fire down the hill upon the charging British soldiers. The colonists hold their fire until the last minute and then begin to mow down the advancing British soldiers. Orders are given not to shoot “until you see the whites of their eyes.” The British succeed in taking the hill but lose over 1,000 men in the fight. www.mirwin.weebly.com page 3 of 5

The colonists lose 450 men.

“Bunker Hill” becomes the deadliest battle of the Revolutionary War.

July 8, 1775 – The Olive Branch Petition Many loyalists still wanted to attempt to reconcile with King George III, so the Second Continental Congress sends the King the so-called “Olive Branch Petition” urging that England and the colonies return to “the former harmony.” • • King George rejects the petition and issues a proclamation stating that the colonies are in rebellion. King George then urges Parliament to order a naval blockade designed to isolate American seaports from their commercial activities.

When George Washington takes command of the Colonial Army, he really acquires little more than a group of volunteers (not professional soldiers), whose strongest attribute is that they are willing to fight. • • • Most come from individual state militias. Most have little knowledge of the tactics of war. These are mainly undisciplined individualistic volunteers.

One of Washington’s first task as Commander-In-Chief is to bring order to the army and train the men how to become soldiers. December 30, 1775 - Fighting in Canada In an attack on Quebec, the colonists lose 60 men, including one general (Richard Montgomery), and 400 colonists are taken prisoner by the British. June 1776 – The Colonists Fortify Boston British General William Howe is forced to evacuate his troops away from Boston. • • Howe re-deploys his troops to Nova Scotia to prepare for a major offensive. In late June, hundreds of British ships, with a force of 32,000 soldiers enter and take over New York Harbor.

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In addition to their own troops, the British employed thousands of German mercenaries (called Hessians because they came from the German region of Hesse).

July 4, 1776 – the Declaration of Independence Congress approves the Declaration of Independence, and it is sent out for reproduction and printing. John Hancock, who was the President of the Congress, stated that it was important “that the people be universally informed.”

- End of Lecture -

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