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Irwin Week 5 Lecture 6 The Revolutionary War Post Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776 – the Declaration of Independence Congress approves the Declaration 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.” August – 1776 The Continental Army attempts to defend New York but they are untrained and poorly equipped. They are forced to retreat. By late fall, the British have pushed Washington’s army across the Delaware River, into Pennsylvania. December 25, 1776 – Washington pulls a risky move in bad weather. He leads 2,400 men in small rowboats back across the ice laden Delaware River. • Washington’s men then march to Trenton, New Jersey and launch a surprise attack on a unit of Hessian mercenaries.
September 1777 - The British capture the American capital of Philadelphia. The Surrender at Saratoga British General John Burgoyne leads an army regiment down a route of lakes from Canada to Albany, New York. He plans to meet up with another British regiment that would come from up New York City, and combine forces with them. • • • The other regiment has been re-deployed in order to help maintain control of Philadelphia, and Burgoyne has no knowledge of this change. As Burgoyne travels through the forested wilderness towards Albany, New England militiamen and soldiers from the Continental army engage him in battle. American troops succeed in surrounding Burgoyne at Saratoga, which results in Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga on October 17, 1777.
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February 1778 Burgoyne’s surrender has greater implications. The French, who had been secretly aiding the Americans, now believe that the colonists could actually win the war against the British. As the result, they sign an alliance with the Americans and openly join the fight. The Winter of 1778 - Valley Forge Washington and his Continental Army are extremely low of food and supplies. They now must fight the elements of nature in order to stay alive at a winter camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. • • More than 2,000 American soldiers die, yet not one soldier deserts Washington’s Army. Washington describes the conditions in a letter to a friend, this way: “To see the men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon…without shoes…and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarcely be paralleled.” Washington Gets Help From Foreign Military Experts • Prussian Captain, Friedreich von Steuben arrives in the winter of 1778, to lend his assistance in training American troops. • • From France, the Marquis de Lafayette gives similar help to the new Americans. With professional military assistance, the Continental Army is transformed into an effective fighting force.
The British Move Southward After Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga, the British begin to shift their operations to the South. December 29, 1778 – The British Capture Savannah, Georgia May 1780 – Generals Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis Capture Charleston, South Carolina. Early 1781 – Cornwallis Sets His Sights on Virginia. He leads an army of 7,500 men to Yorktown, where he expects to link up with General Clinton and his men. • • The armies of Lafayette and Washington move south towards Yorktown. A French naval force defeats a British fleet and then blocks the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, which cuts off this route of supply or escape for the British. www.mirwin.weebly.com Page 2 of 3
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September 1778 – French and American troops begin bombarding Cornwallis night and day. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis realizing that he is trapped, chooses to surrender. This surrender shocks the world and signals the end of the Revolutionary War. England had lost its will to continue the fight and accepts defeat.
Peace talks begin in Paris, in 1782 The American negotiating team includes John Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin. September of 1783 – Delegates Sign The Treaty of Paris • This treaty acknowledges U.S. independence, and sets the boundaries of the new nation. • The treaty defines the boundaries of the United States as stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and from Canada to the Florida border.
______________________________________________________________________ * Final Thought: Students should keep in mind that the Revolutionary War began with the first shots fired at Lexington & Concord, in September of 1775, that the fighting continued all the way into late 1781, and that the war was not officially over until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Once the fighting had ended, and after two years of negotiating, the United States of America would have to prove to the world that it could succeed as a sovereign nation, separate and independent from Britain. - End of Lecture -
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