Revolutionary War Time-Line

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Time-Line of
The Revolutionary War

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Before 1775

1765..........    The Stamp Act, an act whereby certain publications and legal documents were to bear a stamp that cost money and was therefore a form of a tax. It was vehemently opposed by the colonists, because of its unfairness and the idea of taxation without representation. This was the benchmark beginning of events that would lead to the Revolution.

1765..........    Patrick Henry delivers his "No taxation without representation" speech. (Note, although the concept of this slogan was a basic ingredient of the revolution, the colonists did not want representation. They realized their representation in the British legislature would be meaningless and they would always be outvoted. It is also interesting to observe that in spite of the colonists view of taxes imposed on them, they were taxed less than British citizens to support the government of Britain.)

1766.........     The Stamp Act repealed.

1770 Mar...   The Boston Massacre, where five Americans were killed in Boston protesting the Townshend Acts, follow-up acts to the Stamp Act, imposing harsh tariffs on goods coming into the Colonies.

1773 Dec...   The Boston Tea Party. Colonists revolt against the Tea Tax by throwing tea overboard from ships in Boston Harbor.

1774...........   Benjamin Franklin leaves England: hopes of reconciliation with the British through diplomatic and political means exhausted and unsuccessful.

1774 Sep...  The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. The three delegates from Connecticut were all cousins of we Kansas Pioneers. Eliphalet Dyer was a Backus. Roger Sherman was a Cutter. Silas Deane was a G Partridge, R Partridge and a Stephen Tracy descendant.

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1775 Apr 18th...  Evening.. Paul Revere learns of the plans of the British to go to Lexington and Concord to capture military stores and begins his ride to warn the Americans.

1775 Apr 19th.... Midnight. The British leave Boston under cover of darkness for Lexington and Concord.

1775 Apr 19th...  Early morning. The Shot Heard 'round the World: Lexington and Concord. Both commanders later said they had given specific orders not to shoot unless fired upon. No one knows who fired the first shot. The 77 Americans lined on the Green quickly scattered at Lexington, in a skirmish not hardly a battle, but the English suffered many casualties on the march back to Boston, as the Americans "shot from behind trees", chasing the British on their return. From the 77 Americans lined on the Lexington Green, the number of Americans chasing the British grew to several thousand.

1775 May 10...  (Three weeks after Lexington/Concord) Americans take Fort Ticonderoga, New York and Crown Point, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen were leaders. The taking of the cannon from this fort was instrumental in giving the Americans much needed firepower, particularly in the later chasing of the British from Boston.

1775 Jun 16-17...  (Two months after Lexington/Concord) The rebels attempt to rid Boston of the English fails at Bunker Hill, near Boston, but at a great cost to the British, in terms of men lost. The English will occupy Boston until March, 1776. This is the battle where the command "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes." became famous. One of my cousins, Major Thomas Knowlton, is a leader in this battle.

1775... June 1775 the Congress established the Continental Army as well as a continental currency.

1775 Jul...    Declaration to Take Up Arms - Second Continental Congress. Congress still can't quite come to declare independence, but they appoint a commander-in-chief of their armed forces: George Washington. The appointment of George Washington was largely the idea of John Adams, and was as much as a way of "luring" the southern colonies into the independence movement, as it was out of respect for George Washington as a military leader.

1775...........   There are areas of the United States, as well as families, that are "broken-up" by differing feelings of citizens about rebelling against the Crown. This is illustrated by the situation involving Benjamin Franklin's son, William Franklin, governor of New Jersey, who is placed in jail for his refusal to back the rebel cause and his loyalty to the crown.

1775 Dec...  Benedict Arnold's attack on Quebec fails, in a battle that could have gone either way, "if only" this or "if only" that. If the Americans had won this battle, Canada would have most likely become a part of the United States.

1775......      English hire 29,000 German Hessian mercenaries.

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1776 Feb...  Thomas Paine writes "Common Sense", a work that unites many Americans in the Revolutionary cause; gives it the Revolution a cohesive meaning.

1776 Feb 27....  Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge

1776 Mar 26...  British abandon Boston, thanks to General Knox bringing the English cannon obtained after the victory at Ticonderoga.

1776 Mar...  The Privateering Resolution, passed by the Continental Congress in March 1776, allowed the colonists "to fit out armed vessels to cruize [sic] on the enemies of these United Colonies."

1776 Jul...  Declaration of Independence (this transcription shows the signers names at the bottom) Finally, after a year of fighting, the Continental Congress formally declare the independence of the colonies from Britain. Second site.  Read about the fate of some of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

1776...         My ancestor Jacob Vatter/Feather enlists sometime during this year in the Pennsylvania line.

1776...         My ancestor Elijah Baldwin enlists sometime during this year in the Connecticut line.

1776 Jun...   (another source says Feb 27?) English rebuffed in attempts to land forces in the south at Moore's Creek Bridge, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina.

1776 Jun... Richard Henry Lee introduces resolution beginning: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." Congress goes into recess for three weeks, turning the job of drafting the declaration to the "Committee of Five".

1776 July 2... The Declaration of Independence is passed by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York abstaining. Congress spends much of the next two days making refinements and making plans for its distribution to citizens and to the soldiers in the field. On the morning of July 5, copies were dispatched by members of Congress to various assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety as well as to the commanders of Continental troops. Also on July 5, a copy of the printed version of the approved Declaration was inserted into the "rough journal" of the Continental Congress for July 4. The text was followed by the words "Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President. Attest. Charles Thomson, Secretary."

1776 Jul 9...  On July 9 the action of Congress was officially approved by the New York Convention. All 13 colonies had now signified their approval.

1776 Jul 19... On July 19, Congress ordered that the Declaration be "fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and stile [sic] of 'The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America,' and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress." Note, it was NOT signed by every member of Congress. Nonsigners included John Dickinson, who clung to the idea of reconciliation with Britain, and Robert R. Livingston, one of the Committee of Five, who thought the Declaration was premature.

1776 Aug 2... The engrossed copy (done by a professional "engrosser", ie calligrapher) of the Declaration of Independence was signed.

1776 Aug...  30,000 British troops arrive at New York. These troops will now lead to a series of defeats of the colonists in some of the darkest days of the war.

1776 Aug...  Americans defeated at Battle of Long Island.

1776 Sep...  Americans defeated at Battle of Harlem Heights.

1776 Oct 12-16....  Benedict Arnold is "technically" defeated in the at Lake Champlain in the Battle of Valcor Island, but he gives the rebels valuable time by delaying the English march down the Hudson. The English being delayed decide to wait till the following year to followup their efforts to regain Fort Ticonderoga. The English, in the following year, will meet defeat at Saratoga.

1776 Oct 27-28...   Americans defeated at Battle of White Plains

1776 Nov 16..  British capture Fort Washington

1776......      Americans forced from Canada.

1776 Dec...  The fabled "crossing of the Delaware". Washington defeats British at Trenton (Dec 26) and Princeton (Jan 3), New Jersey. A major turning point. After the series of defeats as the British moved into New York, Washington gains a badly needed morale boost for the troops and the nation.

1776 Dec...   Winter quarters at Princeton, New Jersey

1776 Winter... Benjamin Franklin, after being in the country only for a few months after spending years in Britain trying to placate the British before the Revolution, takes off in another grand overseas adventure, this one to be so successful as to greatly affect the outcome of the war.. he becomes the colonies' ambassador to France. His efforts over the years (he stayed there until 1783) resulted in French supplies and money, and eventually ships and men.

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1777.......    Declaration of Continental Congress

1777.......    British defeated at Princeton, New Jersey

1777.......    British defeated at Bennington, Vermont

1777......     Lafeyette's French volunteers arrive in America

1777 Jun... America has a flag

1777 Jul...  English recapture Ticonderoga, New York

1777........    British take control of Delaware

1777........    English General Burgoyne defeated at Bemis Heights, New York

1777.......     Battle of Long Island

1777 Sep 10 ...   English win the Battle of Brandywine, as the Rebels try to stop the British on their way to Philadelphia. The British will spend the winter in Philadelphia, but the members of the Continental Congress escape.

1777 Sep 19..... First Battle of Saratoga, the English are stopped in their advance down the Hudson towards Albany, New York.

1777 Oct...  English General Burgoyne capitulates to Americans at Saratoga, N. Y.  Surrenders his entire Army to the Americans. This is considered the pivotal turning point of the war. Benedict Arnold becomes a national hero and one of America's most effective military leaders.

1777 Oct...   Americans retreat when near victory at Germantown.

1777........    Articles of Confederation ratified.

1777 Dec...  Americans encamp for winter at Valley Forge, PA. Many die from the elements and starvation.

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1778 Feb...   Americans sign treaties with France and Holland. This is another major turning point in the war, and was brought about by the French's view of the American's strength after their victory at Saratoga, plus the guile and diplomacy of Benjamin Franklin, who had achieved something of a "folk hero" status in France.

1778 Jun......  British abandon Philadelphia. It's strategic postion is not critical, and England must be concerned with a larger theatre of war now that the French are threatening to enter the fray.

1778 Jun...   Washington defeats British at Monmouth, New Jersey, as the English travel from Philadelphia to New York. This was probably the largest battle of the war, in terms of numbers of troops. Although this was considered a victory by the Yanks, the British did not surrender; they simply abandoned the fight.

1778 Jul .....        British Loyalist supported Indian massacres at Wyoming, PA and Cherry Valley, NY. See the story of the Isaac Baldwin branch of our Baldwin family who was involved in the Wyoming, PA massacre.

1778 Dec...   British now focus their energies in the south. They capture Savannah, Georgia.

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1779.......      British surrender to Americans at Vincennes in Illinois, The Colonists now control the west.

1779.......     Americans capture Stony Point.

1779.....         American Congress sends troops into Wyoming Valley, PA against the Indian uprising, which had been "instigated" by the British.  Sullivan will eventually wipe out 40 Indian Villages in Pennsylvania and New York, not only putting the Indians in their place, but basically destroying the Illinois Indian Nation.

1779 Winter... Spent in Morristown, New Jersey. Another devastating winter. A small mutiny occurs among the troops which gives Washington cause to worry about the future.

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1780 May...   The focus of the British to the south culminates when Charleston, South Carolina surrenders to the British. It is the fourth largest city in the colonies.

1780.........      French troops arrive at Newport, Rhode Island

1780 Aug...    English, led by Cornwallis, defeats Americans led by Gates, at Camden South Carolina.

1780 Sep....    Gates is recalled and replaced by Nathaneal Green.

1780 Sep...     Benedict Arnold, heroic leader and general of the first three years of the Revolution, is discovered to be behind plot to surrender West Point, the key to the Hudson River. Since the report of the capture of Capt Andre along with the note written by Arnold, was first reported to Arnold; he had time to get on a boat and float down the Hudson and escape into the British camp. George Washington would have rather exchanged Andre for Arnold and hung Arnold, but the British said no to the trade, so Andre was hung instead. Later in the war, Arnold, in charge of British troops, burned his old home town, New London, Connecticut, to the ground.

1780 Oct...      British defeated at King's Mountain, N. C

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1781 Jan...     British defeated at Cowpens, N. C, after a series of victories in the south. A small battle, in terms of numbers of troops, but this battle turned the tide in the south. Daniel Morgan was the general on the field for the colonies. One of the keys to the future was the destruction of the crack cavalry troops of "Butcher" Tarlton. He had acquired this label after killing Americans in an earlier battle who had signalled their surrender.

1781 Mar...    Americans defeated at Guilford, Courthouse, but a costly victory for the British.  Among the tactics employed by the British, out of desperation, was firing grapeshot into the battlefield, killing BOTH British and American soldiers.

1781.......        General Nathanael Greene clears interior of South Carolina and Georgia of the enemy. Once again, the Americans, through Washington, had miracalously found the right man for the job.

1781, Sep 6...  Many of my ancestors were from the New London / Norwich area of Connecticut (Allyn, Backus, Knight, etc). Benedict Arnold was their neighbor. He returned during the Revolution as a traitor and burned his home town.. See: Burning of New London and Groton, Connecticut by forces led by Benedict Arnold.

1781 Oct...     Yorktown. Washington gets word of the British settling in at Yorktown. Realizing the opportunity to finish them off, he requests the Admiral of the French fleet, with no specific authorization from the French government, to aid in the venture. Fortunately for all of us, the Admiral made the decision, on his own, to come to the aid of the Americans and perform a dual role of preventing the British fleet coming to the aid of the British troops at Yorktown and aid in the bombardment of Yorktown. The British are pinned down at Yorktown, surrender; and evacuate Charleston and Savannah. Washington had "out-generaled" Cornwallis.

1781........       Franciscan monks settle in Los Angeles, California (Nothin' to do with the Revolution... just checking to see if you're awake <g>. )

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1782.....           Peace talks begin: Although the British still occupied New York, their inability to win in the North, and now their complete defeat in the South, coupled with the English support at home simply worn out, led to peace negotiations. Thomas Grenville, John Adams, and Ben Franklin are in Paris for the Americans. Adams and Franklin didn't get along, but they eventually hammered out a treaty, after two years.

1782.....           The Revolutionary Army is kept intact until the final peace treaty is signed. Washington realized that America was particularly vulnerable during this period from an invasion by the British. (Fighting between the English and the French, Dutch, and Spanish continued in the West Indies during this period.) Forces were not disbanded until Sep 1783. In the meantime, dissatisfaction of how the country was "getting off the ground" and with Congress, in particular, provided a ripe environment for a military coup. There were plans of such a coup, but Washington's presence and eversteady support of Congress prevented such a coup from happening. Washington's leadership during this two year period was as important as during the period of actual fighting.

1783 Sep 3 ...... Treaty of Paris officially ends the Revolutionary War

1783.....    The British finally leave New York. Washington and his officers hold a "good-bye" dinner at a tavern in New York City. The world, and some Americans, are stunned that Washington did not assume the role of King, but rather simply announced his job was done and he was retiring from public life.

1783.....    France is near bankruptcy, largely attributable to their support of our Revolution. They will have their own revolution in just a few years. Caused partly by economic conditions caused by the financial support of the American Revolution, and spurred by the success of our Revolution.

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