For more than a century, England had possessed 13 colonies stretching along the coast between Canada and Florida. The British Parliament made laws that benefited the English merchants, and by 1750 had passed many laws to encourage trade with its colonies. Some of the laws forbade them to trade with other countries or, in some cases, with one another. Had all these laws been rigidly carried out, the great Revolution might have come before it did. This timeline of events through the Revolutionary War would see a Nation’s birth and the world’s beacon of Freedom.
British Reforms and Colonial Resistance:
February 1764 – James Otis urges a united response to the recent acts imposed by England. The phrase “Taxation without Representation is Tyranny” is usually attributed to James Otis.
July 1764 – James Otis published “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved.”
August 1764 – Boston, Massachusetts merchants begin a boycott of British luxury goods.
March 22, 1765 – The Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament.
March 24, 1765 – The Quartering Act required American colonists to house British troops and food.
July 1765 – The Sons of Liberty, a secret organization opposed to the Stamp Act, was formed.
December 1765 – Over 200 Boston merchants refuse to pay the Stamp Tax.
January 1766 – The New York assembly refuses to enforce the Quartering Act fully.
March 18, 1766 – The Stamp Act was repealed.
August 1766 – Violence breaks out in New York between British soldiers and members of the Sons of Liberty.
July 1768 – Merchants in Boston and New York boycott British goods
September 1768 – English warships sail into Boston Harbor, leaving two regiments of English troops to keep order.
March 1770 – The Boston Massacre occurs, and British troops shoot four workers in Boston, Massachusetts.
December 16, 1773 – The Boston Tea Party occurred when Massachusetts patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians protested against the British Tea Act by dumping crates of tea into Boston Harbor.
1774 – The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
March 1774 – The Coercive Acts, called Intolerable Acts by Americans, are implemented.
The American Revolution Begins:
February 9, 1775 – The English Parliament declares Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion.
April 14, 1775 – Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage is ordered by the British to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress any rebellion among colonists by using all necessary force.
April 18, 1775 – General Thomas Gage orders 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists’ weapons depot. Paul Revere and William Dawes are sent from Boston to warn the colonists. Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were hiding in Lexington, Massachusetts, were able to escape.
April 19, 1775 – The first shots are fired at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, destroyed by the weapons depot. “Minute Men” forced British troops back to Boston. George Washington takes command of the Continental Army.
April 19, 1775 – American Militia defeated British regulars at Concord, Massachusetts.
April 23, 1775 – The Provincial Congress in Massachusetts ordered 13,600 American soldiers to be mobilized. Colonial volunteers from all over New England assemble and head for Boston and begin a year-long city siege.
May 10, 1775 – The Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with John Hancock elected president.
May 10, 1775 – American forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga and its artillery in New York.
May 15, 1775 – The Second Continental Congress places the colonies in a state of defense.
June 15, 1775 – The Second Continental Congress unanimously votes to appoint George Washington general and the new Continental Army commander-in-chief.
June 17, 1775 – The first significant fight between British and American troops occurs in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
July 3, 1775 – General George Washington assumes command of the Continental Army, about 17,000 men, at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
July 5, 1775 – The Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition, which appeals directly to King George III for reconciliation.
July 6, 1775 – The Continental Congress issues a Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. It details the colonists’ reasons for fighting the British and states the Americans are “resolved to die, free men, rather than live as slaves.”
The American Revolution, the American War of Independence, led by George Washington, began between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies in North America.
July 26, 1775 – An American Post Office is established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General.
August 1775 – King George III refuses even to look at the petition submitted by the Continental Congress and instead issues a proclamation declaring the Americans to be in a state of open rebellion.
November 10-21, 1775 – The British sieged the Patriots at Ninety-Six, South Carolina. The battle ended in a truce.
November 28, 1775 – Congress establishes the American Navy.
November 29, 1775- Congress appoints a secret committee to seek help from European nations.
December 1775 – Congress is informed that France may offer support in the war against Britain.
December 11, 1775 – Virginia and North Carolina patriots routed Loyalist troops and burned Norfolk.
December 22, 1775 – At Great Canebrake, South Carolina, Colonel William Thomson, with 1,500 rangers and militia, captured the Loyalists’ force.
December 23, 1775 – King George III issued a royal proclamation closing the American colonies to all commerce and trade, to take effect in March of 1776.
December 23-30, 1775 – During the Snow Campaign in South Carolina against Loyalists, the Patriot militia is impeded by 15″ of snow.
February 27, 1776 – North Carolina militia defeated South Carolina Loyalists at Moore’s Creek, North Carolina, inflicting heavy casualties.
March 4-17, 1776 – At Dorchester Heights, Massachusetts, American forces capture Dorchester Heights, which overlooks Boston harbor. The British evacuated Boston and set sail for Halifax.
March 17, 1776 – British Navy evacuated Boston, Massachusetts, and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Washington’s Army then occupies Boston.
April 6, 1776 – The Continental Congress declares colonial shipping ports open to all traffic except the British
April 12, 1776 – The North Carolina assembly is the first to empower its delegates in the Continental Congress to vote for independence from Britain.
May 2, 1776 – The Continental Congress gets the much-needed foreign support they had hoped for. King Louis XVI of France commits one million dollars in arms and munitions. Spain then also promises support.
May 10, 1776 – The Continental Congress authorizes each of the 13 colonies to form provincial governments.
June 7, 1776 – Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presents a formal resolution calling America to declare independence from Britain. Congress has decided to postpone its decision on this until July.
June 8, 1776 – Patriot attempt to take British position in Three Rivers, Canada failed.
June 11, 1776 – Congress appoints a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Committee members are Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston, and Roger Sherman. The committee chose Thomas Jefferson to prepare the declaration’s first draft, which he completed in one day.
June 28, 1776 – Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is ready and presented to Congress, with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
June 28, 1776 – At Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, the British naval attack failed when the palmetto logs were held against the bombardment.
June-July, 1776 – A massive British war fleet arrives in New York Harbor consisting of 30 battleships with 1200 cannons, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships, under the command of General William Howe and his brother Admiral Lord Richard Howe.
July 1, 1776 – Incited by British royal agents, the Cherokee attacked the entire southern frontier.
July 2, 1776 – Twelve of 13 colonial delegations (New York abstains) vote for Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence.
July 4, 1776 – The Congress formally endorsed Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, with copies to be sent to all colonies.
July 12, 1776 – As a show of force, two British frigates sail up the Hudson River, blasting their guns. Peace feelers are then extended to the Americans. At the request of the British, General George Washington met with General William Howe’s representatives in New York and listened to vague offers of clemency for the American rebels. Washington politely declines before he leaves.
July 15, 1776 – At Lyndley’s Fort, South Carolina, Patriots defended against attack by Indians, and the British dressed as Indians.
August 1, 1776 – At Seneca, South Carolina, Americans were ambushed by Cherokee Indians. A mounted charge saved patriot forces.
August 10, 1776 – Cherokee Indians defeated by Andrew Pickens at Tugaloo River, South Carolina.
August 1776 – In the Ring Fight in South Carolina, 200 Cherokee Indians attacked Andrew Pickens and 25 militia. The Patriots held off attackers from a circle, firing in turn until a rescue force arrived.
August 12, 1776 – Colonel David Williamson and Andrew Pickens defeated a large Cherokee war party and burned the Indian town near Tamassee, South Carolina.
August 27, 1776 – George Washington’s Army is defeated but escaped by night in the fog at Long Island, New York.
August 27-29, 1776 – General William Howe leads 15,000 soldiers against Washington’s Army in the Battle of Long Island, New York. Washington, outnumbered two to one, suffers a severe defeat as his Army is outflanked and scatters. The Americans retreat to Brooklyn Heights, facing possible British capture or total surrender.
September 11, 1776 – A peace conference is held on Staten Island, New York, with British Admiral Lord Richard Howe meeting American representatives, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The conference fails, however, as Howe demands the colonists revoke the Declaration of Independence.
September 16, 1776 – After evacuating New York City, Washington’s Army repulses a British attack during the Battle of Harlem Heights in upper Manhattan, New York. Several days later, fire engulfed New York City and destroyed over 300 buildings.
September 19, 1776 – Colonel David Williamson’s patriots were attacked by Cherokee south of Franklin, North Carolina, in a gorge known as the Black Hole. Americans eventually cleared the pass.
September 22, 1776 – After he is caught spying on British troops on Long Island, New York, Nathan Hale is executed without a trial; his last words are, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
September 26, 1776 – Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Silas Deane to negotiate treaties with European governments. Franklin and Deane then travel to France seeking financial and military aid.
October 11, 1776 – Benedict Arnold engaged a British squadron with makeshift boats on Lake Champlain. Arnold was defeated but delayed the British until it was too close to winter to continue their campaign.
October 28, 1776 – After evacuating his main forces from Manhattan, George Washington’s Army suffers heavy casualties in the Battle of White Plains, New York, from General William Howe’s forces. General George Washington then retreats westward.
November 16, 1776 – American commander surrendered Fort Washington, New York, to the Hessians.
November 20, 1776 – Lord Charles Cornwallis captured Fort Lee, New Jersey. Nathanael Greene abandoned the position.
December 6, 1776 – The British captured the naval base at Newport, Rhode Island.
December 11, 1776 – General George Washington takes his troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.
December 12, 1776 – With concerns of a possible British attack, the Continental Congress abandons Philadelphia for Baltimore, Maryland.
December 26, 1776 – General George Washington re-crosses the Delaware River, conducts a surprise raid on a Hessian brigade, and defeats it. Known as the Battle of Trenton.
January 3, 1777 – A second victory for General George Washington as his troops defeat the British at Princeton and drive them back toward New Brunswick.
Winter, 1777 – General George Washington establishes winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. During the harsh winter, Washington’s Army shrinks to about a thousand men as enlistments die and deserters flee the hardships. By spring, with the arrival of recruits, Washington will have 9,000 men.
February 6, 1777 – General Washington orders the inoculation against smallpox of all new recruits entering Philadelphia and each troop division in 5-day intervals. It is the first medical mandate in America.
March 12, 1777 – The Continental Congress returns to Philadelphia from Baltimore after Washington’s successes against the British in New Jersey.
April 27, 1777 – American troops under Benedict Arnold defeat the British at Ridgefield, Connecticut.
May 20, 1777 – The Cherokee sued for peace and lost most of their land east of the mountains in the Treaty of DeWitt’s Corner, South Carolina.
June 14, 1777 – The flag of the United States, consisting of 13 stars and 13 white and red stripes, is mandated by Congress.
June 14, 1777 – Congress chooses John Paul Jones to captain the 18-gun vessel Ranger with a mission to raid coastal towns of England.
June 17, 1777 – A British force of 7,700 men under General John Burgoyne invades from Canada, sailing down Lake Champlain toward Albany, planning to link up with General William Howe, who will come north from New York City, thus cutting off New England from the rest of the colonies.
July 6, 1777 – General John Burgoyne’s troops surprise the Americans with the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, New York, on Lake Champlain. Washington’s forces greatly need its military supplies. The loss of the fort is a tremendous blow to American morale.
July 23, 1777 – British General William Howe, with 15,000 men, sets sail from New York for the Chesapeake Bay to capture Philadelphia instead of sailing north to meet up with General John Burgoyne.
July 27, 1777 – Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French aristocrat, arrives in Philadelphia and volunteers to serve without pay. Congress appoints him as a major general in the Continental Army. Lafayette will become one of General Washington’s most trusted aides.
August 1, 1777 – General John Burgoyne reaches the Hudson River after a grueling month spent crossing 23 miles of wilderness separating Lake Champlain’s southern tip from the Hudson River’s northern tip.
August 6, 1777 – British column with Iroquois warriors attack Oriskany, New York from Oswego. rescue troops ambushed.
August 16, 1777 – British General John Burgoyne detached Hessians, British regulars, Loyalists, and Iroquois against Bennington, Vermont. American militia attacked and defeated the British. Known as the Battle of Bennington.
August 23, 1777 – Benedict Arnold intended to siege Fort Stanwix, New York, but the Indians and Loyalists deserted, and the British retired.
August 25, 1777 – British General William Howe disembarks at Chesapeake Bay with his troops.
September 9-11, 1777 – At Brandywine, Pennsylvania, General George Washington and the main American Army of 10,500 men are driven back toward Philadelphia by General William Howe’s British troops. Both sides suffer heavy losses.
September 11, 1777 – Once again worried about an attack, Congress leaves Philadelphia and resettles in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
September 26, 1777 – British forces under General William Howe occupied Philadelphia. Congress relocates again to York, Pennsylvania.
October 17, 1777 – General John Burgoyne surrendered his British Army to American Major General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York. It is the first major American victory of the Revolutionary War.
September 21, 1777 – British troops attacked with bayonets and surprised Americans at Paoli, Pennsylvania. Americans called it the “Paoli Massacre.”
October 4, 1777 – At Germantown, Pennsylvania, an American attack on British positions failed.
November 15, 1777 – Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation as the government of the new United States of America. Conditions are terrible for the soldiers.
December 17, 1777 – At Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the Continental Army led by General George Washington sets up winter quarters.
February 6, 1778 – France signed a treaty with the Continental Congress to provide troops, ships, and supplies to America.
February 23, 1778 – Baron von Steuben of Prussia arrives at Valley Forge to join the Continental Army. He then begins much-needed training and drilling of Washington’s troops, now suffering from poor morale resulting from cold, hunger, disease, low supplies, and desertions over the long, harsh winter.
March 16, 1778 – The British Parliament creates a Peace Commission to negotiate with the Americans. The commission then travels to Philadelphia, where its offers granting all of the American demands, except independence, are rejected by Congress.
May 8, 1778 – British General Henry Clinton replaces General William Howe as commander of all British forces in the American colonies.
May 30, 1778 – A campaign of terror against American frontier settlements, instigated by the British, begins as 300 Iroquois Indians burn Cobleskill, New York.
June 18, 1778 – Fearing a blockade by French ships, British General Henry Clinton withdraws his troops from Philadelphia and marches across New Jersey toward New York City. Americans then re-occupy Philadelphia.
June 19, 1778 – General George Washington sends troops from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to intercept General Henry Clinton.
June 27-28, 1778 – The Battle of Monmouth occurs in New Jersey as Washington’s troops and General Henry Clinton’s troops fight to a standoff.
July 2, 1778 – Congress returns once again to Philadelphia.
July 3, 1778 – British Loyalists and Indians massacre American settlers in the Wyoming Valley of northern Pennsylvania.
July 4, 1778 – Kaskaskia, Illinois, is captured by Colonel George Rogers Clark.
July 8, 1778 – General George Washington sets up headquarters at West Point, New York.
July 10, 1778 – France declares war against Britain.
September 14, 1778 – Benjamin Franklin is appointed to be the American diplomatic representative in France.
August 8, 1778 – American land forces and French ships attempt to conduct a combined siege against Newport, Rhode Island. But bad weather and delays of the land troops result in failure. The weather-damaged French fleet then sails to Boston for repairs.
December 29, 1778 – The British begin a major southern campaign with the capture of Savannah, Georgia, followed a month later with the capture of Augusta.
February 3, 1779 – Major General Moultrie defeated a British detachment at Port Royal Island, South Carolina.
February 14, 1779 – At Kettle Creek, Georgia, Andrew Pickens and Elijah Clarke and their Georgia and Carolina militia defeated North Carolina Loyalist militia traveling to Augusta to join the British forces.
February 24, 1779 – Loyalists and Indians recaptured Vincennes, Indiana, but George Rogers Clark forced them to retreat.
March 3, 1779 – British Lieutenant Colonel Augustine Prevost defeated Americans under General John Ashe at Brier Creek, Georgia.
April 1-30, 1779 – In retaliation for Indian raids on colonial settlements, American troops from North Carolina and Virginia attacked Chickamauga Indian villages in Tennessee.
May 10, 1779 – British troops burn Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia.
May 11-13, 1779 – In Charleston, South Carolina, Major General Augustine Prevost had to break his siege as American forces under Major General Benjamin Lincoln approached.
June 1, 1779 – British General Henry Clinton takes 6,000 men up the Hudson River toward West Point, New York.
June 16, 1779 – Spain declares war on England but does not ally with the American Revolutionary forces.
June 20, 1779 – Major General Benjamin Lincoln engaged a British rear guard at Stono River, South Carolina. The indecisive battle resulted in many casualties.
July 10, 1779 – The British destroyed naval ships from Massachusetts while attempting to take the Loyalist stronghold of Castine, Maine.
July 5-11, 1779 – Loyalists raid coastal towns in Connecticut, burning Fairfield, Norwalk, and ships in New Haven harbor.
July 16, 1779 – At Stony Point, New York, Americans attacked with bayonets, only resulting in extensive British casualties.
July-August 1779 – American attempt to dislodge the British along the Penobscot River in Maine failed.
August 13, 1779 – At Paulus Hook, New Jersey, the Americans make a successful surprise attack on British outposts.
August 14, 1779 – A peace plan is approved by Congress, which stipulates independence, complete British evacuation of America, and free navigation on the Mississippi River.
August 28, 1779 – After two terrible massacres, American forces moved into the Indian territory of New York and burned villages. Iroquois and Seneca’s power was diminished, although they remained hostile.
August 29, 1779 – At Elmira, New York, American forces defeated the combined Indian and Loyalist forces at Elmira, New York. Following the victory, American troops headed northwest and destroyed nearly 40 Cayuga and Seneca Indian villages in retaliation for the campaign of terror against American settlers.
September 16-Oct 19, 1779 – American Army under Major General Benjamin Lincoln failed to dislodge the British from Savannah, Georgia.
September 23, 1779 – Off the coast of England, John Paul Jones fights a desperate battle with a British frigate. When the British demand his surrender, Jones responds, “I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones then captures the frigate before his ship sinks.
September 27, 1779 – Congress appointed John Adams to negotiate peace with England.
November 11, 1778 – At Cherry Valley, New York, Loyalists and Indians massacre over 40 American settlers.
December 26, 1779 – British General Henry Clinton sets sail from New York with 8,000 men and heads for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving on February 1, 1780.
Winter 1779-1780 – Morristown, New Jersey, sheltered the main encampments of the American Continental Army and served as the winter quarters of its commander-in-chief, General George Washington.
April 8, 1780 – At Charleston, South Carolina, the British attack begins as warships sail past the cannons of Fort Moultrie and enter Charleston harbor. General George Washington sends reinforcements.
April 14, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton scattered American militia at Monck’s Corner, South Carolina.
May 6, 1780 – The British captured Fort Moultrie at Charleston, South Carolina.
May 6, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton dispersed American cavalry at Lenud’s Ferry, South Carolina.
May 12, 1780 – The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred as the British captured Charleston, South Carolina, the entire southern American Army, and four ships and a military arsenal. British losses are only 225.
May 25, 1780 – After a severe winter, General George Washington faces a serious threat of mutiny at his winter camp in Morristown, New Jersey. Two Continental regiments conduct an armed march through the camp and demand immediate payment of salary, which is overdue by five months, and full rations. Troops from Pennsylvania put down the rebellion, and two protest leaders were hanged.
May 29, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his Loyalist Legion bayoneted 113 Continental soldiers of Colonel Buford’s Virginia unit at Waxhaws, South Carolina. Known as Buford’s Massacre.
June 5, 1780 – Lord Charles Cornwallis assumes command of the British Army in the South.
June 11, 1780 – A new Massachusetts constitution is endorsed, asserting “all men are born free and equal,” including black slaves.
July 11, 1780 – Six Thousand French soldiers under Count de Rochambeau arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. They will remain there for nearly a year, blockaded by the British fleet.
June 13, 1780 – Congress commissions General Horatio Gates to command the Southern Army.
June 20, 1780 – At Ramsour’s Mill, North Carolina, Patriot forces defeated Loyalist forces, ultimately resulting in losing Loyalist support in the colony.
June 23, 1780 – American forces defeat the British in the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey.
July 12, 1780 – At Williamson’s Plantation, South Carolina, the Patriot forces of Thomas Sumter’s command defeated Loyalist Christian Huck and his forces. Huck was killed.
July 12, 1780 – At Cedar Springs, South Carolina, a spartan regiment of Patriots ambushed the Loyalist attacking party.
July 13, 1780 – At Gowen’s Old Fort, South Carolina, Georgia Patriots attacked a Loyalist camp and defeated them.
July 25, 1780 – General Horatio Gates assumes command of the Southern Continental Army.
July 30, 1780 – At Rocky Mount, South Carolina, Thomas Sumter’s troops attacked the British post but were forced to withdraw.
July 30, 1780 – At Hanging Rock I, South Carolina, North Carolina Royalists were attacked by North Carolina Patriots who succeeded in capturing weapons and horses.
August 3, 1780 – Benedict Arnold is appointed the commander of West Point. Unknown to the Americans, he has secretly collaborated with British General Henry Clinton since May 1779 by supplying information on General George Washington’s tactics.
August 6, 1780 – At Hanging Rock II, South Carolina, Thomas Sumter attacked the British post and inflicted heavy casualties but was forced to retreat.
August 15, 1780 – At Kershaw County, South Carolina, Patriot militia attacked and captured Carey’s Fort and took a supply convoy from Ninety-Six.
August 16, 1780 – In the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, Major General Horatio Gates and the Continental Army were badly defeated by Lord Charles Cornwallis and the British forces.
August 18, 1780 – At Fishing Creek, South Carolina, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton surprised Thomas Sumter’s command and defeated it.
August 18, 1780 – At Musgrove’s Mill, South Carolina, frontier riflemen and militiamen lured the British into an ambush and defeated them.
August 25, 1780 – At Nelson’s Ferry, South Carolina, Francis Marion attacked a British convoy and released 150 Americans who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Camden.
September 4, 1780 – At Blue Savannah, South Carolina, Francis Marion led British Loyalists into an ambush and defeated them.
September 14-18, 1780 – Elijah Clarke attacked McKay’s Trading Post in Georgia but was driven off when the British relief column arrived. American prisoners taken were hanged or turned over to the Cherokee to be tortured and killed.
September 21, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Davie attacked Banastre Tarleton at Wahab’s Plantation, North Carolina, and captured horses and equipment.
September 23, 1780 – A British major in civilian clothing is captured near Tarrytown, New York. He is found to be carrying plans indicating Benedict Arnold intends to turn traitor and surrender West Point. Two days later, Arnold hears of the spy’s capture and flees West Point to the British ship Vulture on the Hudson River. He is later named a brigadier general in the British Army and fights the Americans.
September 26, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Davie and 150 American soldiers ambushed Tarleton’s Legion at Charlotte, North Carolina but were driven off by reinforcements.
September 28-29, 1780 – At Black Mingo, South Carolina, Francis Marion attacked a Loyalist encampment and drove them into the swamp.
October 14, 1780 – General Nathanael Greene is named as the new commander of the Southern Army, replacing General Gates. Greene then begins a strategy of rallying popular support and wearing down the British by leading General Charles Cornwallis on a six-month chase through the backwoods of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
October 7, 1780 – Frontier militia from North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina surrounded Patrick Ferguson’s force at Kings Mountain, South Carolina and defeated them. This was a decisive victory for the Patriots and a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
October 25, 1780 – Francis Marion routed a Loyalist force under Samuel Tynes at Tearcoat Swamp, South Carolina.
November 9, 1780 – At Fish Dam Ford, South Carolina, a search and destroy mission by the British was intended to murder Thomas Sumter. A night attack failed, and the British retreated, leaving their wounded.
November 20, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton pushed his cavalry in pursuit of Thomas Sumter and attacked at Blackstocks, South Carolina. The British were beaten back with heavy casualties.
December 2, 1780 – General Nathanael Greene assumes command of the Southern Army.
December 12, 1780 – At Long Cane, South Carolina, an attack by Americans against a British force four times their number resulted in Georgia militia leader, Elijah Clarke, sustaining serious wounds.
December 12, 1780 – At Halfway Swamp, South Carolina, Francis Marion engaged a large Loyalist group, which retreated. An attempt to trap the Loyalists at Singleton’s Mill, South Carolina, failed when it was discovered that the Singleton family had smallpox.
December 30, 1780 – Brigadier General Daniel Morgan sent Colonel William Washington with Continental Dragoons and mounted militia to attack Georgia Loyalists at Hammond’s Store, South Carolina. The Loyalists suffered 150 casualties.
January 3, 1781 – Mutiny among Americans in New Jersey as troops from Pennsylvania set up camp near Princeton, New Jersey, and chose their own representatives to negotiate with state officials back in Pennsylvania. Negotiations eventually resolved the crisis, but over half of the mutineers abandoned the Army.
January 17, 1781 – Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his Army of British regulars in the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina. This was the turning point of the Revolution, as British troops never recovered from this defeat.
January 20, 1781 – In Pompton, New Jersey, there is mutiny among American troops. The rebellion is put down seven days later by a 600-man force sent by General George Washington. Two of the leaders are then hanged.
January 24-25, 1781 – Francis Marion and Light Horse Harry Lee captured Georgetown, South Carolina.
February 1, 1781 – North Carolina militia were defeated as they attempted to prevent Lord Charles Cornwallis from crossing the Catawba River at Cowan’s Ford, North Carolina.
February 1, 1781 – At Tarrant’s Tavern in North Carolina, Tarleton’s Legion charged a force of North Carolina militia with sabers inflicting heavy casualties.
February 25, 1781 – At Haw River, North Carolina, Loyalists were tricked into believing that they were being reviewed by Banastre Tarleton when they actually had encountered Lieutenant Colonel Light Horse Harry Lee, whose Continental Legion wore green jackets as did Tarleton’s men. Lee ordered a saber attack and butchered the Loyalists. This tended to intimidate the Loyalists in that area.
March 6, 1781 – At Wiboo Swamp, South Carolina, Francis Marion began a retreating action that thwarted the British column led by Colonel Watson.
March 1781 – Colonel Hugh Horry’s troops held the Mount Hope Swamp, South Carolina, while Francis Marion withdrew.
March 1781 – McCottrey’s Rifles, a unit of Marion’s Brigade, inflicted heavy casualties on Samuel Tynes with deadly accurate fire from long rifles at Lower Bridge of the Black River, South Carolina.
March 1781 – While Francis Marion was fighting Samuel Tynes, another British unit attacked his camp at Snows Island, South Carolina. Defenders destroyed all the supplies before they fled the position.
March 15, 1781 – In the Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina, Major General Nathanael Greene opposed Lord Cornwallis. Greene retreated in good order leaving the field to Cornwallis. Although the British technically won that battle, Charles Cornwallis had lost 28% of his Army in the encounter.
March 28, 1781 – Marion’s Brigade, still pursued by Samuel Tynes, now forced Tynes to retreat. Francis Marion followed and destroyed the rearguard as they attempted to cross the river at Sampit Bridge, South Carolina.
April 15-23, 1781 – Light Horse Harry Lee and his Legion joined Francis Marion in a siege of Fort Watson, South Carolina, built on an Indian mound. A tall log tower was erected with a platform on top, shielding riflemen who overlooked the fort. British surrendered.
April 25, 1781 – At Hobkirk Hill, South Carolina, Nathanael Greene and the Continental Army engaged the British forces under Lord Rawdon, who won the field. Greene retreated.
May 8-12, 1781 – At Fort Motte, South Carolina, Light Horse Harry Lee and Francis Marion forced the British out of the post by setting it on fire.
May 10, 1781 – Lord Rawdon evacuated Camden, South Carolina. It was leave or starve.
May 11, 1781 – Thomas Sumter took Orangeburg, South Carolina.
May 15, 1781 – Light Horse Harry Lee captured Fort Granby, South Carolina, without resistance
May 19, 1781 – Light Horse Harry Lee’s Legion captured Fort Galphin, South Carolina, with all the Indian goods confiscated.
May 21, 1781 – General George Washington and French General Jean Baptiste Rochambeau meet in Connecticut for a war council. General Rochambeau reluctantly agrees to Washington’s plan for a joint French naval and American ground attack on New York.
May 22-June 19, 1781 – Major General Greene’s Siege of Ninety-Six in South Carolina was terminated by the arrival of British reinforcements.
June 4, 1781 – A surprise raid by Banastre Tarleton captured seven members of the Virginia legislature in Charlottesville, Virginia. Governor Thomas Jefferson barely escaped.
June 5, 1781 – Lieutenant Colonel Light Horse Harry Lee, Patriot leaders Elijah Clarke and Andrew Pickens forced the British to surrender the fort at Augusta, Georgia.
June 10, 1781 – American troops under Marquis de Lafayette, General Anthony Wayne, and Baron von Steuben begin to form a combined force in Virginia to oppose British forces under Benedict Arnold and General Cornwallis.
June 11, 1781 – Congress appoints a Peace Commission comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and Henry Laurens. The commission supplements John Adams as the sole negotiator with the British.
June 26, 1781 – The Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, was indecisive. French Marquis Lafayette commanded American troops.
July 6, 1781 – Marquis Lafayette attacked a superior British force at Green Springs Plantation, Virginia, and was defeated.
July 16, 1781 – At Biggin Church, South Carolina, British forces attacked Thomas Sumter, but the attack was broken and the British retreated.
July 17, 1781 – Quinby Bridge, South Carolina, Thomas Sumter, Francis Marion, and Light Horse Harry Lee engaged the British but could not force a retreat.
July 20, 1781 – Slaves in Williamsburg, Virginia, rebel and burn several buildings.
August 1, 1781 – After several months of chasing General Greene’s Army without much success, General Charles Cornwallis and his 10,000 tired soldiers arrive to seek rest at the small port of Yorktown, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay. He then establishes a base to communicate by sea with General Henry Clinton’s forces in New York.
August 2, 1781 – A British raiding party landed at Georgetown, South Carolina, and burned several houses.
August 4, 1781 – The British hanged Colonel Isaac Hayne in Charleston, South Carolina, as a warning to patriots. It had the opposite effect.
August 14, 1781 – General George Washington abruptly changes plans. It abandons the attack on New York in favor of Yorktown after receiving a letter from French Admiral Count de Grasse indicating his entire 29-ship French fleet with 3,000 soldiers is now heading for the Chesapeake Bay near British General Charles Cornwallis. George Washington then coordinates with French General Jean Baptiste Rochambeau to rush their best troops south to Virginia to destroy the British position in Yorktown.
August 19, 1781 – General George Washington moves to combine American and French forces. French Naval Fleet engages British Fleet on the Chesapeake Bay. This leaves General Charles Cornwallis stranded at Yorktown.
August 30, 1781 – Count Francois de Grasse’s French fleet arrives off Yorktown, Virginia. De Grasse then lands troops near Yorktown, linking with Lafayette’s American troops to cut General Charles Cornwallis off from any retreat by land.
September 1, 1781 – The troops of General George Washington and French General Jean Baptiste Rochambeau arrive at Philadelphia.
September 5-8, 1781 – Off the coast of Yorktown, Virginia, a major naval battle occurs between the French fleet of Francois de Grasse and the outnumbered British fleet of Admiral Thomas Graves, resulting in a victory for de Grasse. The British fleet retreats to New York for reinforcements, leaving the French fleet in control of Chesapeake Bay. The French fleet establishes a blockade, cutting General Charles Cornwallis off from any retreat by sea. French naval reinforcements then arrive from Newport.
September 6, 1781 – Benedict Arnold’s troops loot and burn the port of New London, Connecticut.
September 8, 1781 – Greene’s Continental Army, with the addition of militia, fought a bloody battle at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. Although not victorious, the Americans inflicted and sustained heavy losses.
September 12, 1781 – North Carolina Loyalists captured 200 American prisoners, including North Carolina Governor Thomas Burke, at Hillsboro, North Carolina. Loyalist leader, MacNeil, was killed in the raid.
September 14-24, 1781 – De Grasse sends his ships up the Chesapeake Bay to transport the armies of General George Washington and General Jean Baptiste Rochambeau to Yorktown.
September 28-October 17, 1781 – General George Washington conducts a siege at Yorktown, Virginia.
October 3, 1781 – At Gloucester, Virginia, Tarleton’s last action was protecting a British foraging party.
October 17, 1781 – As Yorktown is about to be taken, the British send out a flag of truce. General George Washington and General Charles Cornwallis then work out terms of surrender.
October 19, 1781 – General Charles Cornwallis surrenders his Army at Yorktown, New York.
October 24, 1781 – 7,000 British reinforcements under General Henry Clinton arrive at Chesapeake Bay but turn back on hearing of the surrender at Yorktown.
November 17, 1781 – Bloody Bill Cunningham slaughters a Patriot force of 30 at Clouds Creek, South Carolina.
November 18, 1781 – British evacuate Wilmington, North Carolina.
November 19, 1781 – Cunningham kills a patriot force of 15 at Hayes’s Station, South Carolina.
February 14, 1782 – Thomson defeated Marion’s Brigade at Wambaw Creek, South Carolina.
February 25, 1782 – Thomson again defeated Marion’s Brigade at Tydiman’s Plantation, South Carolina.
January 1, 1782 – Loyalists begin leaving America, heading north to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
January 5, 1782 – The British withdraw from North Carolina.
February 27, 1782 – In England, the House of Commons votes against further war in America.
March 5, 1782 – The British Parliament empowers the King to negotiate peace with the United States.
March 7, 1782 – American militiamen massacre 96 Delaware Indians in Ohio in retaliation for Indian raids conducted by other tribes.
March 20, 1782 – British Prime Minister, Lord North, resigns, succeeded two days later by Lord Rockingham, who seeks immediate negotiations with the American peace commissioners.
April 4, 1782 – Sir Guy Carleton becomes the new commander of British forces in America, replacing General Henry Clinton. Carleton will implement the new British policy of ending hostilities and withdrawing British troops from America.
April 12, 1782 – Peace talks begin in Paris between Benjamin and Richard Oswald of Britain.
April 16, 1782 – General George Washington establishes the American army headquarters in Newburgh, New York.
April 19, 1782 – The Dutch recognize the United States of America due to negotiations conducted in the Netherlands by John Adams.
June 11, 1782 – The British evacuate Savannah, Georgia.
June 20, 1782 – Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States of America.
August 19, 1782 – Loyalist and Indian forces attack and defeat American settlers near Lexington, Kentucky.
August 25, 1782 – Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant conducts raids on settlements in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
August 27, 1782 – The last fighting of the Revolutionary War between Americans and the British occurred with a skirmish in South Carolina along the Combahee River.
August 29, 1782 – Francis Marion’s last engagement against South Carolina Royal Dragoons occurs at Fair Lawn Plantation, South Carolina. Marion then retreated.
September 16-October 17, 1782 – Andrew Pickens and Elijah Clarke, with 414 men, marched against raiding Cherokee. Chiefs made a temporary peace agreement which Georgia ratified.
November 10, 1782 – The final battle of the Revolutionary War occurs as Americans retaliate against Loyalist and Indian forces by attacking a Shawnee Indian village in the Ohio territory.
November 30, 1782 – A preliminary peace treaty is signed in Paris. Terms include recognition of American independence and the boundaries of the United States, along with British withdrawal from America.
December 14, 1782 – The British evacuated Charleston, South Carolina. 3,800 Loyalists and 5,000 slaves leave with them.
December 15, 1782 – The French expressed strong objections over the signing of the peace treaty in Paris without America first consulting them. Benjamin then soothes their anger with a diplomatic response and prevents a falling out between France and America.
January 20, 1783 – England signs a preliminary peace treaty with France and Spain.
February 3, 1783 – Spain recognizes the United States of America, followed later by Sweden, Denmark, and Russia.
February 4, 1783 – England officially declares an end to hostilities in America.
April 11, 1783 – Congress officially declares an end to the Revolutionary War.
April 15, 1783 – The Second Treaty of Paris.
April 26, 1783 – 7000 Loyalists set sail from New York for Canada, bringing a total of 100,000 Loyalists who have now fled America.
June 13, 1783 – The main part of the Continental Army disbands.
November 25, 1783 – The British forces evacuate New York and Brooklyn, the last British troops to leave the colonies.
Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2023.
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