American Revolution Timeline


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.

Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton

April 14, 1780 – Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton scattered American militia at Monck’s Corner, South Carolina.

May 6, 1780 – The British capture 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 occurs as the British capture Charleston, South Carolina and the entire southern American Army along with 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 of the leaders of the protest 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,” which includes black slaves.

July 11, 1780 – Six Thousand French soldiers under Count de Rochambeau arrive at Newport, Rhode Island. They will remain there for nearly a year, blockaded by the British fleet.

June 13, 1780 – General Horatio Gates is commissioned by Congress to command the Southern Army.

June 20, 1780 – At Ramsour’s Mill, North Carolina, Patriot forces defeated Loyalist forces, ultimately resulting in loss of Loyalist support in the colony.

June 23, 1780 – American forces defeat the British in the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey.

Major General Thomas Sumter

Major General Thomas Sumter

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 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 been secretly collaborating 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 British post and inflicted heavy casualties but was forced to retreat.

Aug 15, 1780 – At Kershaw County, South Carolina, Patriot militia attacked and captured Carey’s Fort and took a supply convoy from Ninety-Six.

Battle of Camden, South Carolina, B. Patrick White

Battle of Camden, South Carolina, B. Patrick White

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.

Lieutenant Colonel William Davie

Lieutenant Colonel William Davie

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 will fight 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 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 choose their own representatives to negotiate with state officials back in Pennsylvania. The crisis is eventually resolved through negotiations, but over half of the mutineers abandon the army.

Battle Of Cowpens

Battle Of Cowpens

January 17, 1781 – In the Battle Of Cowpens, South Carolina, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeated Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his army of British regulars. 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.

Lighthorse Harry Lee

Lighthorse Harry Lee

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, which was 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.

Light Horse Harry Lee

Light Horse Harry Lee

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.

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold

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. American troops were commanded by French Marquis Lafayette.

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 British but were unable to 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 and 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 results 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 fight 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.

British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, Tanner, Vallance, Kearny and Co

British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, Tanner, Vallance, Kearny, and Company.

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 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.


Francis Marion by John Blake White

Francis Marion by John Blake White

February 14, 1782 – Marion’s Brigade defeated by Thomson at Wambaw Creek, South Carolina.

February 25, 1782 – Marion’s Brigade again defeated by Thomson 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 withdraw 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.

John Adams, by Asher B. Durand

John Adams, by Asher B. Durand.

April 19, 1782 – The Dutch recognize the United States of America as a result of 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 occurs 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 was ratified by Georgia.

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 – Charleston, South Carolina evacuated by British. 3,800 Loyalists and 5,000 slaves leave with them.

December 15, 1782 – Strong objections are expressed by the French 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.


Our heaven born banner painted by Wm. Bauly, 1861

Our heaven-born banner painted by William  Bauly, 1861

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 Weiser/Legends of America, updated March 2020.

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Also See:

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A Capsule History of the Revolutionary War

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