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So what made American victory possible in the
Revolutionary War?
In 1778, the British army consisted of nearly 50,000 well-trained
and supplied troops combined with over 30,000 German
mercenaries (Hessians). George Washington never had more
than 20,000 troops under his command at any one time. Most of
these American soldiers were young (ranging in age from their
early teens to their mid-20s), unskilled, and poor. Others were
indentured servants and slaves who were serving as substitutes
for their masters and had been promised freedom at the war's
end. Many of these troops had little training, few supplies, no
uniforms to keep them warm, and were one the verge of
starving. So just how did the Americans win the Revolutionary
War to gain independence?
For one thing, conquering the colonies was an almost impossible
task. Geographically, the enormous size of the colonies made it
impossible for British forces to take over the entire area. Because
of the size of the colonies, the British found it difficult to protect
Loyalists from the patriots, who sometimes tarred and feathered
and even murdered those who remained loyal to the King.
Another major British mistake was failing to take advantage of
Loyalists. Before the Revolutionary war began, some 50,000
Loyalists formed nearly 70 militias to help the British keep
control the colonies. But British leaders did not trust the loyalists
or respect their fighting ability.
In addition, the guerrilla tactics that Americans had learned
during Indian wars proved very effective in fighting the British
army. Militias struck quickly, often from behind trees or fences,
then disappeared into the forests. Because many Americans wore
ordinary clothing, it was difficult for the British to distinguish
rebels and loyalists.
George Washington used a strategy of avoiding large battles with
the royal army, which made it impossible for the British to deliver
a knock-out blow.
Additionally, the help the U.S. received from France, Spain, and
the Netherlands in the conflict made a big difference in the
outcome. It is quite unlikely that the United States could have
won its independence without the extra money, men and naval
forces these countries provided.
Perhaps the single most important reason for the patriot victory
was the support for the Revolution by the common man. The
revolution would have failed miserably without the help of the
thousands of uneducated farmers, immigrants, and freed slaves
who fought in the Continental Army.
Finally, in the years before the war, thousands of ordinary
Americans began to participate in politics – in boycotts, in antitax collector mobs, and in committees of correspondence. Many
men joined groups like the Sons of Liberty to protest British
taxes. Many women took the lead in boycotts of British goods.
During the Revolution itself, some 400,000 Americans, including
at least 5,000 African Americans, served in the fighting for at
least some time.
Despite being terribly outnumbered, suffering a lack of money,
training, and having virtually no navy, the patriots were able to
hold off one of the toughest armies in the world at the time. The
American Revolution truly is one of the greatest upsets in history.
Name _____________________
Block ______
1) Which of the following was NOT a problem for George Washington’s
Continental Army at the outset of the war?
A) The Continental Army was badly outnumbered
B) The Continental Army received no support from the citizens
C) The Continental Army was untrained
D) The Continental Army was suffering from a lack of supplies
2) According to the article, the United States would never have won the war if
it weren’t for
A) The help of the French, Spanish and Dutch
B) The Hessians assisting them
C) The use of European (rows) fighting style
D) The support of Loyalists
3) Which of the following was NOT a factor in the United States winning the
American Revolution?
A) The size of the colonies
B) Use of guerrilla fighting tactics
C) Support of the military by common citizens
D) The assistance of the Hessians
According to the article, there were several factors that led to the United States
victory over Britain in the Revolutionary War. Describe one factor the U.S. that
helped the to win the war, and explain how this factor helped achieve success.
Use details from the article to support your answer.