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The Revolutionary War: How They Matched Up Lea Gamble AP American Studies Period 1/2 11/5/12


Over the previous one hundred years prior to the Revolutionary War, the British dominated superior countries such as Spain and France. The Patriots had no military experience, or any real advantages over this powerful force. Against this brutal supremacy, the Colonists were at a terrible disadvantage. Against all odds, the Americans won the war, and the reasons behind the triumph were simple endurance, patience, and strategy, despite all the difficulty the British Army caused through those eight long years. The British Army had the clear advantage in most points. It had the most funding; the soldiers were well fed, equipped, paid, and trained. At the time, the British Navy had control of the seas (left picture portrays British and French naval battle). Funds were so much easier to come by in the British Empire; some of these funds went to hiring Hessians to fight for them in the colonies. The financial advantage over the Patriots was a big contributor to the war, but still did not seem to be enough (“US History”). The colonists, in contrast to the British, had barely any financial resources. The Americans barely had any money for basic supplies; many of the soldiers went without clothing, and they had to brave the cold winters with hardly any food. It did not aid the cause that half of the colonist population didn’t want the conflict at all, let alone the one in five of the population that would have stayed loyal to the Crown. These individuals were Loyalists, and played a bigger part than imagined; their numbers were expected to be larger than in reality, and this was a fault of the British Army (“US History”).


The strategies of the British military were a very important piece of the war, and influenced the outcome greatly. The campaign was focused around a Loyalist force that did not yet exist in the colonies. The Campaign of the South was the main focus of the British Army, letting much of its strength depend on the Loyalist population, which had been suppressed after the failed expedition of 1776. By 1780, the Loyalists were few in the South, which made the campaign all the harder. The next objective of the Southern Campaign was to take control of South Carolina; it was the center-most in geographical position and economically, as well as politically. The idea of taking over this area was that North Carolina and Virginia would soon submit after, since they were each economically tied to South Carolina. South Carolina was also a place of interest because of the belief that the general population was loyal only because of the intimidation of the South Carolina Whigs. The attitude that the majority of the Southern population was suppressed Loyalists, but needed the British Army to make them feel more at ease at aiding the cause, was an outlook that hurt them critically, and also gave the Patriots a chance (Woodward). The Americans had various switches in strategies throughout the Revolutionary War. The strategy in the South was severely disorderly, not that it caused enough to hinder them completely. The near entirety depended on the army of the North, causing the focus of supporting the South to be a minority (Brown). The economic struggles played a bulky role in this, as they could not spare very many supplies and men to the South (“US History�). On the American side of the Campaign of the South, it was separated into five phases. The three initial periods were mainly made of procedures under Generals Lincoln, Gates (shown top right of next page), and Greene. Each


segment was separated by the lack of organized opposition after losing Charlestowne and Camden. The only type of resistance in the South was made up of militia and the unbalanced groups of men. These small bands followed their own agendas in the South, not always focused on aiding the entirety of the cause. Most of the strategies that Lincoln and Gates followed did not follow Washington’s strategies very well. When it was clear that the British were attempting to divert the Continental Army’s attention to the South, it was decided that the Carolina’s and Virginia should remain a focus for them to protect. As time passed, the South army grew smaller and smaller, and relied heavily on militia (Woodward). The few groups in the South had the advantage of knowing the lay of the land, using that to take out some of the British soldiers with ‘hit and run’ tactics; smaller groups had more mobility than the large armies. The picture to the left was exemplifying the British attempt of an attack from a point of disadvantage. That only helped drag out the war as much as they could, and dragging out the war was one of the reasons the British decided this war wasn’t worth much then (Brown). The British Army had what seemed to be the clear advantage, but did not prevail in the Revolutionary War and had been outwitted by the Colonists through strategy,


endurance, and patience. Strategy played a large role in the outcome of the struggle, despite the Patriots’ mixed-up plans in the South. The British tactics were poorly based on non-existent forces extremely heavily. The Colonists pulled through in the end with simple strategies, despite the shortage of supplies and militia. One hundred years of dominating superior countries was not enough to win a war against America, whom had little resources and only the home advantage.


Works Cited "American and British Strengths and Weaknesses." U.S. History. Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, n.d. Web. 16 Oct 2012. <http://www.ushistory.org/us/11a.asp>. British army attacking at a disadvantage position. N.d. Warchat.orgWeb. 3 Nov 2012. <warchat.org>. Brown, Lynn. "American Revolution." Huntington North High School, Huntington. 1 Nov. 2012. Lecture. French (left) and British (right) ships of the line at the Battle of the Virginia Capes. N.d. WikipediaWeb. 3 Nov 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BattleOfVirginiaCapes.jpg>. Horatio Gates. N.d. The History Blog. Web. 3 Nov 2012. <thehistoryblog.com>. Woodward, Joel. A Comparitave Evaluation of British and American Strategy in the Southern Campaign of 1780-1781. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct 2012. <http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA407971>.


The Revolutionary War: How They Matched Up