During the American Revolution, the idea of independence spread like wildfire The news of the fighting, which occurred in April of 1775, spread quickly across the New England countryside. Across the region, companies of militiamen, known as Minutemen, assembled and set off to Boston. Within a few days, more than 10,000 American Minutemen were encamped outside of Boston and determined to show the British Army that they meant business. Keep in mind that as of yet, there was no real authority in charge. The Continental Congress in Philadelphia was about the closest thing to a national government at the time, and even they hadn’t officially recognized the troops gathered in Boston as any kind of formal army.
Throughout the spring of 1775, American troops were incredibly successful. The New England militia was able to keep the main body of British troops at bay in Boston—British authorities there didn’t really know what to do and were waiting on orders from their superiors across the Atlantic. A small force of militia captured Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in May of 1775, and captured artillery pieces from the British. In June, the British tried to break out of the city of Boston and attacked the American force on Breed’s Hill. Now let me say emphatically that the Battle of Breed’s Hill (or as it became commonly known, the Battle of Bunker Hill) was a strategic failure for the Americans—they failed to hold their position and the British secured the area. But more important than military tactics at this point in the Revolution was the incredible showing by the American troops. It took three almost suicidal attempts by British troops—proud members of the most feared military force in the worl...
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...on’t get the idea that Dunmore wanted to end slavery—he was a slaveowner himself. But Dunmore did want Patriot slaveowners to get nervous. In that respect, Lord Dunmore’s proclamation succeeded. Historians estimate that about 50,000 slaves in Virginia and South Carolina ran from their owners, which disrupted the planting of crops and supply lines throughout the Revolutionary War.
So today I hope that you understand how many American colonists came to view independence as their only course of action by 1776, but just declaring independence didn’t necessarily make it so. There was a war to be fought—and frankly the British Army looked pretty unbeatable. [show overhead] How would these ragtag bunch of guys ever defeat the most powerful fighting force in the world? That’s a fascinating and interesting topic, so interesting that we’ll take it up next lecture.
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