Welcome to even more of the American Revolution, the topic that keeps on giving, unfortunately. Here we are in part supteen or whatever it is. I’m sincerely hoping this will be the last post on this subject.
Before we begin the end, you might want to refresh your historical knowledge by reading the previous parts or you could just sissy out read the recap below:
History Lessons With Goldfish: American Revolution Part 1
History Lessons With Goldfish: American Revolution Part 2
History Lessons With Goldfish: American Revolution Part 3
History Lessons With Goldfish: American Revolution Part 4
In response to the Boston Tea Party (ain’t no party like a tea party) and other uppity colonial revolutionary activities, the British powers that be passed the Coercive Acts. Pro tip for powers that be: “Coercive” is not a good name for an act.
Patrick Henry, George Washington, Sam Adams, John Hancock and 52 other old white dead dudes met in the first Continental Congress where they decided to scofflaw the Coercive Acts, and stop sending and receiving things to and from England.
In 1775, The British government officially declared Massachusetts to be rebels and gave a secret order to enforce the Coercive Acts, suppress open rebellion by all necessary force and attack the rebel weapons armory in Concord, Massachusetts. And, here comes the REVOLUTION!
History Lessons With Goldfish: The American Revolution
So, here we are in April 1775. Massachusetts Governor and Royal Stooge General Gage secretly ordered 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists’ weapons depot.
That same night, hip to the secret plans, Paul Revere warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringin’ those bells and makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free.
Oh, sorry. That’s Sarah Palin’s version of what happened. It’s factually inaccurate like everything else that flops out of her mouth.
What really happened was that Paul Revere and William Dawes rode from Boston to Lexington to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock who were hiding out there.
Pro tip: typically, when hiding out, because you are in the process of committing high treason against the most powerful government in Europe, you would want anyone who comes to visit–like, say, Paul Revere–to keep it on the down low. You would not want visitors to fire “warning shots” and “ring bells,” because that type of behavior is going to end your revolutionary career right quick.
Yet another example of how history gets warped over time by dolts like Sarah Palin.
Anyway, Revere and Dawes were successful in their mission to warn colonial rebel management that the British intended to destroy their weapons depot.
At dawn, 70 armed Massachusetts militiamen faced 700 British troops when an errant shot–”the shot heard ’round the world”–kicked things off. The Brits opened fire, and then charged with bayonets just for panache and overkill. This left 8 dead and 10 wounded militiamen, which honestly, seems like a pretty poor return on investment when you outnumber the enemy 10 to 1.
The Brits destroyed the weapons depot, but the militiamen were not done yet. At a nearby bridge, they attacked a British platoon causing 14 casualties. Take that!
British forces, having destroyed what they went to destroy, retreated back to Lexington. On the way, they were continually sniped at by militiamen, farmers and regular Americans. 250 of them were out of commission by the time they got back.
Even without the internet, news spread fast, so that four days later, there were 13,600 American soldiers marching towards British-held Boston. Hells yes.
In May, Ethan Allen, The Green Mountain Boys, and Benedict Arnold seized Fort Ticonderoga in New York and plundered all the booty there, which they sent off to Boston. The same day, John Hancock was elected President at the second meeting of the Continental Congress.
In June, George Washington was named General and Commander In Chief of the new Continental Army just in time for the first major battle, The Battle Of Bunker Hill, where “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” may have been said.
I’ve been there. It’s not much of a hill. More of a mound actually.
This battle is when marching in a straight line towards entrenched firearms while wearing bright red coats with a white X target on the front is generally proved to be exceptionally bad tactical warfare, and on the whole, a half-baked idea, but they kept doing it anyway.
The Americans had the hill. The Brits marched straight for it three times, getting completely mowed down in the process. They finally succeeded on the third try only because the Americans ran out of ammunition. Out of 2000 British soldiers, fully half of them were dead or wounded.
In July of 1775, Congress tried to send an olive branch to King George III, literally called the Olive Branch Petition. The king refused to even look at it.
In response, the Continental Congress drafted a resolution that essentially said, “Up yours, George! Bring it!” which actually said that they “resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves.” (In other words, screw you, George. Bring it!)
George continued to brand the Americans as rebels, which they, in fact, were. By royal proclamation, he declared the colonies closed for business and off with the head of anyone who traded with them. In April, Americans said, “Back atcha”–they’d trade with anyone but the British.
Meanwhile, the war marched on. In March of 1776, American forces took Dorchester Heights, my old neighborhood. They pointed British artillery, pilfered from Fort Ticonderoga, at Boston Harbor. Nothing like getting shot with your own damn artillery.
The Continental Congress contacted other countries for help. France told the Americans on the sly that maybe they might want to get in on this “Up yours, George” business. In May of 1776, King Louis XVI of France committed a million dollars (an assload by today’s standards) in arms and munitions. Seeing what France was up to, Spain said, “We can get down with that.”
In June and July of 1776, a gigantic British fleet sailed into Boston Harbor; 30 battleships with 1200 cannons, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships led by the Right Honorable William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC. Ruh roh!
At the urging of Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in one day. With a few changes, the Continental Congress signed that bitch on July 4th (even though they didn’t actually sign it until August 2nd). Booyah! In your face, George!
On the 11th, two British ships sailed up the Hudson river indiscriminately shooting at whatever. Blam Blam Blam! After this ineffectual and asinine display of power, the British declared that, should the Americans choose to meet, they’d listen to a plea for peace. George Washington listened to their ridiculous offer of “we won’t kill you at all if you surrender, not even a little bit.” [snicker] George replied, “Nah, I think we’ll take war instead. Thanks.”
And war was had in August when Howe and 15,000 soldiers attacked Washington’s army in the Battle of Long Island. Outnumbered two to one and outflanked, the Americans said, “Oh shit!” and scattered. That night, they crossed the East River out of Manhattan and into Harlem. Washington decided that large scale battles were maybe not the way to go about things.
Howe met with American representatives again, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, in September. He said he would accept their defeat if they tore up the Declaration of Independence. They told him to get bent.
Meanwhile, after retreating through most of New York City, Washington managed to stop a British attack in Harlem, but a few days later, most of NYC was set on fire, destroying over 300 buildings. 300 may not sound like a lot now, but back then, it was almost all of NYC.
The next month, our fledgling American Navy realized that it was fairly easy to destroy after all. In only seven hours, the British fleet blew up 83 gunships on Lake Champlain. The remainder were crushed two days later.
Back on land, the Continental Army got their butts whipped in the Battle of White Plains, and they lost Fort Washington in Manhattan and Fort Lee in New Jersey. 3000 American soldiers were lost in the battles for those two forts alone. Washington kept retreating west across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The British General Cornwallis was in hot pursuit.
In December, the Brits crushed what was left of the American Navy when they captured the Naval base in Rhode Island. Realizing that this war wasn’t going too well, the Continental Congress abandoned Philadelphia in favor of Baltimore, which was the last time anyone made that decision, even without the threat of artillery.
On Christmas, Washington said, “Screw this running business,” and took 2400 troops across the Delaware River. You may remember it from such historically inaccurate paintings as this:
They surprised the 1500 British-Hessian German mercenary forces stationed across the river at Trenton, New Jersey who surrendered within an hour. This allowed Washington, for the first time, to retake ground he ran screaming and flailing arms through on his months-long retreat. VICTORY!
And, we’re at over 1500 words, so we’ll have to continue our lesson later. At least I didn’t disappoint and gave you firearms in this one! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the American Revolution.
In addition to those already linked above, information was severely paraphrased from the following sources: