For all who love history - and not just history - but the history of how our great country began - this site is for you! Brave men and women took a stand over 230 years ago against tyranny and won! A nation of immigrants began its trek to becoming the greatest nation in the world.
Who were the major players in the American Revolution?
We usually devote a significant amount of time
on the Founding Fathers – men of ideals who met and wrote down what would
become the document our country would follow.
We do not usually spend much time on the men who fought the battles. Yes,
we all know about George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief, but we know little
about the other generals and men who led the ragtag group of colonists into
battle against the best trained army in the world – the British.
Let’s outline the major players and then we will work on
digging deeper into their backgrounds so we know more about these men.
George Washington – Commander-in-Chief
Benedict Arnold – until he turned traitor and joined the
Henry Knox (does this name sound familiar – Fort Knox)
Friedrich von Steuben
Marquis de Lafayette
The list goes on, but these are the ones we have heard about
the most, or who were the major players in the most significant battles.
1763-1775 – Thomas Gage
1776-1777 – William Howe
1778-1782 – Sir Henry Clinton
Their list of generals is also long, but we shall just focus on a few.
Let’s look at our Commander-in-Chief – George Washington and
the first British Commander-in-Chief – Thomas Gage.
George Washington – was born into a planter’s family and
started his career as a surveyor. When
he joined the military, he was sent to fight against the French and Indians
during that war. It was here that he met
The two men fought side-by-side
and even developed a friendship that over the years cooled as they grew
apart. He became a member of the
Continental Congress representing Virginia with men like Patrick Henry and Thomas
Because of his skills as a
soldier, he was asked to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental
Army. While his troops suffered losses
against the British in Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, they
always fought well. After a horrible winter at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania,
they fought back strongly and began to win more battles.
Many believe the most significant battle came
in December of 1776 when the British had beaten the patriots at For
Washington. It seemed the patriots were
about finished. The British commander
sent his men to Trenton for their winter quarters. Washington decided to take his men across the
Delaware to attack the British on Christmas day. The British were protected by the German
Hessians, but the patriots were able to take almost 1000 prisoners and killed 100
Hessians. Only 4 patriots were killed or
wounded that day. From there, the men were invigorated and prepared to win even
Finally, his troops defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.
Because we have covered George Washington before, if you
wish to read more, just click here.
Thomas Gage –was born in 1720 into an aristocratic English
family. Unfortunately, as a second son,
he could not inherit the title and he joined the British army in 1736 when he
was only 16 years old.
In 1741, he purchased a lieutenant’s commission (a popular
action on the part of a wealthy family, to make sure their sons became
In 1743, he became a captain and participated in the War of
In 1746, he fought at the Battle of Culloden.
In 1748, he purchased a major’s commission.
In 1751, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
In 1755, he was sent to the Americas to fight in the French
and Indian War. This is where he met
George Washington, fighting beside him.
In 1759, he became a full general and helped create the
light infantry – a force he felt was better for fighting in the American
In 1761, he became a major general.
In 1763, he was named the Commander-in-Chief of North
America by King George.
When tensions started to escalate in the colonies, he moved
many of his troops to the major cities of New York and Boston. This caused a problem for where the troops
would live. The Quartering Act solved
that problem for him, forcing the colonists to house the troops in their homes,
inns, taverns, and other buildings against their will. He felt that occupying Boston was a
mistake. He felt the true causes of the
rebellion were a few discontented wealthy men, not the rest of the
Unfortunately, he moved the
29th Regiment of Foot into Boston.
This regiment had a reputation for bad behavior. By the time he realized it was not a few
malcontents, but a major discontent among all the colonists, it was too late.
He was appointed military Royal Governor of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the people despised him. Instead of relieving the problems of the
previous governor, he enforced the Coercive Acts, called Intolerable by the
colonists. He even made the mistake of
trying to buy off a few of the major political leaders of Boston. This backfired on him. When he tried to seize the weapons in Boston,
his actions resulted in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
He sent word to the king about the defeat at
Bunker Hill. Within three days of
receiving the message, King George relieved him of his commission and ordered
him to return to England. He was
replaced by General Howe.
Just as the American Revolution was truly heating up, he was
replaced. In 1776, General Howe reached
the shores of North America to find a powder keg of a situation.
Stay tuned to learn about General Howe in my next post. Until then, Happy Memorial Day! Huzzah!
Huzzah! Huzzah! To all our troops
who have served and continue to serve this great nation! Thank you for your sacrifice.