American Revolutionary War timeline detailing the main causes and events of the conflict also known as the American War of Independence
The war ended with the British and their allies victorious.
The British government imposed a tax on all imports of sugar from the Colonies. The tax was not well received and colonists protested.
This was a secret group formed in the thirteen American colonies to co-ordinate protests against the British Government.
The British parliament passed this act which required an official stamp on all legal documents and the stamp had to be paid for. It would become effective in November 1765.
In the face of widespread and violent protests, the act was repealed.
This act, passed in conjunction with the repeal of the Stamp Act, stated that parliament had the right to pass laws in the Colonies.
In the face of widespread and violent protests, the act was repealed.
Named after Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, this series of Acts imposed taxation to raise money to pay for the salaries of governors and judges, introduced measures to enforce trade regulations and set a precedent for the British Parliament to directly tax the colonies. The Acts which taxed all imports from Britain were met with protests and rioting.
Tensions were high in Boston following the killing of Christopher Seider. A group of protesters gathered outside the Boston Custom House. Insults were shouted at Private White who was on guard duty. The crowd of protesters, led by former slave, Crispus Attucks, grew, and objects were thrown at Private White. White retaliated and struck a colonist with his bayonet. The army sent reinforcements led by Captain Preston which further annoyed the growing crowd who struck the soldiers with clubs and sticks. The situation became confused and one soldier thought he heard the command ‘fire’ and fired into the crowd. Other soldiers followed the lead and also fired into the crowd. Five people including Crispus Attucks were killed and six others were wounded. The crowd dispersed but anger against the British was growing.
The British ship HMS Gaspee was used by customs officials to prevent smuggling. Colonists in Rhode Island seized HMS Gaspee in protest against the British.
This act was introduced by the British to help the British East India Company by only allowing the colonies to import tea from the British East India Company. All colonies except Massachusetts refused to allow ships to dock. In Massachusetts the governor allowed the ships to dock in Boston.
The Sons of Liberty organised this protest against the import of British East India Company tea. Demonstrators boarded British ships and threw chests of tea into Boston Harbour.
This act of retaliation against the Boston Tea Party by the British government, set up a blockade of Boston Port refusing to allow ships to enter or leave the port until the East India Company was compensated for the lost tea.
This was a series of measures taken by the British government to punish Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party. The Acts included the withdrawing of the right to self-governance and the right of the British army to house troops in private property. The British hoped the harsh measures would prevent further rebellion in the other colonies but instead they increased resistance to the British.
This was the first meeting of delegates from the British colonies. They met at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The delegates discussed a response to the Intolerable Acts and decided to boycott British trade.
The First Continental Congress drafted a petition to be sent to King George III. It called for the repeal of the Intolerable Acts. The colonists did not receive a reply.
American Revolutionary War Timeline – Outbreak of War
Local militia had assembled in readiness for the British arrival. Shots were fired at Lexington and the militia were forced to withdraw to Concord. The British split into groups to search for the weapons. The British that were sent to Concord were outnumbered by 4:1 and forced to retreat to Boston. This battle generally marks the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.
This battle was fought in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The colonists suffered heavy casualties and were forced to retreat. The British took control of the Charlestown peninsula.
The Second Continental Congress approved this Petition to be sent to King George III. The Petition stated American loyalty to the Crown and called on the King to grant concessions and prevent war.
The Second Continental Congress agreed this resolution, written by Thomas Jefferson, which explained why the Colonies had felt the need to take up arms against the British.
King George III issued this statement after receiving news of the Battle of Bunker Hill. He declared that the American Colonies were in rebellion against the British and ordered the suppression of the rebellion.
Fighting broke out between Patriots (those that wanted freedom for America) and Loyalists (those who remained loyal to the British Crown) in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina and the Loyalists were forced to retreat.
This battle saw Loyalist forces defeated.
This battle, fought near Charleston, South Carolina, saw the Patriots successfully repel a British assault.
American Revolutionary War Timeline – Declaration of Independence
Largely written by Thomas Jefferson, this declaration proclaimed the independence of the Thirteen Colonies from Britain. It includes the infamous statement ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It was circulated to the troops and people of the Colonies.
Patriot forces led by Benedict Arnold were defeated by the British. However, the battle delayed the British advance.
William Howe managed to force Washington to retreat further.
The British managed to take control of Fort Washington in New York. Those Americans inside the fort that were not killed were taken prisoner on prison ships.
German troops from Brunswick, in support of the British, were defeated by the Americans.
British troops under William Howe defeated American troops led by George Washington. However, Howe failed to destroy Washington’s troops.
British troops led by John Burgoyne defeated an American force led by Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates at Freeman’s Farm. However, the British had lost 600 men and morale was low.
British forces under Charles Grey defeated an American force under Anthony Wayne. They decided to take no prisoners and massacred survivors of the battle.
Washington led a surprise attack on Howe but was repulsed.
After victory on 19th September, Burgoyne had dug his forces in and requested reinforcements. Reinforcements had not arrived and with supplies running low Burgoyne ordered an assault on the American army. Burgoyne’s force of around 5,000 men were repulsed by the Patriots and then pursued.
The American force led by Gates and Arnold had managed to surround the British.
The British had run out of supplies and Burgoyne surrendered.
The forces of Howe and Washington fought sporadically for three days. Howe then made the decision to retreat to Philadelphia.
In a bid to end the American Revolutionary War, the British government sent a deputation led by Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, to offer self-rule and parliamentary representation for the colonies. The Second Continental Congress declined the terms stating they would only agree to full independence which Carlisle had no authority to grant.
The British led by Clinton met the Americans led by Washington but were unable to make gains.
Continental troops under General John Sullivan decided to abandon the siege and withdrew north but were attacked by the British. The Americans left the island leaving it in British hands.
After failing to make significant gains in the north, the British had moved south in the hopes of finding more support from the southern states. They successfully took Savannah.
The Continental army took Stony point from the British.
The Continental army took Paulus Hook from the British after making a surprise night time raid.
American Revolutionary War Timeline – Later Stages
Charleston, which had been under siege by the British for six weeks, surrendered. This victory secured the British position in the south.
Continental troops led by Horatio Gates were defeated by British troops led by Charles Cornwallis.
This battle saw British troops defeated by the Patriots.
The British took Richmond, Virginia and burnt the city. Governor Thomas Jefferson managed to escape.
This battle between the forces of Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis saw the Americans defeated. However, Cornwallis had suffered large casualties which significantly weakened his force and he had to retreat to await reinforcements.
After an eight-day siege, Continental forces took control of the fort.
The British took control of Hobkirk’s Hill after defeating the Americans. However, two weeks later the British retreated.
After a four-day siege, Continental forces took control of the fort.
After two week siege, Augusta fell to the Patriots. This victory effectively secured the south for the Americans.
The British navy were decisively beaten by the French in Chesapeake Bay. The defeat cut off British supply routes to the British at Yorktown.
American and French forces placed Cornwallis under siege at Yorktown.
The British had received no reinforcements and an attempt to break out of Yorktown across the river had failed. Cornwallis decided that he had no choice but to surrender.
Terms for a peace between America and Britain were agreed with Britain agreeing independence for the colonies.
This treaty, which formally ended the American Revolutionary War, was signed by representatives of King George III and the United States.
First published 2020; updated and re-published Jul 6 2022 @ 12:14 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for American Revolutionary War Timeline:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2020 – 2022). American Revolutionary War Timeline 1763-1784. https://www.thetimelinegeek.com/american-revolutionary-war Last accessed [date]