The eight-year war that symbolized America's hard-fought freedom against British colonial rule is often one of the first moments a child remembers from their history textbook. It was a war so well-ingrained in the history of the United States that countless movies and novels have been written about its fierce battles, unrestrained military efforts, and clever - yet occasionally bemusing - tactics.
Independence Was Not What Was Originally Sought, And George III Was Not Out For Tyranny
Hollywood reflects a very different version of the Revolutionary War than what actually occurred. In reality, the colonies did not want complete and total separation from the British Empire - at least not at first. Rather, the colonies wished to be respected autonomously, with their own governance and certain freedoms but still under the protection of the British Empire.
This desire was so well-agreed-upon by the colonies that the Continental Congress, which was at the forefront of the resistance by soon-to-be America, petitioned King George III for said rights. It was at this moment when the war became a stark reality and the British Empire denied the appeal from the colonies and, with it, came the treatment for treason that's seen in depicted in many movies and works of literature between both countries. This is what led to the colonies' fight for freedom rather than an initial outrage over not having immediate independence.
Alternatively, King George III was not a tyrant who sought to control and impose authoritarian rule on the colonies. Rather, it was his decision to stand with parliament which led him to side with the government, thus automatically pitting him against the colonies. It was this moment in time that's often misunderstood as many interpreted it as King George III siding with himself, ie parliament, in order to gain more power.
The British Were Not The Enemy To Everyone, And They Nearly Won The War
Obviously, it's America's victory that makes the Revolutionary War such an intriguing underdog lesson... But that also discounts all the moments when the British almost had the win, themselves. In 1776, the same year the Declaration of Independence (which doesn't actually have the word 'independence' in it) was signed, the British army nearly had a truly victorious moment. After America's defeat at the battle of Long Island, the British fully occupied New York City and were able to force American troops south to the Delaware River. This would have been the end had George Washington staged a counter-attack following Christmas. It's said by some historians that while the British assumed the Continental army would not come back from such a loss, that General Howe, commander of the British army at the time, refused to give in to the Continental army's exposed weaknesses by throwing salt in an already presumed open wound.
A detail often forgotten by history is the fact that for the enslaved people of America, the British Empire was synonymous with freedom. It was promised by Lord Dunmore, Virginia's royal governor, in 1775 that those enslaved would be freed once the war was over should the British Empire come out victorious. This was the cause for many slaves joining the frontlines on the side of the British Empire and while it wasn't a winning battle, some did see the freedom they were promised. It's believed that this gesture is also what spurred the rebellion for freedom during the Civil War.
Despite The Its Battleground, The War Was A Global Effort
The French played an enormous role in the Revolutionary War as they sought to exploit the weakness of Britain. Less than a year after battles began, the French joined the Americans and offered money as well as arms and ammunition, a generous deed that would continue through until the war was over.
Additionally, the Spanish and the Dutch forces also played a role in the war between the years 1779 and 1780, thus expanding the region that was controlled and protected by the Continental army and far outmatching the Royal Navy.
The Daughters Of Liberty Had Their Own Version Of Tar And Feathers
The colonists, known as the Patriots, had a common practice of tarring and feathering any loyalists who were captured. While the practice might seem harmless, albeit extraordinarily uncomfortable, it also posed health risks and led to a rather unsightly cleanup attempt. As opposed to doing this for women, the Daughters of Liberty, who were on the side of the Patriots, opted for molasses and flowers instead. Not only was it less painful but it also smelled far better.
A Woman Fought On The Frontlines Under The Cover Of Being Her Brother
Deborah Sampson was her name and at only 21-years-old, she joined the war under the identity of her brother, Robert Shurtlieff Sampson, who was deceased.
She was able to serve in the Continental Army on the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment for over one year before her true identity was revealed while being tended to for a wound sustained during battle. While she was released from her military obligation, she was discharged honorably for her time, effort, and loyalty.
Pirates And Invisible Ink Aren't Just Movie Plots
It's no secret that the Continental army was hard-pressed for manpower as well as extravagant vessels for a navy as the British had. In response to this problem, they hired privateers, who were pirates, to stage attacks on British ships. Another intriguing aspect of the Revolutionary War, specifically, was the use of spies. This war more than any other made the act of spying such an interesting topic as invisible ink was used to send messages between leaders. This was a tactic used for both the Americans and the British, which is what made the whole thing so fascinating.