When war broke out in 1775, it seemed inevitable that the Patriots (the Colonies) would lose. The British, with a population of 11 million, had a large, well-organized land army of 48,000 men, and their Royal Navy, being the most powerful navy in the world at the time, was unmatched on the sea. Many of the British troops were experienced, having fought in the French and Indian War, while the Colonists, with a population of 2.5 million (20% of whom were slaves), had only a small number of inexperienced soldiers. The newly-formed Continental Navy was small, and could not compete with the British Navy. Britain was also at an economic advantage since they could rely on profits from the South Atlantic system as well as the industrial revolution. So, at the beginning of the war, victory seemed distant for the Colonies- but this changed as the situation turned in their favour.
The Patriots were able to win their independence back from the British for a number of reasons. For example, the Colonies were at an advantage since it consisted of 13 colonies, meaning that there was no stronghold or “headquarters” that the British could strike at to defeat them.
Additionally, the Colonists made use of various tactics and strategies that served to contribute greatly to win the Revolutionary War. For example, Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”), who led the Marion Brigade (a brigade of 150 Colonists), unbothered by the lack of men and weapons, made use of Guerilla warfare tactics (stealthy hit-and-run attacks) and instead took advantage of swamps and cunning to wage battle against the British, overcoming great odds and triumphing over them on many occasions, such as in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. On one occasion, Marion and his men even managed to cripple almost the entire British fleet even when lacking ammunition, achieving the first important victory of the American Revolution.
In the Naval War, the Patriots attacked the British bases and supply ships located in the Bahamas, rather than attacking the main forces of the British Navy. This caused the British navy to suffer greatly, and their attack efforts were hampered and thus delayed, allowing the Patriots more time to gain a larger advantage over the British forces.
During the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, Britain were the first to take control of Fort Stanwix, along with Indian forces that they were allied with. The Patriots sent Hon Yost Schuyler, a Tory with Patriot roots, who drove the Indians to desert the fort after spreading a superstition- which consequently caused the British to also retreat from the fort, and abandon their siege.
These wins were marked out as great victories for the Colonists, who, despite their small number and limited power, managed to drive away or overcome the powerful, much-larger British power, thus boosting the confidence of the Patriots, and encouraging France to pledge support to America following their victory in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.
Unhappy with its numerous defeats by Britain, France recognized the Patriots’ independence, and supported the American colonies by sending them supplies, money (roughly $20 million in aid), weapons, and soldiers.
The Franco-American Alliance, which was formed in 1778, benefited the Patriots greatly. The Colonist soldiers were inexperienced, and their navy did not have enough ships to defend themselves against the British, who had a powerful navy. Only with the support of a number of the French fleet were the Colonists able to defend themselves against the British forces, engaging them on many occasions- first in the English Channel, then on the Atlantic, off the coast of the Colonies. Because of the much-increased advantage the Patriots enjoyed, France’s alliance encouraged the support of Spain, who pledged support to the Patriots one year later in 1779. Spain supplied the Americans with weapons and supplies, and served to be a huge advantage, as Britain was forced to divert troops to battle the Spanish as well as the Americans. Additionally, the Netherlands also formed an alliance with America against Britain in 1780.
The main reason for the Patriots’ triumph over British power, however, was the fact that the Colonist troops were fighting for themselves.
Colonist conscription was voluntary, unlike the British troops who were forced into joining the war. While the British were fighting away from home in a war that they had nothing to gain from, the Patriots were defending their own families and homes on their own ground. Additionally, despite most of the American troops not having any prior experience taking part in wars, the army units were usually made up of closely-knitted men that fought side-by-side to defend their homes. Unit officers were elected by their own soldiers, and morale was very high in the American army, while it was lacking in the British force.
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Although the war continued for a number of years, the fight for America’s independence was backed with strong, unwavering support, especially after France and Spain pledged their support to them. The backing strength behind the rebellion remained strong at all levels of America’s society, and they were able to hold off the British forces long enough for the British to give up.
In conclusion, while the support of its allied nations definitely aided the Patriots, if they did not have the support of the other Americans, the rebellion most certainly would have failed, rather than bringing the War of Independence to an end.
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