The Americans vs the British: an Unlikely Victory
An Unlikely Victory
The biblical story of David and Goliath is an excellent example of how an underdog can defeat a giant. In this tale, the Philistine giant named Goliath challenged the Israelites to fight him. Although the majority of Israelites were afraid of the the enormous Philistine, David volunteered to fight. The likelihood of David winning the battle against Goliath was slim, however against the odds, David defeated his foe. In the same way, the Revolutionary War saw the colonists face their own seemingly impossible struggle; the Americans akin to David against the British Goliath. In his fight, David had the disadvantage of his small size, however he was able to make up for this with his agility. Similarly, the Americans had disadvantages: Lack of supplies, soldiers, and training as well as the problematic loyalists. However, they overcame this with their own advantages: Favorable use of the terrain, stellar leaders, and powerful allies.
The American colonists were able to defeat the well disciplined British with the leadership of many famous generals, most notably George Washington. His greatest exploits included the Battles of Trenton and Yorktown. At Trenton, Washington navigated his troops across the Delaware River despite the inclement weather; this allowed them to bring an element of surprise that led them to victory against the Hessians. During the Battle of Yorktown, Washington’s command of his army and a French fleet allowed the troops to surround the British and prevent them from escaping. In addition to Washington, America had other capable leaders that helped the country gain independence such as Horatio Gates and Henry Knox. Horatio Gates is famous for his victory in Saratoga where he forced the British general Burgoyne to surrender after defeating his troops twice. Knox commanded the American artillery and was responsible for forcing the British out of Boston under threat of bombardment. The above generals were a crucial part of America’s battle to win freedom.
Utilizing terrain of the battlefield was a key advantage in the revolutionary war for the colonists. The American colonists had a good understanding of the land allowing them to quickly locate shortcuts and where to hide. The colonists also chose strategic locations for the battles to take place such as Bunker Hill. The Americans made best use of their knowledge of the terrain through guerilla warfare. At Lexington and Concord, through the use of this tactic, a small American militia was able to fight off the larger British army. The use of guerilla warfare was especially crucial to wearing down Cornwallis’s forces prior to their confrontation with the main continental army at Yorktown.
The American colonists did not gain independence by themselves. France, Britain’s historical enemy, contributed to America’s victory providing arms, ammunitions, supplies and uniforms. French troops and ships were also sent to America to support the Continental Army. The Yorktown Campaign could not have been won without the French contribution; under the command of Rochambeau, French forces landed in Rhode Island in which they fortified before combining with Washington’s army. Later that year, the Franco-American army traveled 700 miles to surround the British army at Yorktown while the French navy blocked the British from desperately needed supplies. Spain was another important ally for America, albeit on a smaller scale. Spain gave the colonists loans and started a military campaign located in Florida and Louisiana against the British. Despite Great Britain’s attempts to keep their control over the American colonies, the colonists partnership with their allies allowed them to gain freedom.
Although America had many advantages, the colonial troops faced many hardships. America wasn’t able to fully supply its troops due to the lack of money available. There were few factories in the colonies at the time, making it difficult to produce weapons, ships, and ammunition. The patriot cause was so underfunded that the continental soldiers often times had to purchase their uniforms themselves. While the Americans certainly had the willingness to fight, they were often short on the tools needed.
Not everyone believed in the Patriot’s cause; the Loyalists were another disadvantage the Americans had to deal with. Approximately 1/3 of colonists were Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Loyalists, faithful to the British Monarchy, gave little assistance to the rebel cause. On the contrary, the Loyalists formed groups to fight against the Patriots such as the Royal American Regiment. They also acted as spies and gave the British soldiers shelter during the war. Even though the Patriots did not have full support, those who did believe in the cause were able to overcome this obstacle.
As mentioned earlier, America was an underdog. Their army in relation to Great Britain’s was not nearly as experienced or as big. The soldiers enrolled in the army had little training or discipline; they were volunteer farmers and craftsmen who could not compare to the trained British soldiers. They were also small in numbers; after November 1779 there were never more than 26,000 men serving in battle. On the other hand, Great Britain’s army was very powerful with a total of 56,000 soldiers . In addition, America didn’t organize a naval force until months after the revolution began, while on the other hand, Great Britain had the largest navy in the world at the time.
Before the war began, it would of been crazy to think the American colonies could be triumphant against Great Britain. America was weakened by many disadvantages such as a lack of supplies and number of soldiers. The group of Loyalists settled in America harmed the country’s support too. However, America’s leadership, clever use of terrain and guerilla warfare, and allies all propelled them to an unthinkable victory. Regardless of the hardships, the Continental Army were able to defeat the British and attain independence.
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