Studying American Revolutionary War Battles is one of my favorite topics to research in the Revolutionary War. Each battle has its own story, failures, heroes, and villains and pushes the dialogue of the American Revolution forward. This is a complete list of Revolutionary War Battles.
There were many battles in the Revolutionary War, but to understand each battle and its significance, it is important to look behind the stats and into the thoughts of the commanders. What were they trying to accomplish, and why did they choose that ground to fight? What mistakes did they make? What did they accomplish? These are all questions that help the casual historian understand why certain battles were fought. I will show you the significance of this in the next paragraph.
The most controversial battle in the American Revolutionary War was the Battle of Brandywine. This battle was one of William Howe’s finest moments as a tactician and one of his most scrutinized. Burgoyne’s failure and defeat at Saratoga are often tossed at the feet of Howe since he decided, with permission from England, to attack Philadelphia and not aid Burgoyne. When a casual historian views the events, they shrug Howe off and question his decision, but when one delves deeper into what was going on, one sees a different story.
William Howe and Richard Howe had put into place a strategy that would conquer each colony and began a process of reconciliation with England. When New York was conquered, much effort was used to drive the remaining rebels out of the colony and install a royal governor. The Howes were essentially implementing the same strategy they had used in New York in Pennsylvania. Without understanding Howe’s perspective, the attack on Brandywine and the capture of Philadelphia does not make sense when one blends the defeat at Saratoga with it. Interpret each battle on its own and not compare them to each other because each battle has its own perspective.
Below is a complete list of Revolutionary War battles in chronological order. Each has their own story and perspective.
List of Revolutionary War Battles
Powder Alarm – September 1, 1774 – The Powder Alarm was a minor conflict that really wasn’t a conflict at all. Nobody was killed, and there were no shots fired. However, it was the first time that the British saw how sophisticated the militia system was and how quickly they were able to mobilize. The alarm led to the creation of an élite group known as the Minutemen.
Battles of Lexington and Concord – April 19, 1775 – The first official battle of the American Revolutionary War. The British planned a surprise march into Concord to capture large stores of ammunition, but the provincials caught wind of it and mobilized quickly. The result was a skirmish at Lexington an all-out brawl in Concord, and the British retreat back to Boston.
Siege of Boston – April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776 – The siege of Boston took place after Lexington and Concord. During this time, George Washington took command of the Continental Army in Boston. The siege ended when Washington placed Artillery guns on top of Dorchester Heights.
Gunpowder Incident – April 20, 1775 – A small incident that took place in Maryland. It destroyed any positive reputation that Lord Dunmore had left.
Capture of Fort Ticonderoga – May 10, 1775 – Fort Ticonderoga was captured by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. The capture played a role in the siege of Boston.
Battle of Chelsea Creek – May 27–28, 1775 – A skirmish on the islands in Boston that caused the British more problems. The provincials led to raids on British farms and made it more difficult for England to supply its army.
Battle of Machias – June 11–12, 1775 – A small naval battle off the coast of Maine in which the Americans won.
Battle of Bunker Hill – June 17, 1775 – A costly victory for the British and the new General William Howe. The British moved the provincials off the hill but lost over 1,000 men. British Major John Pitcairn and American Militia Commander Joseph Warren died in the battle.
Siege of Fort St. John – September 17 – November 3, 1775 (also called St. Jean’s) – The first major action in the Canadian Campaign. This siege was an American victory that allowed them to continue further into Canada.
Battle of Montreal (A.K.A the Battle of Longue-Pointe) – An American defeat from poor planning and over-ambitious plan of Colonel Ethan Allen. The defeat led to his capture.
Snow Campaign – December 23, 1775 – was one of the first major military operations of the American Revolutionary War in the southern colonies. An army of up to 3,000 Patriot militia under Colonel Richard Richardson marched against Loyalist recruiting centers in South Carolina, flushing them out and frustrating attempts by the Loyalists to organize.
Battle of Great Bridge – was fought December 9, 1775, in the area of Great Bridge, Virginia, early in the American Revolutionary War. The victory by colonial Virginia militia forces led to the departure of Royal Governor Lord Dunmore and any remaining vestiges of British power over the Colony of Virginia during the early days of the conflict.
Battle of Quebec – December 31, 1775 – The Battle of Quebec was America’s first real defeat of the American Revolutionary War. It was a daring attempt to capture Quebec from the British led by General Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold.
Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge – February 27, 1776 – The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge was a debacle for the British loyalist forces in North Carolina. The Scottish loyalists met stiff resistance from the American militia and took heavy casualties.
Battle of Nassau – March 3–4, 1776 – One of the first naval battles in American History. It put pressure on the British to modify their trade routes within the Caribbean.
Battle of Sullivan’s Island – June 28, 1776 – The first attempt from the British to begin a military push into the southern colonies. They were met with stiff resistance and were unable to break the American defense even with a superior navy.
Battles of the Cherokee Campaign – The Cherokee waged war with the Americans throughout the war. They fought each other from the beginning to the end of the Revolution and continued to fight after the Treaty of Paris.
Battle of Long Island – August 27, 1776 – A disastrous loss for the Continental Army and a glorious victory for the British. The loss at Long Island began to push the Continental Army out of New York and gave England control of the most important port in the Northern colonies.
Battle for New York – September – November 1776 – The defense of New York was controversial. Its defense was a disaster from the start and ended with the capture of many Continental Troops. It was one of George Washington’s worst moments in the war.
Battle of Lake Champlain – October 11, 1776 – The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the New York mainland and Valcour Island. The battle is generally regarded as one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War and one of the first fought by the United States Navy
Battle of White Plains – October 28, 1776 – Another loss for the Continental Army and one of the first encounters with the new British mercenaries, The Hessians.
Battle of Trenton – December 26, 1776 – An American victory that pushed the British out of New Jersey and raised American morale.
Battle of Princeton – January 3, 1777 – The Battle of Princeton took place shortly after the Battle of Trenton. It was another American victory that boosted the morale of the men in the Continental Army.
Siege of Fort Ticonderoga – July 5 – 6, 1777 – The siege of Fort Ticonderoga was the second battle of Fort Ticonderoga. The British regained control of the fort and continued the push that led to the Battles of Saratoga.
Battle of Hubbardton – July 7, 1777
Siege of Fort Stanwix – August 2 – 23, 1777
Battle of Oriskany – August 6, 1777
Battle of Bennington – August 16, 1777 – An overlooked battle that crippled Burgoyne during the Saratoga Campaign. The militia was commanded by John Stark. Battle of
Brandywine – September 11, 1777 – William Howe’s masterful defeat of Washington and the first battle that led to the capture of Philadelphia.
Battle of the Clouds – September 16, 1777
Battle of Paoli – September 21, 1777
Battle of Germantown – October 4, 1777
Battle of Bemis Heights – October 7, 1777 – Second Battle of Saratoga that led to the capture of Burgoyne’s army and the entrance of France into the war.
Battle of Fort Mercer and Mifflin – October 22, 1777
Battle of White Marsh – December 5–8, 1777
Battle of the British Isles
Battle of Caribbean
Battle of Monmouth – June 28, 1778 – The last major battle in the Northern Theater and the first battle in which Washington fought the British and held the field by using traditional European tactics.
Wyoming Massacre – July 3, 1778
Battle of Rhode Island – August 29, 1778
Capture of Savannah – December 29, 1778
Battle of Kettle Creek – February 14, 1779
Battle of Vincennes – February 23–25, 1779
Battle of Brier Creek – March 3, 1779
Battle of Penobscot Bay – June 17, 1779 – August 13, 1779
Battle of Stono Ferry – June 20, 1779
Battle of Stony Point – July 16, 1779
Battle of Newtown -August 29, 1779
Siege of Savannah – September 16 – October 18, 1779
Siege of Charleston – March 29 – May 12, 1780
Battle of Waxhaws – May 29, 1780
Battle of Williamson’s Plantation – July 12, 1780
Battle of Hanging Rock – August 6, 1780
Battle of Musgrove Mill – August 18, 1780
Battle of Augusta – September 14 – 18, 1780
Battle of Kings Mountain – October 7, 1780
Battle of Blackstock’s Farm – November 20, 1780
Battle of Cowpens – January 17, 1781 – Total victory for the American forces under Daniel Morgan. The Americans destroyed most of Cornwallis’ right wing with their victory over the hated Banastre Tarleton.
Battle of Haw River – February 25, 1781
Battle of Guilford Court House – March 15, 1781 – Technically a British victory. It caused Cornwallis to begin his retreat to Yorktown. Guilford Courthouse ended when Cornwallis fired grapeshot into the Americans and British in order to save his army.
Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill – April 25, 1781
Siege of Pensacola – March 9 – May 10, 1781
Siege of Ninety-Six and Augusta – May 22 – June 19, 1781
Battle of Green Spring – July 6, 1781
Battle of the Chesapeake – September 5, 1781
Battle of New London – September 6, 1781
Battle of Eutaw Springs – September 8, 1781
Siege of Yorktown – September 28 – October 19, 1781 – The final event of the
American Revolutionary War. The treaty would not be signed for two more years but ended in American Independence from Great Britain.
Battle of the Blue Licks – April 19, 1782
Battle of Arkansas Post – April 17, 1783