Importance of The American Revolutionary War

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The American Revolutionary War or American War of Independence lasted from 1775 to 1783. It was originally a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its former British colonies in North America however, it soon became a global war between many European great powers.

The war was incited by the political ideology of the American Revolution. During the revolution colonists refused to accept the Parliament of Great Britain govern them without representation. They stated that this violated the Rights of Englishmen. By 1775, a set of revolutionaries achieved control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, established the Second Continental Congress, and created a Continental Army. Petitions were sent to the king requesting him to intervene in the affairs of the parliament which resulted in Congress being deemed traitors followed by a widespread rebellion in a number of states. The Americans united and in 1776 declared their independence as a new nation: the United States of America. They claimed sovereignty and rejected any allegiance to the British monarchy.

France came to the aid of the newly formed independent nation by giving the rebels with ammunition and weapons as of 1776. France formally entered the war in early 1778, which meant the Americans were evenly matched with the military power of Britain. Spain and the Dutch Republic who were French allies also went to war with Britain over the next two years. They threatened the empire with an invasion of England and tested British military strength by leading campaigns in Europe inclusive of attacks on Minorca and Gibraltar and an notable global naval war. Spain helped to get rid of the British armies from West Florida and secured the American colonies’ southern flank.

For the duration of the war, the British were able to use their naval superiority to their advantage by capturing and occupying the American coastal cities. However, control of the countryside which housed 90% of the population was evidently near impossible because of the fairly small size of their land based army. With French naval assistance they were able to hold on to the Chesapeake in 1781 which lead to the surrender of a second British army in Yorktown. By 1783 the Treaty of Paris officially concluded the war and declared the sovereignty of the United States over the areas within what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.

The total loss of life resulting from the American Revolutionary War is not known. The living conditions in that period ensured that disease claimed the lives of more individuals than actual battle. During1775 and 1782, a smallpox epidemic devastated much of North America, killing more than 130,000 people. Historian Joseph Ellis suggested that Washington’s decision to have his troops vaccinated against the smallpox epidemic was perhaps one of the most significant decisions during that period.

An estimated 25,000 American Revolutionaries died during active military service. About 8,000 of these deaths were associated with direct battle; the other 17,000 deaths were from disease, including about 8,000 – 12,000 who died while prisoners of war, most in rotting prison ships in New York. The number of Revolutionaries who were left badly wounded or disabled by the war has been estimated to be anywhere between 8,500 to 25,000. The total American military casualty figure was as a result as much as 50,000.