This was sent to us by a First Year at my old University. It has been un changed so please be critical.  So I can pass where to improve on. Thank you guys

How and why did the United States Win and the British lose the War of Independence?

“The War of Independence plays such an important part in American popular ideology” it is the creation myth of the American people, but how did the United States win? How could it manage to take on one of the worlds great powers and win? There are many factors that lead to American victory, which in a sense could have been over before it began. British indecisiveness after the battle of Brandywine Creek, with the chance to finish Washington’s force and effectively, end the Revolution, and with the splitting of his force the British would lose the Battle of Saratoga on September 19 and October 7, 1777 effectively destroyed a large part of the British army in North America. Another principle to look at, at the reason why America won was due to the over stretched supply lines, with a total of two months travel time across the Atlantic ocean, this meant a communications with London were out of date by the time they reached, the Generals in the field, this combined with that the war will eventually engulf other nations against Great Britain, lead to a strain on their armed forces and an eventual downfall, and the crippling economic cost that was accumulated during the war. All these factors provide and insight into this interesting question, how did a super power lose.

If you first look at the military aspect of the war the Continental army, was raised quite quickly after the battle of Lexington and Concorde, were a group of volunteers, Washington said of them after that “I dare say the men should fight very well (if properly officered) although they are an exceedingly dirty and nasty people” which shows the contempt that Washington had for the Continental army. Even with this lack of contempt for the Army that Washington had created, even to this extent it did show the skill of Washington as a General, to rally his troops as Valley Forge after the British capture of Philadelphia. With this considering General Howe had the tactical advantage then and there to effectively end the American cause. Colin Berwick believed that to this point, “Had he displayed greater energy he might have captured the entire army and possibly terminated the rebellion” Howe was provided the most credible chance of ending the war at an early stage, but with this the Continental had time to regroup and retrain especially, since the battle of Saratoga, which gave the fledgling country some impetuous on the world stage, with the implementation of Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, a Prussian officer who’s work at Training the American Forces was invaluable, to helping them over come the British. “His work at Valley Forge was to turn the ragged Continentals into a far more professional and competent army. First he selected a model company, which he trained personally, although he eventually needed a translator for his orders. The members of this company were then able to spread his methods across the army. Those methods were intelligently modified from the Prussian models to make them better suit American conditions and the character of the American volunteer soldiers.” This shows that effective training provided a Washington, with a much more viable force than he started with, this increased Training would give the Americans a much more effective edge against there British counterparts, more ever in marksman ship, and Guerrilla tactics, which in affect the British army were not used to. “Much of the fighting especially in the south, took the form of guerrilla warfare, at which American militiamen proved more adept than British regulars” to this extent the British Red Coats were more used to fighting a general European war, with rigged formations and formations, not the hit and run tactics used in the American village areas this made it especially hard for the British to effectively hold onto any ground that they have taken. “Though every important American town fell to the British during the war, there were not enough troops to garrison them. The moment the British moved away from a subdued region, rebellion flared up in their rear.”

With what every bit of ground the British had taken, there was a matter of re supply and garrisoning those towns. Once British troops move out of the area, they would evidently rise up against the British again, coupled with the reliance on supplies from Britain, this lead to a more pressure on the Royal Navy, even though the most powerful navy at that time, it became very hard once the French navy became involved in the conflict.

The essence, of supply is vital. The impact of this affect can be considered by Harry Wards statement that “Soldiers plundered the countryside for food” showed how important the rule of supply, was for the British in the war, unlike the Americans who could relay on the local communities except for the Loyalists, who would side with the British but the support there was minimum, to a extent, this wasn’t a worry but until the French involvement a strain became evident on the Royal Navy. “The Royal Navy was hard put to it to contain the new powerful French fleet. Spain’s entry into the war added further to the strain” to this extent even with the British to a point winning slightly on land, they could effectively not deal with threats to the two combined fleets, even though Spain was not actually allied to America during the war, and was only dragged in due to an alliance with France. It would only be a matter of time this coupled, with the supply issue and the lack of support in the local population in the towns that they have take. Jones states that “Thus if the Americans could but retain the will to fight and some capacity for doing so, they were bound to win in the end”. In a sense it was possible for the British to effectively defeat the Americans but in a long protracted war, with supply problems, and command issues, it would effectively take reinforcements, and messages, three months to get across the channel, and this would be vital time lost, and with the dissipation of the Royal Navy to protect other British interests. This can be more ever seen at the battle of Yorktown at the end of the war, the British army was pinned in the bay with out any means of naval escape, it would lead to General Cornwallis to surrender and in affect end the war.
Over all in retrospect if you look at the initial position of Britain before the War it seemed impossible for them to lose, the war yes they lost some battles against the Americans but, tactical indecisiveness by the British Generals notably General Howe, having the chance to finish the rebellion after the capture of Philadelphia, but the long nature of the supply lines for the British, and then the need to protect these supply lines from French and Spanish as they came into the war on Americans side this made the situation, much harder for the British as supply of the land was harder due to the Americans cause was strong. The Ironic idea is that at the treaty of Paris the British didn’t lose as much as you would expect from a defeated power. The war could have turned a different way if certain turning points went a different direction.

Bibliography
Colin Bonwick The American Revolution (Macmillan 1991 )

Richard Holmes http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/rebels_redcoats_01.shtml (accessed 15/02/2010)

Maldwyn A. Jones The Limits of Liberty American History 1607-1992 (Oxford University Press)

Rickard, J. (28 May 2003), Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von Steuben (1730-94),http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_steuben.html

Harry M.Ward The American Revolution Nationhood Achieved, 1763-1788,

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