American Revolution Series
Guthrie Soldiers, Frontier Rangers, & Other Patriotic Service by Colony
On the eve of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania was a multi-ethnic colony of about 250,000 inhabitants, with the English, Germans, and Scots-Irish each constituting approximately a third of the total population. Although primarily entrusted with protecting the province from invasion and insurrection, the Pennsylvania Associators were called upon to fight alongside the Continental army in New Jersey and New York. Pennsylvania was the site of many key events associated with the American Revolution and American Revolutionary War. The city of Philadelphia, then capital of the Thirteen Colonies and the largest city in the colonies, was a gathering place for the Founding Fathers who discussed, debated, developed, and ultimately implemented many of the acts, including signing the Declaration of Independence, that inspired and launched the revolution and the quest for independence from the British Empire.
The first protests against English rule in the Colonies happened in Massachusetts, as did the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Even after the British had withdrawn from the colony Massachusetts continued to have a great effect on the War. Massachusetts contributed more soldiers to the Army than any other colony, with soldiers from Massachusetts fighting in nearly every significant battle.
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Nearly one third of all the battles fought during the American Revolution were fought in New York State. The capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the Battles of Oriskany, Newtown and Saratoga are just a few of the major events that took place on New York soil.
During the American Revolution the state’s arms and other manufacturing industries contributed greatly to the war effort, earning Connecticut the nickname “Provisions State.” Western Connecticut, settled earlier than the east, was much more loyalist in sentiment, but the growing eastern region dominated colony politics at the outbreak of hostilities. In 1775 several thousand militiamen from Connecticut joined in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Although officially part of Pennsylvania during the colonial period, the “Lower Counties” of New Castle, Kent and Sussex retained a separate identity and, after 1704, their own governing assembly. The outbreak of war with Great Britain prompted Delaware’s formal separation as a sovereign state. On June 15, 1776, the Assembly of the Lower Counties called for the formation of a new government “for the safety, protection and happiness” of its citizens. The following month, Delaware’s delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia joined the other states in voting for the Declaration of Independence.
No major battles were fought on New Hampshire soil during the American Revolution, but its people contributed to the Army and Naval forces of the patriot cause.
New Jersey played a crucial role in the American Revolution. Positioned between the new nation’s capital in Philadelphia and the British stronghold in New York, no place in New Jersey was spared the ravages of war. During six years of conflict, General George Washington and the Continental Army spent more days in New Jersey than any other state.
Rhode Island was the first to call for a continental congress in 1774 and the first, in 1776, to eliminate an oath of allegiance to the British crown that had been required of colonial officials. Once the Revolution began in earnest, the state suffered considerably. The British occupied Newport for more than three years (1776–79), bombarded Bristol, and foraged for food and firewood extensively in the southern part of the state. Half the people of Newport fled during the occupation, and the British army burned nearly 500 buildings for firewood.
The history of Virginia in the American Revolution begins with the role the Colony of Virginia played in early dissent against the British government and culminates with the defeat of General Cornwallis by the allied forces at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, an event signaled the effective military end to the conflict.
Although no major Battles of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) occurred in Maryland itself, (although the British Royal Navy fleet passed through and up the Bay to land troops at the “Head of Elk”), to attack the colonies’ capital city, this did not prevent the state’s soldiers from distinguishing themselves through their service. General George Washington counted the “Maryland Line” regiment who fought in the Continental Army especially the famed “Maryland 400” during the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776, outside New York Town as among his finest soldiers, and Maryland is still known as “The Old Line State” today.
As colonial relations with Britain deteriorated and King George III declared the colonies to be in rebellion, the North Carolina delegates advocated withholding their colony’s naval stores from British use, strengthening the Revolution, and forming a Carolina militia. Several colonies had large groups of Loyalists, including North Carolina, many of these being Scottish highlanders. When the British army occupied the region in 1780 and 1781, North Carolina Loyalists reemerged and waged fierce battles with the Patriots.
South Carolina, like her sister colony to the north, saw the rise of partisan groups over the years before the outbreak of fighting with Britain. The “Tories” or Loyalists were the conservative force, grateful for the protection afforded their commercial interests by the British navy. Over 400 land engagements (battles and skirmishes) took place in South Carolina during the war for independence.
Though Georgians opposed British trade regulations, many hesitated to join the revolutionary movement that emerged in the American colonies in the early 1770s and resulted in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). The colony had prospered under royal rule, and many Georgians thought that they needed the protection of British troops against a possible Indian attack. News of the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts caused many Georgians who were wavering in their allegiance to join the radical movement. A group called the Sons of Liberty broke into the powder magazine in Savannah on May 11, 1775, and divided the powder with the South Carolina revolutionaries.