Battle of Guilford Courthouse, March 15, 1781. Painting from Prints and Posters; Soldiers of the American Revolution, Center of Military History. Date unknown. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
American Revolution Timeline - Major Battles
For seven years from 1775-1783, battles were waged around the eastern seaboard of the United States, a revolution among the citizens of America, the nascent United States of America, against the British Empire, colonies rising up against the tyranny of their oppressors and seeking freedom. Led by George Washington in battles fought from Quebec to New England to the Carolinas, it would be a war of liberty, of men fighting for their homeland, of a nation being born. Many of these battles have been shortchanged in the annuls of history; some unknown in the areas where they were fought, but at the end of a decade, a new nation would be hatched from the bravery of the men and women of the American Revolution. The battles listed below are considered the major battles of the American Revolution by the staff of americasbesthistory.com, some protected by National Park Service sites, state parks, and others still to be protected.
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- Battle Timeline
January 7, 1781 - Battle of Mobile, West Florida (Alabama)
Troops: Spain 200; British/Allies 841.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Spain 37; British 20.
Attempt by British troops, Indians, and Waldekers to retake Mobile is repulsed, sending the British back to Pensacola.
January 17, 1781 - Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina
Troops: Continental Army 800-1,912; British 1,150.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Continental Army 149; British 339, 829 captured/missing.
Cornwallis sends Lt. Col. Tarleton to roust section of Southern Army of General Morgan in west South Carolina. Successive lines of defense by Continental troops repulse British, leading to surprising victory and capture of many of the best troops that Cornwallis had.
February 1, 1781 - Battle of Cowan's Ford, North Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Allies 900; British 5,000.
Casualties: Continental Army 4, not including wounded, 3 captured; British 40.
British victory during Cornwallis march to destroy General Greene's southern army as Continental forces attempt to slow their progress across Catawba River.
February 25, 1781 - Battle of Haw River, North Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 600; British 300-400.
Casualties: Continental Army 1; British 343.
British loyalist militia is deceived into thinking Patriot militia were reinforcements from the British Army and are surprised in attack.
March 6, 1781 - Battle of Wetzell's Mill, North Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 600-700; British/Loyalists 1,200.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 30; British/Loyalists 30.
Skirmish activity between reconnaissance force of Continental Army and Cornwallis troops under Tarleton. Inconclusive battle.
March 9 to May 8, 1781 - Siege of Pensacola, West Florida
Troops: Spain 17,400; British/Allies 1,800.
Casualties: Spain 296; British/Allies 207, 1,113 captured.
Culmination of Spanish attempt to roust British from their province of West Florida.
April 15-23, 1781 - Siege of Fort Watson, South Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 380; British 120.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 8; British 120.
Fortified outpost in British communication chain to Charleston is surrendered to Continental Army and militia after deployment of Maham's Tower.
April 25, 1781 - Battle of Blandford, Virginia
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 1,000; British 2,500.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 150; British 25-30.
Outnumbered Patriot militia, who had been attempting to battle Benedict Arnold since his arrival in Virginia, provide strong resistance near Petersburg, but eventually lose and retreat to Richmond.
April 25, 1781 - Battle of Hobkirk's Hill (Second Battle of Camden), South Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 1,551; British 900.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 182, 89 captured (including wounded); British 261.
Strong clash between Greene's forces against smaller British force is tactical success for British when Greene leaves them in possession of the hill. However, one of four battles which would lead to the abandonment of Camden two weeks later.
May 22 to June 6, 1781 - Siege of Augusta, Georgia
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 1,600; British 630.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 51; British 52, 334 captured.
Fort Cornwallis, Fort Grierson, and town of Augusta surrenders after two week siege, including the introduction of a cannon on a constructed tower which became effective in the battle by Continental Army forces against Fort Cornwallis.
May 22 to June 19, 1781 - Siege of Ninety-Six, South Carolina
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 1,000-1,500; British 550.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 147; British 85.
British withstand the twenty-eight day siege by Nathaniel Greene's forces when reinforcements are sent from Charleston.
July 6, 1781 - Battle of Green Spring, Virginia
Troops: Continental Army 800-900; British 7,000.
Casualties: Continental Army 150; British 75.
General Anthony leads Continental Army into ambush with Cornwallis during his march to Portsmouth, with bayonet charge enabling the Patriots to retreat.
September 5, 1781 - Battle of the Chesapeake, Virginia
Troops: France 24 ships; British 19 ships.
Casualties: France 220, 2 ships damaged; British 346, five ships damaged, 1 scuttled.
Strategically decisive naval battle victory for French and American forces at head of Chesapeake Bay as it prevented British from reinforcing or evacuating the troops of Cornwallis during Siege of Yorktown.
September 6, 1781 - Battle of Groton Heights, Connecticutt
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 150; British/Allies 1.700.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 145; British/Allies 197.
British commanders in New York City order General Benedict Arnold to attack New London, attempting to divert Washington's attention from marching against Cornwallis in the Southern Campaign. British raid a success in burning New London and several ships, but do not take Fort Griswold or prevent Washington's march.
September 8, 1781 - Battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina
Troops: Continental Army 2,200; British 2,000.
Casualties: Continental Army 519, 60 captured; British 452 (70 wounded captured), 430 additional captured.
Last major engagement of the Southern theater when British Colonel Alexander Stewart marches from Charleston garrison to engage General Greene. Tactical British victory after several changes in advantage, but strategic American victory as it left British in control of few locations in the South.
September 28 to October 19, 1781 - Siege of Yorktown, Virginia
Troops: Continental Army/France 18,900, 29 warships; British/Hessians 9,100.
Casualties: Continental Army/France 389; British/Hessians 468-904, 7,416-7,685 captured.
Continental Army under George Washington and French forces under Comte de Rochambeau siege the troops of General Cornwallis in successive parallels, with terms of surrender agreed upon on October 19. Last major North American engagement of the war as negotiations for the 1783 Treaty of Paris would begin.
October 25, 1781 - Battle of Johnstown, New York
Troops: Continental Army/Militia 416; British 700.
Casualties: Continental Army/Militia 36, 5 captured; British/Loyalists 22, 32 captured.
British raiding party attack Johnstown, but eventually retreats in last significant action in Mohawk Valley just as news of Cornwallis surrender reaches sections of New York.
Note: Photo above: Surrender of Cornwallis after the Battle of Yorktown. Image of Major General O'Hara (British) handing sword to Continental Army General Lincoln. Lithograph by N. Currier, 1846. Courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.