Battle of Princeton

Battle of Princeton lithograph by D. McClellan Bruckner, 1853. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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 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, some protected by National Park Service sites, state parks, and others still to be protected.

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  • Battle Timeline

  • Battle of Brandywine


    January 2, 1777 - Second Battle of Trenton, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental 6,000; British 6,000.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Continental Army 7-100; British 55-365, including captured.
    Strong counterattack of three charges by Cornwallis and British forces after first battle one week before met by Washington and the Continental Army, repulsed each time. When Cornwallis waits until the next day to fight again, Washington moves around the British camp to Princeton at night.

    January 3, 1777 - Battle of Princeton, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental Army 4,500; British 1,200.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): Continental Army 65-84; British 76-170, 194-280 captured.
    Surprise attack by Washington against the forces left by Cornwallis under Mawwood at Princeton, rallying the Continental troops to victory and a British withdraw from south New Jersey. Third loss by British forces in ten days increased morale and recruitment into Washington's army.

    January - March 1777 - Forage War, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental Army 1,000 plus; British 10,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army NA; British 954, including captured.
    Series of skirmishes by various regulars and militia of Washington's army, up to one thousand per engagement such as the Battle of Millstone, against forage parties of the British and Hessians quartered for the winter in New Jersey cause more casualties in the British and their allies than the entire New York campaign.

    April 13, 1777 - Battle of Bound Brook, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental Army 500; British 4,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army 40-120, including captured; British 7.
    Surprise raid on the garrison at Bound Brook by troops from the British headquartered at New Brunswick cause heavy casualties and plunder of the forward base of Washington's operations while camped at Morristown. Remainder of Continental Army escapes.

    April 27, 1777 - Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticutt
    Troops: Continental Army/Militia 1,700; British 1,800.
    Casualties: Continental Army 60-100; British 104-154, plus 40 captured.
    British landing party destroys supplies at Danbury before pursuit by Connecticutt militia engages in skirmishes, a battle in Ridgefield, and harrasment as the British fled to their fleet. Raid was a tactical success for British, but galvanized support for the Continental cause in Connecticutt.

    June 26, 1777 - Battle of Metuchen Meetinghouse, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental Army 2,500; British 11,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army NA, 70 captured; British 35.
    After a British attempt to lure the Continental Army out of the Watchung Mountains, Washington marches his forward divisions out of the hills; British attempt to cut off his escape route back. Battle forces Washington to retreat.

    July 2-6, 1777 - Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, New York
    Troops: Continental Army 3,000; British 7,000, Indians 800.
    Casualties: Continental Army 18; British 5.
    Uncontested surrender of what was thought the strong and vital fort caused court marshals of General St. Clair and General Schuyler, both exonerated, and loss of a vital New York defense, which suprised the public and military.

    July 7, 1777 - Battle of Hubbardton, Vermont
    Troops: Continental Army 1,200; British 1,030.
    Casualties: Continental Army 137 plus 230 captured; British 190-228.
    In the only Vermont battle of the revolution, retreating forces from Fort Ticonderoga are engaged by forces of British General Fraser in the Saratoga campaign. British tactical victory, despite casualties that effectively ended their pursuit of the main Continental force.

    August 2-22, 1777 - Siege of Fort Stanwix (Fort Schuyler), New York
    Troops: Continental Army 2,350-2,550; British 750, Iroquois 800.
    Casualties: Continental Army 34; British 159, including captured.
    British Brigadier General Barry St. Leger's siege is stopped when Benedict Arnold's force of reinforcements nears, using a ruse of a larger force, convincing St. Leger to retreat. During the battle on August 3, the flag of the United States is first flown in battle.

    August 6, 1777 - Battle of Oriskany, New York
    Troops: Continental Army/Militia 720-740, Oneidas 60-100; British 500.
    Casualties: Continental Army 435 plus 30 captured; British 96-150, including captured.
    Patriots and allied Oneida are ambushed trying to relieve Fort Stanwix by Loyalists and members of the Iroquois confederacy. One of the bloodiest battles of the war.

    August 16, 1777 - Battle of Bennington, Vermont
    Troops: Continental Army 2,350; British/Hessians 1,350-1,450.
    Casualties: Continental Army 70; British/Hessians 207, plus 700 captured.
    British General Burgoyne's attempt to raid a lightly defended town becomes surprised by 1,500 troops stationed there. Decisive victory for Continental forces with loss of nearly one thousand troops for the British cause would eventually lead to the loss at Saratoga.

    August 22, 1777 - Battle of Staten Island, New York
    Troops: Continental Army 1,000; British 1,300.
    Casualties: Continental Army 30, captured 150-239; British 96.
    Attack on British position after British General Howe's departure for the Philadelphia Campaign weakened its defenses ends with British tactical victory and charges of a mismanaged raid.

    September 11, 1777 - Battle of Brandywine
    Troops: Continental Army 14,600; British 15,500.
    Casualties: Continental Army 900 plus 400 captured; British 587.
    General Howe's force, arriving in Elkton, Maryland in late August to attack Philadelphia from the south, engages Washington's army forty-five miles southwest of Philadelphia for the largest battle of the Revolution. Lasting eleven hours, the British victory caused Washington to retreat back to Philadelphia.

    September 16, 1777 - Battle of the Clouds, Pennsylvania
    Troops: Continental Army 10,000; British 18,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army 100; British 100.
    Washington marches his troops west from Philadelphia; British split forces marching north from Brandywine and begin a general engagement, which becomes thwarted by a tropical storm. Washington retreats west to protect his military supplies at forges near Reading, leaves General Wayne and his troops behind to harass and monitor British movements.

    September 19, 1777 - Battle of Saratoga (Freeman's Farm), New York
    Troops: Continental Army 9,000; British 7,200.
    Casualties: Continental Army 300; British 600
    First battle of Saratoga. General Burgoyne attempts to flank the Continental Army, takes control of Freeman's Farm, but suffers significant casualties.

    September 20-21, 1777 - Paoli Massacre, Pennsylvania
    Troops: Continental Army 2,500; British 1,200 w/600 in support.
    Casualties: Continental Army 166 plus 71 captured; British 11
    General Wayne's troops, thinking he has gone undetected, becomes surprised in a midnight raid of his camp by British dragoons, who massacre the troops in a brutal raid. Leads to the rallying cry "Remember Paoli" for the remainder of the war. Wayne's retreating troops meet back with Washington's main force at Camp Pottsgrove. Washington again believes the British feignt west toward the forges, but his mistake costs him Philadelphia when the British reverse course and take the city several days later.

    October 4, 1777 - Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania
    Troops: Continental Army 11,000; British 9,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army 673 plus 438 captured; British 533
    Washington marches his troops from Camp Pottsgrove to battle the British at their barracks in Germantown, trying to unseat them from Philadelphia. Heavy fog enabled initial success, but British victory would follow, allowing them control of the city for the winter.

    October 6, 1777 - Battles of Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery, New York
    Troops: Continental Army 600; British 2,100.
    Casualties: Continental Army 75 plus 263 captured; British 183
    On the Hudson River highlands near West Point, British General Sir Henry Clinton takes the forts in simultaneous battles. Also meant to create diversion for British to battles at Saratoga, but the diversion did not succeed.

    October 7, 1777 - Battle of Saratoga (Bemis Heights), New York
    Troops: Continental Army 12-15,000; British 6,600.
    Casualties: Continental Army 200 (est.); British 535, over 6,000 captured between the two battles.
    Continental reinforcements since the first battle of Saratoga at Freeman's Farm gain victory against British General Burgoyne's attack on Bemis Heights. British are forced back to positions prior to September 19.

    October 7, 1777 - Battle of Red Bank, New Jersey
    Troops: Continental Army 400; British/Hessian 1,200.
    Casualties: Continental Army 37; British 310, 60 captured.
    Hessian force sent to capture Fort Mercer, across Delaware River from Fort Mifflin, is defeated by a much smaller force of Continental soldiers.

    September 26 to November 15, 1777 - Siege of Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania
    Troops: Continental Army 450 plus river flotilla; British 2,000 plus naval squadron.
    Casualties: Continental Army 250 plus river flotilla; British 62 plus 58 captured and two ships sunk.
    British attempt to resupply troops now stationed in Philadelphia by sailing ships up the Delaware River stalls in a valiant effort by two Continental forts (Mifflin and Mercer) to stop the effort. After nearly two months of fighting the larger British force, Continental troops abandon fort when the constant barrage could not be countered.

    December 5-8, 1777 - Battle of White Marsh, Pennsylvania
    Troops: Continental Army 9,500; British 10,000.
    Casualties: Continental Army 150 plus 54 captured; British 112 plus 238 deserted.
    Last major engagement of 1777 occurs with skirmish actions by General Howe's British troops who marched out from Philadelphia to try to destroy Washington's army before winter. Inconclusive action was eventually called off by Howe, allowing Washington to march his troops into the winter encampment at Valley Forge on December 19.

    Note: Photo above: Drawing of the Battle of the Brandywine by F.C. Yohn, 1898, courtesy Library of Congress. Casualty and troop strength numbers from Wikipedia Commons via various sources.

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