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American Revolution Battles: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Philip McMurry

Philip has taught college history, English, and political science, and he has a doctorate in American history.

This lesson focuses on the military advantages and disadvantages seen by the British and Americans during the Revolutionary War. It also shows how the United States was able to use its advantages to the best effect during the war.

Fighting a Giant

Have you heard the story of David and Goliath? It is the tale of a young boy who fought and defeated a giant. Well, the United States was like a young boy taking on the giant that was the British Empire during the American Revolution. Though the British had many advantages in this war, it was the ability of the Americans to use their knowledge of the land that helped them succeed.

David and Goliath
David

The Mighty British

At the time of the American Revolution, Great Britain was one of the most powerful nations in the world. They had the greatest navy on the planet and a well-trained army. The successful British economy kept their soldiers equipped with the best weapons and supplies in existence at that time. Their military officers were experts in organizing and leading men in combat. Britain was a true military giant.

The Comforts of Home

The newly formed United States did not have any of these advantages. Its army was mostly made up of part-time militia who had only limited training. American military forces were often short on weapons and supplies, and the young nation had no real navy to speak of. However, the U.S. did have one very important advantage: the majority of the fighting took place on American soil.

Trying to Compete

In most cases, when the U.S. tried to go ''head-to-head'' with the British, things did not go well for the Americans.

  • Battle of Brooklyn Heights (August 1776) - General George Washington wanted to protect the largest city in the colonies: New York. A British force attacked the city's defenders from three different directions at once, causing the poorly trained Americans to retreat in confusion. The British then took control of New York City.

Retreat from Long Island
Retreat

  • Battle of Brandywine (September 1777) - The British wished to take the city of Philadelphia, which was symbolically very important. British forces were able to move much more quickly than American officers believed possible, and they caught the continental forces unprepared. Under heavy fire, the American soldiers retreated, and Philadelphia was captured.

Home-Field Advantage

The Americans had their greatest successes when they were able to use their expert knowledge of the territory to take the British by surprise.

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