American Revolution: Major Events 1775

The following is a list of major events for 1775, and the embryo of a new nation.


 26 February: British troops went by sea via Marblehead to destroy ordnance gathered by patriots at Salem, Massachusetts. Tense confrontation developed with Salem militia, and first, though slight, bloodshed occurred between British troops and militia prelude to Lexington and Concord.

 23 March: Virginia Convention resolved that colony ought immediately to be put into posture of defense, and Patrick Henry in this connection delivered his “liberty or death” speech.

 15 April: In Boston, 23 flank (light infantry and grenadier) companies of 11 British regiments then composing garrison were detached, ostensibly for separate training.

 18 April: In late evening, British assembled flank companies in Boston for expedition to destroy colonial stores at Concord, and Paul Revere and William Dawes set out with this news to arouse militia and minutemen of towns along and surrounding line of march.

 19 April: In battles of Lexington, Concord, and during British retreat to Boston, about 4,000 patriot minutemen and militia and about I ,800 British troops were engaged, sustaining losses totaling about 95 on patriot side and 270 on British. Lexington and Concord marked transition from agitation to armed rebellion, and patriot propagandist versions of action did much to cement popular sentiment in 13 colonies behind armed rebellion.

 19 April: Secret committee in Charleston, South Carolina, seized mail arriving on British packet ship Swallow disclosing intentions of British Government to coerce colonies into submission. This action gave timely warning to patriots in Carolinas and Georgia, and disclosed to Second Continental Congress first clear evidence of British intentions.

 19 April 1775-17 March 1776: Patriot forces besieged Boston for nearly a year, although officially designated Boston Campaign dates from 17 June rather than 19 April.

 20 April: Massachusetts Committee of Safety, acting on behalf of Provincial Congress, called out entire militia of colony. 

20-21 April: When Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore (John Murray) seized provincial powder supply at Williamsburg, open fighting with patriots was barely averted. 

21 April: Patriots in Charleston, South Carolina, seized all powder from public magazines.

 23 April: Massachusetts Provincial Congress resolved that volunteer New England Army of 30,000 should be raised, to which Massachusetts would contribute 13,600. The other New England Colonies were asked to furnish the rest.

 25 April: People of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after hearing news of Lexington and Concord, agreed to associate “for the purpose of defending with arms, their lives, their property, and liberty.” I May: People of New York City chose Committee of One Hundred to “stand or fall with the liberty of the continent.”

 10 May: Second Continental Congress met in State House (Independence Hall), in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Delegates from all colonies except Georgia were present.

 10 May: Fort Ticonderoga, New York, guarding portage between Lake Champlain and Lake George on strategic Montreal-New York waterway, was captured by mixed force of Green Mountain Boys and others led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold (Ticonderoga Campaign). Capture included 50 British soldiers and large quantities of cannon and other ordnance supplies.

 11 May: Patriots in Savannah, Georgia, seized powder from royal magazine.

 12 May: Patriots captured Crown Point, New York, British post on Lake Champlain 10 miles north of Ticonderoga, and its ordnance stores.

 15 May: Acting on request of City and County of New York through colony delegates, Continental Congress appointed committee to determine military posts and number of troops needed to man them in New York, first step toward absorbing New York forces into a Continental army.

 17-18 May: St. Johns, Canada, on Richelieu River east of Montreal, was occupied briefly by Col. Benedict Arnold and on next day by Ethan Allen and Green Mountain Boys.

 25 May: Major Generals John Burgoyne, Henry Clinton, and William Howe arrived in Boston as part of reinforcements for General Gage. By mid-June British had force of 6,500 rank and file in Boston.

 25 May: Acting on committee report, Continental Congress resolved that posts were needed at Kings Bridge, Hudson Highlands, and Lake George in New York, which should be manned by not more than 3,000 men, with action by New York provincial Congress “until further order is taken by this Congress.”

 27 May: Patriot attack on Noddle’s (now East Boston) and Hog Islands in Boston harbor included destruction of British armed schooner Diana. In day of skirmishing four patriots were slightly wounded and two British killed and several wounded.

 31 May: Mecklenburg Resolves (Mecklenburg County, North Carolina) declared British laws null and void.

 31 May: Governor Josiah Martin of North Carolina fled from New Bern first to Fort Johnson on Cape Fear and then on 18 July to British sloop Cruzier in Cape Fear River.

 2 June: Massachusetts requested Continental Congress to take over regulation and direction of New England Army, since it had been raised for general defense of American rights.

 2 June: Provincial Congress of South Carolina avowed citizens of colony “ready to sacrifice their lives and their fortunes” in patriot cause.

 8 June: Flight of Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, to British warship Fowey at Yorktown, marked beginning of open conflict between patriots and loyalists in Virginia.

12 June: At Machias, Maine, patriots seized British armed cutter Margaretta with loss of seven on each side. Captain of British vessel was killed.

 14 June: BIRTHDAY OF UNITED STATES ARMY. On or before this day Continental Congress secretly adopted New England forces besieging Boston and New York forces guarding strategic positions; and openly this day Congress appointed committee to draft regulations for new Continental Army and authorized addition of 10 companies of riflemen to be drawn from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. These actions also mark establishment of Infantry on this date.

 15 June: Continental Congress appointed George Washington General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

 16 June: Congress appointed for Continental Army two major generals, eight brigadier generals, Adjutant General, Quartermaster General and deputy, Commissary General of Stores and Provisions, Commissary of Musters, Paymaster General and deputy, and Chief Engineer and two assistants. These actions mark establishment of Adjutant General’s Corps, Quartermaster Corps, Finance Corps, and Corps of Engineers.

 17 June: Battle of Bunker Hill followed overnight patriot fortification of Breed’s Hill, in front of Bunker, overlooking Charlestown, Massachusetts. In action about 2,000 patriots fought 2,500 British troops, and resulting casualties in killed and wounded were among heaviest of Revolutionary War engagements-the patriots losing 441, including 140 killed, and British 1,150 (40 percent of those engaged), including 251 killed.

 22 June: Congress resolved to issue $2,000,000 in bills of credit first Continental currency.

 25 June: Major General Philip Schuyler named commander of the Northern Department by Washington.

 27 June: Schuyler directed by Congress to proceed to Ticonderoga and Crown Point and if found practicable and “agreeable to the Canadians” to take possession of St. Johns, Montreal, and other parts of Canada.

 30 June: Congress approved rules and regulations for governance of Continental Army.

 3 July: At Cambridge, Massachusetts, General George Washington assumed command of Continental Army forces besieging Boston.

 5 July: Continental Congress adopted “Olive Branch Petition” which, while reiterating grievances of colonists, professed their attachment to the king and desire for reconciliation and avoidance of further hostile action. George III refused to receive this petition, and instead issued his 23 August proclamation declaring colonies to be in state of rebellion. 

6 July: Congress adopted Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms, which endorsed further resistance by force rather than unconditional submission to Great Britain, and threatened dissolution of ties with mother country if no just resolution of differences was forthcoming. 

10 July: Georgia sent out first patriot vessel commissioned for naval warfare. 

18 July: Congress recommended that colonies adopt a uniform organization and equipment of militia, that one-fourth of it be segregated into separate minuteman organizations, that each colony appoint committee of safety to direct its defense, and that each provide armed vessels as required to protect its harbors and navigation along its coasts. 

19 July: Congress authorized Washington to appoint Commissary General of Military Stores marking beginning of Ordnance Department. 

20 July: Patriots in surprise raid seized royal stores and their guard at Turtle Bay, Manhattan Island (presently 47th St. at East River), and sent stores to patriot forces at Boston and on Lake Champlain. 

21 July: Patriot forces raided Nantasket Point in Boston harbor, driving off guard and seizing forage, then destroyed equipment on adjacent Light-House (Great Brewster) Island, at harbor entrance, with casualties of two patriots wounded. 

25 July: First of rifle companies authorized by Congress on 14 June, led by Captain Michael Doudel of York County, Pennsylvania, reached Continental force besieging Boston.  

27 July: Action of Congress setting up “hospital” or medical service for army of 20,000 headed by “Director General and Chief Physician” marks establishment of Army Medical Department. 

29 July: Congressional action authorizing $20.00 monthly pay for chaplains then in Continental service, earliest official recognition of chaplaincy in Army, marks establishment of Chaplain’s Corps. 

29 July: Congressional action authorizing $20.00 monthly pay for Army Judge Advocate, and electing William Tudor, Esquire, to this position, marks establishment of Judge Advocate General’s Corps. 

31 July’: Patriots again attacked Great Brewster (Light-House) Island in Boston harbor, destroying repair work and capturing 33-man British marine guard and 10 workmen. Several British and two patriots were wounded. 

8-9 August: British sloop Falcon on 8 August pursued American schooner into harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts but intense shore fire drove Falcon away without its prizes and with 35 wounded aboard. Patriots seized 26 British sailors (prize crews) as prisoners of war. 

14 August: Patriot ships raided Bermuda, capturing its forts and carrying off all powder in their magazines. 

18 August: New York provincial Congress recommended that the Hudson River Highlands be fortified immediately; appointed commission to supervise construction on Constitution Island (opposite West Point). 

23 August: King George III issued proclamation declaring 13 American colonies to be in state of rebellion and sedition and directing suppression of American resistance. 

28 August: Patriot invasion of Canada from Lake Champlain began from Ticonderoga under leadership of Generals Philip Schuyler and Richard Montgomery. 

30 August: British naval bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut, killed two and destroyed a number of houses. 

5 September: Advanced detachment of General Schuyler’s patriot force was ambushed near St. Johns, Canada, by Indian force led by New York loyalist. Patriots drove Indians off in bush fight but not before losing eight killed and eight wounded. 

11 September: Colonel Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec began. Departing Cambridge, Massachusetts, this date, 1,150 men traveled mostly by water to and up Kennebec River in Maine, then by portages across height of land to Chaudière River and thence to St. Lawrence River opposite. Quebec. Only 600 reached this destination on 9 November after one of the most remarkable military marches in history.

 15 September: Lord William Campbell, Royal Governor of South Carolina, took refuge on British sloop Tamar. 

16 September-2 November: Patriot troops under General Montgomery besieged St. Johns, Canada, key to defense of Montreal. 

25 September: Leading impulsive and premature attack on Montreal, Canada, Ethan Allen and about 40 of his men were captured after some brisk skirmishing. Eventually (1778) exchanged, Allen became Continental Army colonel but spent remainder of war in Vermont. 

7 October: Small British fleet operating out of Newport bombarded Bristol, Rhode Island, until its inhabitants provided 40 sheep for British Army consumption. This was only first of series of marauding attacks on islands and shores of Narragansett Bay that led to virtual extinction of loyalist support in area. 

10 October: General William Howe replaced General Gage as Commander of British Army forces in Boston, and formally succeeded Gage as Commander-in-Chief of British Army forces in the United Colonies in April 1776. 

13 October: BIRTHDAY OF UNITED STATES NAVY. Congress this day directed fitting out of two vessels to intercept ships carrying warlike stores and other supplies to British forces, and appointed a “Marine Committee” to administer this action. 

18 October: Governor William Tryon of New York took refuge on British warship Halifax in New York harbor. 

18 October: Two British warships bombarded and burned West Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, destroying 400 of its 500 buildings and burning or capturing 15 ships. 

19 October: During siege of St. Johns, Canadian-American patriot force with some 9-pounders attacked thin-walled fortress at Chambly, Canada, and forced surrender of its 88 British regulars and other inhabitants and seized quantities of powder and ordnance supplies. This action cut water escape from St. Johns and expedited its surrender. 

24-25 October: Lord Dunmore sent British naval captain and several small ships to bombard and destroy Hampton, Virginia. Militia riflemen drove off landing party on first day of bombardment, and with addition of another rifle company repelled second day’s attack with heavy loss to British in men and ships. 

30 October: Congress authorized construction of four armed vessels “for the protection and defense of the United Colonies“-thus providing first ships of Continental Navy. 

2 November: British post of St. Johns, Canada, and its garrison of about 600 regulars and militia, surrendered. While this action opened way to capture of Montreal, British “forward” defense at St. Johns and Chambly forced patriots into costly and unsuccessful winter campaign and may have saved Canada for British. 

4 November: Congress approved reorganization of Continental Army before Boston, effective with new year; reorganized force was to consist of 20,372 officers and men to be enlisted through calendar year 1776; Congress also established a uniform ration for the Army. 

7 November: Lord Dunmore, Virginia Governor, ordered colony placed under martial law. 

9 November: Colonel Arnold’s force of 600 arrived at St. Lawrence River opposite Quebec, Canada.

 10 November: BIRTHDAY OF UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. Although colonies and Continental Army had employed marines since spring of this year, action of Congress on this day directing that two marine battalions be raised and appropriately officered is counted as beginning of Marine Corps. These battalions were to be part of Continental Army establishment under Washington’s command.

 13 November: General Montgomery’s troops occupied· Montreal, Canada, after small British force under General and Governor Sir Guy Carleton withdrew on II November. 

17 November: Appointment of Colonel Henry Knox to command of Continental Regiment of Artillery marks formal establishment of Artillery.

19 November: Patriot forces blocking St. Lawrence River near Sorel, Canada, captured three British armed vessels and eight smaller craft with their crews and cargoes, and also British Montreal garrison except General Carleton who escaped in disguise with one or two of his officers. 

19 November: Arnold, after laying siege to Quebec, withdrew forces to Point aux Trembles in face of threatened British sortie with superior force. 

22 November: Patriot force of more than 4,000 overawed smaller loyalist force at Reedy River, South Carolina (south of modern Greenville), leading to capture of principal loyalist leaders and collapse of armed loyalist opposition in South Carolina almost without bloodshed. 

27 November: Captain John Manley, commissioned by General Washington in Continental Army and master of armed schooner Lee) captured British ordnance brig Nancy at entrance of Boston harbor with cargo of tremendous value to patriot force besieging Boston-most notable of a number of captures by Washington’s “Navy” in fall and winter of 1775-1776. 

29 November: Congress appointed 5-man Secret Committee of Correspondence to develop foreign ties and support-embryo of Department of State. 

2 December: First of General Montgomery’s troops joined Arnold’s at Point aux Trembles and combined patriot force of 800 effectives began siege of Quebec, a well-fortified city defended by 1,800 British regulars and British and French-Canadian militia. 

9 December: Lord Dunmore sent force of 400 or so, half British regulars, to intercept patriot force advancing on Norfolk, Virginia. In rashly attacking instead of defending crossing at Great Bridge, Virginia, British forces suffered 62 casualties as against one patriot slightly wounded, and were completely routed in this first military action of war in Virginia. 

10 December: Connecticut men in Washington’s Army, enlisted only until this date, departed for home, emphasizing Washington’s problem in enlisting an adequate army. 

13 December: After action at Great Bridge, Norfolk, Virginia, was occupied by patriots. 

13 December: Congress authorized construction of thirteen ships five 32’s, five 28’s, and three 24’s–for Continental Navy. 

22 December: Parliament passed Prohibitory Act, interdicting foreign trade and intercourse with thirteen revolting colonies. 

31 December: With enlistments expiring, Montgomery and Arnold led 800 patriots in desperate and unsuccessful attack on Quebec, Canada (Quebec Campaign), during blinding snowstorm in early morning hours of New Year. Montgomery was killed and Arnold wounded among 60 patriots killed and wounded and 426 captured. British lost 5 killed and 13 wounded.

GOTO: American Revolution: Major Events 1776

SOURCE: War of the American Revolution BY: Robert W. Coakley & Steton Conn (United States Army Center of Military History)
CONTRIBUTOR: Frances Thompson


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