Most of my readers are Americans, and so have probably heard about a little dust-up that the Colonial Americans got into with Great Britain in 1776. Here in the States, we tend to refer to that little disagreement as the American Revolution.
As American children, we all learned about the Revolutionary War in school. We learned about the Boston Massacre, we learned about the Battles at Lexington & Concord, we learned about the Battle of Bunker Hill, and Washington Crossing the Delaware, many of us even learned that the Battle of Saratoga (in 1777) was the pivotal moment in the war.
Most of what we were taught about the American Revolution is absolute garbage.
Let me tell you where the American was decided: In the southern states. Yes, most Americans don't realize that the most pivotal battles of the American Revolution... the ones that militarily decided the outcome of the war, were fought in The Carolinas and Virginia.
During the early years of the war, the British figured that the way to get those obstreperous Yankees back in line would be to control the principal American cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The strategy was effective, but since the British weren't able to completely wreck Washington's Army in the field, stronger measures were needed.
The British sent an entire army under General John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne, from Canada, to find and rout the rebel Americans in New York state, but after the defeat and surrender of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga, in 1777, the British abandoned that strategy and decided to fight in the south because there was much less revolutionary fervor there, especially in South Carolina.
The war in the south was a particularly bloody affair, with many pitched battles between not only the American and British armies, but between patriot and loyalist militia's that spent a great deal of time marauding and destroying the homes, crops, and livestock of their neighbors who supported the "wrong" side. The battle of King's Mountain was such an affair. This bloody battle was fought entirely between patriot and loyalist militias.
The British captured Charleston in May of 1780 (two of my ancestors...one was a direct ancestor) were captured with the 1st South Carolina Cavalry), then began operating in earnest. Here is where it gets interesting!
The British would have had their way in South Carolina had it not been for the particular effectiveness of hit and run (insurgent) warfare conducted by Francis Marion, who later became known as the "Swamp Fox" for his ability to hit the British forces, and disappear into the murk swamps, before British firepower could be decisively brought to bear.
In August of 1780, General Horatio Gates (a retired British officer) was in command of the American forces during the disastrous Battle of Camden, after which he was replaced by General Nathaniel Greene, who was smart enough to know that he didn't have to beat the British to win, all he had to do as keep fighting from time to time without destroying his army as he did.
In January of 1781, the British were decisively beaten at the battle of The Cow Pens. Continental troops and local militia practically destroyed the Cavalry/Dragoon Brigade of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. The effect of the battle was that the people of the Carolina back-country saw that the British could be beaten in the field, causing them to much more fully support patriot efforts. The tide was turning.
In March of 1781, the British won what history calls a "victory" over the Continentals and militia at the battle of Guilford Courthouse (Greensboro, North Carolina). The victory was so costly for the British, that their combat power in the southern states was broken. They abandoned the Carolina's and went into defensive positions around Yorktown, Virginia.
General George Washington, whose northern armies were girding themselves to dislodge the British from their strong defense in New York city, was informed of the retreat of Lord Cornwallis' troops to Yorktown. He was also aware of the fact that the French Admiral, Le Comte De Grasse was sailing with a strong squadron to the Virginia capes to support an attack by the Americans. Washington, along with the French commander, Le Comte De Rochambeau, marched their combined armies south to Yorktown, and laid siege to Cornwallis' army.
The French navy, having beaten the British at the battle of the capes, prevented Cornwallis' army from being evacuated from Yorktown, sealed the fate of the British forces. Withstanding constant artillery barrages, Cornwallis knew that his position was untenable. He also knew that no relief was coming. He was beaten.
Cornwallis' proud army was forced to capitulate, and march out of Yorktown to the place now known as "the surrender field" and lay down their arms, artillery*, drums, and colors.
With the surrender of British forces in the south, the British, although still strong in New York, knew that the time for negotiating had come. Major combat operations in the American War for Independence came to a halt.
Mission accomplished... This time, it's for real.
So, there you have it. The next time some windbag starts banging on about some northern revolutionary battle, look them in the eye and say: "Oh, sure... that battle was important, but everyone knows the the Revolution was won in the south!"
* Some of the British (and American) artillery are still sitting at the Yorktown battlefield, shamefully exposed to the weather!