The war in the West took place along the frontier, west of the Appalachian Mountains, and involved Native Americans. They often helped the British by raiding American settlements.
George Rogers Clark went west to end the attacks. In July 1778, he and 175 soldiers took the British post at Kaskaskia in present-day Illinois and then captured the town of Vincennes in present-day Indiana.
The British recaptured Vincennes under Henry Hamilton in December. In February Clark and his troops surprised the British and forced Hamilton to surrender. This victory helped strengthen the western position.
Why did more of the Native Americans help the British, not the Patriots? (Answers will vary, but students should discuss the idea that the Native Americans may have felt that the British could have helped them in their struggles against the Americans.)
II. Glory at Sea (Pages 178-179)
The British had a powerful navy and thus were able to wage battles at sea. They blockaded American harbors, preventing ships from entering or leaving ports. This effectively cut off supplies and reinforcements from getting to the troops.
The American Navy was too weak to fight the British, so they used privateers. Privateers were privately owned merchant ships with weapons. The privateers attacked the British ships. Congress authorized approximately 2,000 ships to sail as privateers.
John Paul Jones became a naval hero as a result of his battle near the coast of Great Britain in September 1779. The battle involved his ship, the Bonhomme Richard,and the British warship Serapis. After more than three hours of battle, the Serapis surrendered. The Bonhomme Richard sank because it was so badly damaged.
How were the privateers successful against the powerful British Navy? (The privateers were experienced sailors used to the seas. They were in it for the profit, so they were motivated to attack and capture British vessels.)
III. Struggles in the South (Pages 179-182)
By 1778 the British saw that it would be difficult to unite the American colonies back into their empire. They concentrated their efforts in the South, which had many Loyalists.
In late 1778 the British occupied Savannah, Georgia, and took over most of the state. In 1780 General Henry Clinton himself went to attack Charles Town, South Carolina. In May Charles Town surrendered. It was the worst defeat for the Americans during the war.
General Charles Cornwallis remained in the South as commander of the British forces. The British scored another victory at Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780.
The Patriots used guerrilla warfare to catch the British off guard. Frances Marion was one of the successful guerrilla leaders of eastern South Carolina.
The Patriots were victorious at Kings Mountain in central North Carolina in September 1780. They forced the British to retreat.
Another battle at Cowpens, South Carolina, saw the British defeated in January 1781. In March the Continental commander Nathaniel Greene met General Cornwallis's army at Guilford Courthouse in present-day Greensboro, North Carolina. Greene's army retreated, and even Cornwallis's troops ended the battle. They suffered many losses, so Cornwallis abandoned the campaign to take North Carolina.
In April 1781, the Cornwallis troops decided to march north to Virginia, carrying out raids and nearly capturing Governor Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature in June. Cornwallis set up camp at Yorktown, Virginia.
George Washington sent Lafayette and General Anthony Wayne to fight Cornwallis. The battle for the South was almost over, but the war was at a point where each side needed a victory to win.
Why was guerrilla warfare used in the South?
There was open land and fewer towns and cities in the South, the trees and brush and swamps of the South were good hiding places for the troops. They could attack and then quickly disappear. This made up for the disadvantage in size between the Patriot troops and the British.
Did You Know? Naval hero John Paul Jones is considered to be one of the founders of the United States Navy. He was the first person to hoist the new American flag on a warship. In 1778 Jones sailed into a French bay and exchanged gun salutes with a French ship. This was the first time the United States flag was officially recognized by a foreign government.