The American Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence, was the military part of the American Revolution, the struggle of the United States to achieve independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Beginning in 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the war was initially characterized by a general Patriot defeat, interspersed with few victories. The British recaptured Boston and New York, although they were forced to retreat from the former after the Battle of Bunker Hill. King George III, himself of German descent, called in Hessian mercenaries to help suppress the revolt. These soldiers were ambushed and soundly defeated in the Battle of Princeton. In 1776, the First Continental Congress, composed of delegates from most of the colonies, met in Philadelphia to produce a petition for King George III. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified, and on August 2 it was signed. Additionally, George Washington was made the general of the new Continental Army.
After the Battle of Saratoga, a heavy defeat for the British, the French decided to join the American cause. The tide of the war turned around when French, and Prussian allies arrived to support the Revolution and help train soldiers. The British plan to go down the Hudson River valley and divide the colonies in half was bogged down, and general British unpreparedness resulted in a decisive victory for the Patriots at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. General Charles Cornwallis and his army were stranded on the Yorktown peninsula, unable to get help due to a French naval blockade. After many weeks they were forced to surrender, ending the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Victory a Yorktown reinvigorated Patriot morale and made Washington a hero. Several small battles followed, mostly in the southern colonies, and by 1783 the British had decided that it was too costly to continue the war. Delegates from both sides met in Paris that year, and the Treaty of Paris was signed, giving the United States of America independence, land up to the Mississippi River, and fishing rights off of Newfoundland. The American Revolution inspired similar independence struggles throughout the Americas.