THE WEST. - After Great Britain obtained from France the country between the mountains and the Mississippi, the British king, as we have seen (p. 143), forbade settlement west of the mountains. But the westward movement of population was not to be stopped by a proclamation. The hardy frontiersmen gave it no heed, and, passing over the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, they hunted, trapped, and made settlements in the forbidden land.

TENNESSEE. - Thus, in 1769, William Bean of North Carolina built a cabin on the banks of the Watauga Creek and began the settlement of what is now Tennessee. The next year James Robertson and many others followed and dotted the valleys of the Holston and the Clinch with clearings and log cabins. These men at first were without government of any sort, so they formed an association and for some years governed themselves; but in 1776 their delegates were seated in the legislature of North Carolina, and next year their settlements were organized as Washington county in that state. Robertson soon (1779) led a colony further west and on the banks of the Cumberland founded Nashboro, now called Nashville.

KENTUCKY. - The year (1769) that Bean went into Tennessee, Daniel Boone, one of the great men of frontier history, entered what is now Kentucky. Others followed, and despite Indian wars and massacres, Boonesboro, Harrodsburg, and Lexington were founded before 1777. These backwoodsmen also were for a time without any government; but in December, 1776, Virginia organized the region as a county with the present boundaries of Kentucky. [1]

GEORGE ROGERS CLARK. - In the country north of the Ohio were a few old French towns, - Detroit, Kaskaskia, Vincennes, - and a few forts built by the French and garrisoned by the British, from whom the Indians obtained guns and powder to attack the frontier. Against these forts and villages George Rogers Clark, a young Virginian, planned an expedition which was approved by Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia. Henry could give him little aid, but Clark was determined to go; and in 1778, with one hundred and eighty men, left Pittsburg in boats, floated down the Ohio to its mouth, marched across the swamps and prairies of south-western Illinois, and took Kaskaskia.

Vincennes [2] thereupon surrendered; but was soon recaptured by the British general at Detroit with a band of Indians. But Clark, after a dreadful march across country in midwinter, attacked the fort in the dead of night, captured it, and then conquered the country near the Wabash and Illinois rivers, and held it for Virginia. [3]

SPAIN IN THE WEST. - The conquest was most timely; for in 1779 Spain joined in the war against Great Britain, seized towns and British forts in Florida, and in January, 1781, sent out from St. Louis a band of Spaniards and Indians who marched across Illinois and took possession of Fort St. Joseph in what is now southwestern Michigan, occupied it, and claimed the Northwest for Spain.

THE SOUTH INVADED. - Near the end of 1778, the British armies held strong positions at New York and Newport, and the French fleet under D'Estaing was in the West Indies. The British therefore felt free to strike a blow at the South. A fleet and army accordingly sailed from New York and (December 29, 1778) captured Savannah. Georgia was then overrun, was declared conquered, and the royal governor was reestablished in office. [4]

THE AMERICANS REPULSED AT SAVANNAH. - Governor Rutledge of South Carolina now appealed to D'Estaing, who at once brought his fleet from the West Indies; and Savannah was besieged by the American forces under Lincoln and the French under D'Estaing. After a long siege, an assault was made on the British defenses (October, 1779), in which the brave Pulaski was slain and D'Estaing was wounded. The French then sailed away, and Lincoln fell back into South Carolina.

BRITISH CAPTURE CHARLESTON. - Hearing of this, Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis sailed with British troops from New York (December, 1779) to Savannah. Thence the British marched overland to Charleston. Lincoln did all he could to defend the city, but in May, 1780, was compelled to surrender. South Carolina was then overrun by the British, and Clinton returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis in command.

PARTISAN LEADERS. - South Carolina now became the seat of a bitter partisan war. The Tories there clamored for revenge. That no man should be neutral, Cornwallis ordered everyone to declare for or against the king, and sent officers with troops about the state to enroll the royalists in the militia. The whole population was thus arrayed in two hostile parties. The patriots could not offer organized opposition; but little bands of them found refuge in the woods, swamps, and mountain valleys, whence they issued to attack the British troops and the Tories. Led by Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion whom the British called the Swamp Fox, they won many desperate fights. [5]

CAMDEN. - Congress, however, had not abandoned the South. Two thousand men under De Kalb were marching south before the surrender of Charleston. After it, a call for troops was made on all the states south of Pennsylvania, and General Gates, then called "the Hero of Saratoga," was sent to join De Kalb and take command. The most important point in the interior of South Carolina was Camden, and against this Gates marched his troops. But he managed matters so badly that near Camden the American army was beaten, routed, and cut to pieces by the British under Cornwallis (August 16, 1780). [6]

THE WAR IN THE NORTH. - What meantime had happened in the North? The main armies near New York had done little fighting; but the British had made a number of sudden raids on the coast. In 1779 Norfolk and Portsmouth in Virginia, and New Haven and several other towns in Connecticut had been attacked, and ships and houses burned. In New York, Clinton captured Stony Point; but Anthony Wayne led a force of Americans against the fort, and at dead of night, by one of the most brilliant assaults in the world's military history, recaptured it (July, 1779). [7]

TREASON OF ARNOLD. - Stony Point was one of several forts built by order of Washington to defend the Hudson. The chief fort was at West Point, the command of which, in July, 1780, was given to Arnold. When the British left Philadelphia in 1778, Arnold was made military commander there, and so conducted himself that he was sentenced by court-martial to be reprimanded by Washington. This censure, added to previous unfair treatment by Congress, led him to seek revenge in the ruin of his country. To bring this about he asked for the command of West Point, and having received it, offered to surrender the fort to the British.

Clinton's agent in the matter was Major John André (an'dra), who one day in September, 1780, came up the river in the British ship Vulture, went ashore, and at night met Arnold near Stony Point. Morning came before the terms [8] of surrender were arranged, and the Vulture having been fired on dropped down the river out of range.

WEST POINT SAVED. - Thus left within the American lines, André crossed the river to the east shore, and started for New York by land, but was stopped by three Americans, [9] searched, and papers of great importance were found in his stockings. Despite an offer of his watch and money for his release, André was delivered to the nearest American officer, was later tried by court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged as a spy.

The American officer to whom André was delivered, not suspecting Arnold, sent the news to him as well as to Washington. Arnold received the message first; knowing that Washington was at hand, he at once procured a boat, was rowed down the river to the Vulture, and escaped. From then till the end of the war he served as an officer in the British army.

The disasters at Charleston and Camden, and the narrow escape from disaster at West Point, made 1780 the most disheartening year of the war.

KINGS MOUNTAIN. - But the tide quickly turned. After his victory at Camden, Cornwallis began to invade North Carolina, and sent Colonel Ferguson into the South Carolina highlands to enlist all the Tories he could find. As Ferguson advanced into the hill country, the backwoodsmen and mountaineers rallied from all sides, and led by Sevier, Shelby, and Williams, surrounded him and forced him to make a stand on the summit of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780. Fighting in true Indian fashion from behind every tree and rock, they shot Ferguson's army to pieces, killed him, and forced the few survivors to surrender. This victory forced Cornwallis to put off his conquest of North Carolina.

COWPENS. - General Greene was now sent to replace Gates in command of the patriot army in the South. He was too weak to attack Cornwallis, but by dividing his army and securing the aid of the partisan bands he hoped to annoy the British with raids. Morgan, who commanded one of these divisions, was so successful that Cornwallis sent Tarleton with a thousand men against him. Morgan offered battle on the grounds known as the Cowpens, and there Tarleton was routed and three fourths of his men were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners.

THE GREAT RETREAT. - This victory won, Morgan set off to join Greene, with Cornwallis himself in hot pursuit. When Greene heard the news, he determined to draw the British general far northward and then fight him wherever he would be at most disadvantage. [10] The retreat of the American army was therefore continued to the border of Virginia.

GUILFORD COURT HOUSE. - Having received reinforcements, Greene turned southward and offered battle at Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781). A desperate fight ensued, and when night came, Greene retired, leaving the British unable to follow him. Cornwallis had lost one quarter of his army in killed and wounded. He was in the midst of a hostile country, too weak to stay, and unwilling to confess defeat by retreating to South Carolina. Thus outgeneraled he hurried to Wilmington, where he could be aided by the British fleet.

Greene followed for a time, and then turned into South Carolina, drove the British out of Camden, and by the 4th of July had reconquered half of South Carolina. Late in August, he forced the British back to Eutaw Springs, where (September 8, 1781) a desperate battle was fought. [11] The British troops held their ground, but on the following night they set off for. Charleston, where they remained until the end of the war. [12]

YORKTOWN. - From Wilmington Cornwallis marched to southeastern Virginia, where a British force under Benedict Arnold joined him. He then set off to capture Lafayette, who had been sent to defend Virginia from Arnold. But Lafayette retreated to the back country, till reinforcements came. When Cornwallis could drive him no farther, the British army retreated to the coast, and fortified itself at Yorktown.

In August Washington received word that a large French fleet under De Grasse was about to sail from the West Indies to Chesapeake Bay. He saw that the supreme moment had come. Laying aside his plan for an attack on New York, he hurried southward, marched his army to the head of Chesapeake Bay, and then took it by ships to Yorktown. [13] The French fleet was already in the bay. Some French troops had joined Lafayette, and Cornwallis was already surrounded when Washington arrived. The siege was now pressed with overwhelming force, and Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781.

END OF THE WAR. - Swift couriers carried the news to Philadelphia, where, at the dead of night, the people were roused from sleep by the watchman crying in the street, "Past two o'clock and Cornwallis is taken." In the morning Congress received the dispatches and went in solemn procession to a church to give thanks to God.

When the British prime minister, Lord North, heard the news, he exclaimed, "All is over; all is over!" The king alone remained stubborn, and for a while insisted on holding Georgia, Charleston, and New York. But his advisers in time persuaded him to yield, and (November 30, 1782) a preliminary treaty, acknowledging the independence of the United States, was signed at Paris. [14] The final treaty was not signed till September 3, 1783. [15]

In November the Continental army was disbanded, and in December, at Annapolis, where Congress was sitting, Washington formally surrendered his command, and went home to Mount Vernon. [16]


1. Despite the king's proclamation in 1763, frontiersmen soon crossed the mountains and settled in what is now Kentucky and Tennessee.

2. In the region north of the Ohio were a few British forts, some of which George Rogers Clark captured in 1778 and 1779; but Fort St. Joseph in Michigan was captured by the Spanish.

3. At the end of 1778 the British began an attack on the Southern states by capturing Savannah.

4. Georgia was then overrun. The Americans, aided by a French fleet, attacked Savannah and were repulsed (1779).

5. In 1780, reënforced by a fleet and army from New York, the British captured Charleston and overran South Carolina. The Americans under Gates were badly beaten at Camden; but a British force was destroyed at Kings Mountain.

6. In the same year Benedict Arnold turned traitor, and sought in vain to deliver West Point to the British.

7. In the following year (1781) our arms were generally victorious. Morgan won the battle of the Cowpens; Greene outgeneraled Cornwallis and then reconquered South Carolina. At the end of the year Charleston and Savannah were the only Southern towns held by the British.

8. Cornwallis marched into Virginia, and fortified himself at Yorktown. There Washington, aided by a French army and fleet, forced him to surrender (1781).

9. Peace was made next year, our independence was acknowledged, and by the end of 1783 the last British soldiers had left the country.


[1] About this time the settlers on the upper Ohio River (in what is now West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania) became eager for statehood. Both Virginia and Pennsylvania claimed their allegiance. They asked Congress, therefore, for recognition as the state of Westsylvania, the fourteenth province of the American Confederacy. Congress did not grant their prayer.

[2] Read Thompson's Alice of Old Vincennes.

[3] Farther east, meantime, a band of savages led by Colonel John Butler swept down from Fort Niagara, entered Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania, near the site of Wilkes-Barre, and perpetrated one of the most awful massacres in history (July 4, 1778). (Read Campbell's poem Gertrude of Wyoming). A little later another band, led by a son of Butler, burned the village of Cherry Valley in New York, and murdered many of the inhabitants - men, women, and children. Cruelties of this sort could not go unpunished. In the summer of 1779, therefore, General Sullivan with an army invaded the Indian country in central New York, burned forty Indian villages, destroyed their crops, cut down their fruit trees, and brought the Indians to the verge of famine.

[4] Congress now put Lincoln in command in the South; but when he marched into Georgia, the British set off to attack Charleston, sacking houses and slaughtering cattle as they went. This move forced Lincoln to follow them, and having been joined by Pulaski, he compelled the British to retreat.

[5] Four novels by Simms, - The Partisan, Mellichampe, Katharine Walton, and The Scout, - and Horseshoe Robinson, by Kennedy, are famous stories relating to the Revolution in the South. Read Bryant's Song of Marion's Men.

[6] A large number of men were killed, and a thousand taken prisoners. Among the dead was De Kalb. Among the living was Gates, who fled among the first and made such haste to escape that he covered two hundred miles in four days.

[7] The purpose of the attack on Stony Point was to draw the British from Connecticut. The capture had the desired result, and Stony Point was then abandoned. The fort stood on a rocky promontory with the water of the Hudson River on three sides. On the fourth was a morass crossed by a narrow road which at high tide was under water. The country between the British forces in New York and the American army on the highlands of the Hudson was known as the neutral ground, and is the scene of Cooper's great novel The Spy.

[8] The British were to come up the river and attack West Point. Arnold was to man the defenses in such a way that they could easily be taken, one at a time, and so afford an excuse for surrendering them, with the three thousand men under Arnold's command.

[9] The names of André's captors were John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart. Congress gave each a medal and a pension for life.

[10] To accomplish this Greene sent the greater part of his army northward under General Huger, while he with a small guard hurried across country, and took command of Morgan's army. And now a most exciting chase began. Cornwallis destroyed his heavy baggage that he might move as rapidly as possible, and vainly strove to get near enough to Greene to make him fight. Greene with great skill kept just out of reach and for ten days lured the British farther and farther north. At Guilford Court House Greene and Morgan were joined by the main army. Cornwallis then proclaimed North Carolina conquered, and called on all Loyalists to join him.

[11] Two good works relating to these events are The Forayers and Eutaw, by Simms.

[12] While these things were happening in the South, a French army of 6000 men under Rochambeau arrived at Newport (1780), from which the British had withdrawn in 1779. There, for a while, the French fleet was blockaded by the British, and the troops remained to aid the fleet in case of necessity. The next year, however, this army marched across Connecticut and joined Washington's forces (July, 1781), and preparations were begun for an attack on New York.

[13] When Clinton realized that Washington was on the way to Yorktown, he sent Arnold on a raid into Connecticut, in hope of forcing Washington to return. Early in September Arnold attacked New London, carried one of its forts by storm, and set tire to the town, but was driven off by the minutemen.

[14] Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin (our minister in France), John Adams (in Holland), John Jay (in Spain), Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Laurens to negotiate the treaty. Jefferson's appointment came too late for him to serve; the other four signed the treaty of 1782, and Franklin, Adams, and Jay signed the treaty of 1783.

[15] After the surrender of Cornwallis, Washington returned with his army to the Hudson and made his headquarters at Newburgh. In April, 1783, a cessation of war on land and sea was formally proclaimed, and the British prepared to leave New York. Charleston and Savannah were evacuated in 1782, but November 25, 1783, came before the last British soldier left New York. When the troops under Washington entered New York city, they found a British flag nailed to the staff, the halyards gone, and the staff soaped. A sailor climbed the pole by nailing on cleats, pulled down the British flag, and reeved new halyards. The stars and stripes were then raised and saluted with thirteen guns.

[16] Washington refused to be paid for his services. Actual expenses during the war were all he would take, and these amounted to about $70,000.