The American Revolutionary War, which is also referred to as the American War of Independence, was a war between thirteen British colonies and Great Britain. The war lasted from 1775 to 1783. It is important to note that it was in 1776 that the United States of America declared its independence.
It was the war in which the American colonist overthrew the rule by the British. By the year 1778 many major power in Europe joined together against Britain. An interesting aside is that while many American Indians were fighting for the British, there were many who fought on the side of America.
The colonists were not in agreement either as to who should get their support. One group, called the Revolutionaries who were also called Patriots or Americans, made up less than half of the population.
Roughly 15 to 20 percent of the colonists were supporters of Britain. This group of people was called Loyalist or Tories and after 1775 consisted of about 50 thousand men. At the end of the war, when the group's numbers were about 70 thousand, they left the United States for such places as the British colonies in the Caribbean, Britain, Canada, and even Nova Scotia.
At the beginning of the war, there was no standing, professional army or navy that the American colonist could call upon. At the time, the different colonies had to provide defenses for itself by what was called the local militia. The men in the militia, called militiamen, did not serve fill time but instead for months or even only a few weeks. Many did not even like the idea of going too far from where they live. So because of these issues and a lack of training and discipline you would think that it was hopeless. However, the sheer numbers of the militiamen were enough to overwhelm the regular troop and were very effective at suppressing the activities of the Loyalist when the British regulars were not present.
Because the British had naval superiority during this time period, they were able to occupy and capture cities on the coast throughout most of the war. However, controlling the countryside was a difficult task and for the most part was not in their grasp. But it was in the countryside where roughly 90% of the population resided.
In 1777 in Saratoga, after an American victory, the Netherlands and Spain allied with France and joined the war to fight Britain. With France involved, especially with a decisive naval victory in Chesapeake, the surrendering of the British army in Yorktown was achieved in 1781.
Soon afterwards, in the year 1783, the Treaty of Paris brought the war to an end and the United States enjoyed the status of sovereignty.