The lesson we currently finished in class was called Saratoga through Yorktown which is the second half of the Revolutionary War. Every lesson that we do in class we set a question. The essential question of this lesson was: Did the Americans win the war because they had high morale or because of a few big military victories? The goal of the lesson is to try and fully understand this question and be able to answer it when we have finished. There were many events and battles that made up the second half of the war. This means at sometimes they won and it boosted their morale and at other times they lost and the morale became very low. I think it's important to focus on the highlights and low lights when trying to answer this question because you can't just base opinions on one side of the argument. You need to understand how each piece of the war affected them and how they reacted in order to continue. Only focusing on the positive for the Americans may make the victory from our point seem easy for them. If we only focused on the Americans failing it would make us seem like they didn't deserve the victory and maybe that the British were terrible people. It is important to look at both sides because then the information is not biased and a real opinion can be formed on the whole second half of the revolutionary war.
The high morale was boosted at Saratoga. At Saratoga the British surrendered to the Americans. This was very important for the Americans because at the time they had to surrender a specific way. Each soldier from the British had to go over to the Americans and hand them their gun. The Americans were shocked and speechless as the British surrendered to them. This gave the Americans hope that they could defeat the British and they learned that the British weren't as strong as they once thought. Another event that occurred was Valley Forge. This helped the American's morale because they were able to get through the winter together. In order to survive the winter all the Americans had to work together. Although they lost some of their men due to the conditions they came out of winter stronger then they went in. They were able to train together everyday. This gave them an advantage over the British after winter because the British had been relaxing and partying all winter. One more place where the morale was lifted was at Trenton & Princeton. The Americans had kept the British from winning. Every time the British came to attack the Americans they were able to repel them. This boosted their hope because they were finally seeing that they could beat the British and weaken their forces. They were also able to outsmart the British by setting fires. This made them believe that they were actually better and more intelligent than the British. Once they won they were able to see that the British weren't as strong as they thought. The morale was also affected negatively at Charleston and Philadelphia. In Charleston the Americans had to surrender to the British. This made them feel weak and lowered their hope of defeating the British. They were also taken as prisoners and shoved on prison ships where half of them died. This made the hurt the Americans knowing that more of their men were dying prisoners rather than out on the battle field destroying the British. The Americans became very upset about losing Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the symbol of the cause of the revolution. It was where they put the philosophy of the revolution in the Declaration of Independence. This was not a good thing for the American's morale because they had just lost their main symbol of the revolution. It convinced some of the Americans that it was over and it was not worth fighting the British any longer. The morale was affected by many things however at the end of the war it began to increase maybe giving the Americans more strength to defeat the British.
Battle of Saratoga
The Americans also had big military victories and it may have lead them to win the war. One big victory was at Saratoga. This was important to win because it proved to the French the Americans were able to win against the British. The Americans needed the French for all sort of things like supplies, arms and ammunition, uniforms, and the most important thing troops. The French were able to bring in reinforcements and help Washington and his troops in Virginia. It was also very important because they defeated most of the British so the British army was not as powerful and big as they used to be. There was also the big victory at Trenton & Princeton. After a very long battle with many different confrontations the Americans had finally won. They had worked really hard in order to finally beat the British. This helped them a lot because they were able to stop the British from taking anymore control of their land. Yorktown was the biggest victory for the Americans because it was the ending of the war. The Americans were only able to win at Yorktown because of the help of the French soldiers. If they had not won at Saratoga they would not have had the help of the French and may have lost the war. The French were able to take out some of the British and act as a distraction for the Americans to move around. There was one big loss though at Charleston that hurt the Americans. At Charleston there was a siege. The British had surrounded the Americans cutting off their supplies like food. They were also bombarded with cannon fire. What was so upsetting was the sheer number of Americans taken as prisoners. Well over 5 thousand Americans became prisoners this weakened the army. They became smaller making them weaker then the British at the time. The American victories may have lead to the Americans ending the war as winners.
The big military victories were the main reason that the Americans were able to win the war. The most important event in the war was the Americans winning at Saratoga. This is pretty important because they were able to prove to the French that they were worth defending. If they had not gained the French they would have not been able to take down the British at Yorktown. The British had come after the Americans at Yorktown and the French were able to take them down. If they French had not been there to cause a distraction the Americans would not have been able to move secretly. They would have already been under attack. They were also able to storm the British at the same time. This is a huge advantage because they could come from different places and they had the numbers then to defeat the British. The Americans alone were not a big enough army to defeat the British. With the French they became bigger and the more men the stronger the army became. If the Americans would have lost at Saratoga they would have never gained the help of the French probably leading to the British winning the war. High morale may have affected the soldiers as a whole working together, but there were many more things that affected morale and it was easy to make the morale become high again. It was not easy to take back a loss and try to make it into a victory. The Americans won the war because they were able to win so many big battles.