Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Patriot Camp is not necessarily about the many battles 1 fought in the American Revolution. The list below is about both people and events that offer opportunities to learn. Details are left to the teaching staff to include the desired details. However, at a minimum, it is suggested that the staff review the lists themselves. There are some great stories about people who were involved in the American Revolution.

Not So Well-Known People of the Revolution

Rev. James Caldwell – The Fighting Chaplain
John Jay – First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Sybil Ludington – The Female Paul Revere
Joseph Plumb Martin – Boy soldier
Robert Morris Jr. – Financier of the American Revolution
Peter Muhlenberg – Minister, patriot and politician
Hercules Mulligan – An American Spy
James Otis Jr. – First Patriot of the Revolution
Molly Pitcher – Most notable camp follower
Caesar Rodney – Another famous night time ride
John Pulling – Raising the lanterns at Old North Church
Benjamin Rush – The first Surgeon General
Deborah Sampson – America’s first female soldier
Baron von Steuben – America’s first drill instructor
The Rattlesnake – Meaning of the Rattlesnake on our early flags
Dr. Joseph Warren – The outspoken physician
John Witherspoon – Pastor and signer
Betty Zane – Last hero of the American Revolution

Interesting Things About a Few Key Events

Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776 – George Washington crossed three times. His first crossing was to seek safety and a winter sanctuary. He then decided to cross again and attach the Hessians encamped in Trenton NJ on Christmas day. Of course, this came as a complete surprise to the Hessians who lost badly. After winning, he crossed again. There is an excellent movie called “The Crossing” that accurately portrays these events.

Battle of Long Island, New York, August 27, 1776 – Washington realized that he had put himself in a trap. He had split his troops between Manhattan and Long Island, with the Hudson River, the East River, and Long Island Sound open to British warships and transport. Unfavorable winds and rains kept Admiral Howe from taking advantage of this opportunity to cut Washington off. Rain continued to be intermittent the next day, August 29. Washington realized his position was untenable and it was time to withdraw. The seagoing soldiers of John Glover’s Marblehead [Massachusetts] Regiment noiselessly ferried Washington’s troops across the East River to Manhattan on the night of August 29. Darkness, fog, and bad weather immobilized Admiral Howe’s fleet Washington’s army lived to fight another day.

Valley Forge, Winter of 1777–78 – Valley Forge was the military camp 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia where the American Continental Army spent the winter of 1777–78 during the American Revolutionary War. Starvation, disease, malnutrition, and exposure killed more than 2,500 American soldiers by the end of February 1778. Life of a soldier was very hard. You can find excellent historical material in the diary of Joseph Plumb Martin, a young 15-year-old minister’s son who joined the Revolution and fought through the entire war. His description of the suffering is without political bias. Valley Forge is why the statement “Freedom is not Free” is true.

Monmouth Courthouse, June 28, 1778 – This would be the first battle after wintering in Valley Forge. Baron Von Steuben, America’s first drill Sargent had trained a militia to become a Continental Army. The day was very hot, almost 100 degrees F. While British troops were required to where their full wool uniforms and equipment, Washington would release his men of that requirement. This alone save many from succumbing to heat exhaustion. While in this battle, Washington failed to destroy the British, he had inflicted damage to their troops, and proven that Americans can stand against the regulars, without the advantage of surprise. The British were unable to defeat the Americans in open battle. Since the Americans held the field and they claimed the victory. Since the British were only defending their baggage train, not looking for a battle, they too claimed victory. Both sides lost about 350 men in killed, wounded or captured and both sides lost men heavily due to heat exhaustion. This event demonstrated that George Washington was flexible and creative, often winning battles by not following the conventional rules of war. After Monmouth, the fighting involved secondary forces (though still large forces), as the war shifted to the southern colonies.

During the battle, a woman known today as Molly Pitcher, a camp follower who brought water to the troops from a nearby spring, took over her husband’s place (John Hayes) at a cannon when he was wounded. Under fire, and loosing men, the artillery unit was going to fall back until she volunteered to take his place. Bravely she served the cannon in her husband’s place.

The Battle of Camden, August 16, 1780 – Not all battles went the way of the American Troops. The Battle of Camden was a major victory for the British in the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War. On August 16, 1780, British forces under Lieutenant General Lord Charles Cornwallis routed the American forces of Major General Horatio Gates about six miles north of Camden, South Carolina, strengthening the British hold on the Carolinas.

The Camden Battlefield, located about 5 miles north of Camden, is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and is undergoing preservation in a private-public partnership. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Aspects of the battle were included in the 2000 movie The Patriot, in which Ben and Gabriel Martin are seen watching a similar battle. Ben comments at the stupidity of Gates fighting “muzzle to muzzle with Redcoats”. The film is not historically accurate, depicting too many Continental troops relative to the number of militia, and that the Continentals and militia retreated at the same time. This would be a good opportunity to discuss that you cannot always believe a “movie.”

The Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781 – Cowpens is often viewed as a turning point for the Patriots. It was a decisive victory by American Revolutionary forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War. Morgan’s army took 712 prisoners, which included 200 wounded. Even worse for the British, the forces lost, especially the British Legion and the dragoons, constituted the cream of Cornwallis’ army. Additionally, 110 British soldiers were killed in action. Tarleton suffered an 86% casualty rate, and his brigade had been all but wiped out as a fighting force. An American prisoner later told that when Tarleton reached Cornwallis and reported the disaster, Cornwallis placed his sword tip on the ground and leaned on it until the blade snapped.

Tarleton’s apparent recklessness in pushing his command so hard in pursuit of Morgan that they reached the battlefield in desperate need of rest and food may be explained by the fact that, up until Cowpens, every battle that he and his British Legion had fought in the South had been a relatively easy victory. He appears to have been so concerned with pursuing Morgan that he quite forgot that it was necessary for his men to be in a fit condition to fight a battle once they caught him.

The Battle of Yorktown, October 9, 1781 – The Siege of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by General Comte de Rochambeau the British Army commanded by General Lord Cornwallis. It proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, as the surrender of Cornwallis’s army prompted the British government eventually to negotiate an end to the American Revolution.
In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to try to help their American allies in assaulting British-occupied New York City. This help was due to the negotiating skills of Ben Franklin, who went to France seeking assistance for the colonies. The two armies met North of New York City in 1781. The French Commander, Rochambeau convinced Washington, that it would be easier for the French Fleet to assist in the attack further south, because he was to bring the French Fleet into the Caribbean in October. Both men agreed to attack Lord Cornwallis and his smaller army of 9,000 men which was stationed in the port town of Yorktown, Virginia. In the beginning of September, the French defeated a British Fleet that had come to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake, blocking any escape by sea for Cornwallis. Washington had dispatched the French general Marquis de Lafayette to contain Cornwallis in Yorktown until he arrived, and Lafayette did so. By late September the army and naval forces had surrounded Cornwallis by land and by sea.

The Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. This was a tactic used to dig trenches and move mortars closer to Yorktown. Once the British defense was weakened, Washington, on October 14, 1781, sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. The British situation began to deteriorate quickly, and Cornwallis asked for surrender terms on the 17th. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on the 19th. With the capture of over 8,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Hands-On Opportunity

Brown Bess Musket

There is a challenge here to bring the actual war and place it into the hands of the students. This should be both age dependent and location dependent. For example, churches and home schools will typically allow for the display of flintlocks, tomahawks, knives, etc. All important to understanding the difficulty of war in the late 1700’s. Please remember that a “Brown Bess” musket or a flintlock rifle were the assault weapons of the American Revolution. Without them, our colonies would not have gained their freedom. That is the express reason for the 2nd amendment. For this Hands-On experience, it is suggested that a reenactor group or muzzle loading club be contacted to provide rifles, pistols and edge weapons of the period. These should be for display only and not for play.

The soldier’s life was hard, they did not have many supplies. Tents, when available were small, five men to 7 feet by 10 feet and 7 feet at the peak. They were simple wedge tents made of thin canvas. Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, wet in the rain. Any cooking utensils such as fire pits, pots, pans help students understand the difficulty of camp life. Here are some suggestions to bring a soldier’s life alive:

  • Canvas Military Tents

    Set up a campsite. You need a white canvas tent and it should be small. Check with Panther Primitives for an entire line of period correct tents and accoutrements.

  • Start a fire with flint and steel. No matches please. This was the only way to cook or keep warm in the 18th century.
  • Cook a meal on an open fire. Stew cooked in a cast iron kettle, a roast cooked on a spit, represent how a soldier ate. Even before a food supply system was organized, on June 10, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Council 2set the daily allowance or ration for its troops in Boston as:
    • One pound of bread
    • Half a pound of beef and half a pound of pork; and if pork cannot be had, one pound and a quarter of beef; and one day in seven they shall have one pound and one quarter of salt fish, instead of one day’s allowance of meat
    • One pint of milk, or if milk cannot be had, one gill [half a cup] of rice
    • One quart of good spruce or malt beer
    • One gill of peas or beans, or other sauce equivalent
    • Six ounces of good butter per week
    • One pound of good common soap for six men per week
    • Half a pint of vinegar per week per man, if it can be had.

Bring to the student’s attention that there are no snacks, no candy, no chips, no cookies, no pastries, no ice cream, no fruit and probably to the delight of many, very few vegetables.

Like Joseph Plumb Martin, the young soldier who kept a diary, let the students keep a diary through their Patriot Camp. This provides an opportunity to practice some journalism skills. As a craft, let them create a journal. Two pieces of leather, pages, a leather tie, make a quick book to keep notes in.

Learning Opportunity

Military life is about sacrifice and risk. If you have time, there is an excellent movie entitled “The Crossing.” The Crossing is a 2000 historical TV film about George Washington crossing the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton, directed by Robert Harmon. Based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast, it stars Jeff Daniels as George Washington. Also appearing in the film are Roger Rees as Hugh Mercer, Sebastian Roche as John Glover and Steven McCarthy as Alexander Hamilton. The movie is realistic, historically accurate and will give the students an excellent view of what the war was like.

The Treaty of Paris – September 3, 1783

Treaty of Paris Seals

The Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783 by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America. This technically ended the American Revolutionary War. The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States and included details of fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war.

This treaty and the separate peace treaties between Great Britain and the nations that supported the American cause — France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic — are known collectively as the Peace of Paris. Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States’ existence as free sovereign and independent states, remains in force today.

Did God Help Us Win?

This is an interesting question that is often discussed. While there are many unexplained events that favored the Patriots, here are a few that benefited our Commander in Chief. Our first chief, George Washington, had little or no formal education, George Washington had a less than stellar record in the military. He had overseen Fort Necessity and lost it quickly to the French. He had never led an army in battle, never commanded anything larger than a regiment. And never had directed a siege. George Washington would be idle for 15 years before he again assumed the role of Commander in Chief. Yet, time after time, God would stand with him. George Washington believed that America had a covenant with God. Here are just a few examples of God’s protection of our first chief and of our cause for freedom:

  • In July of 1775, an unprepared Washington came to retake Boston. The battle would be at Breed’s Hill. As our troops made ready for their assault, the British just abandoned Boston. Had the battle ensued, Washington would have lost. The American troops were no match for the British troops on that day.
  • Then there was the battle of New York. In April of 1776, Washington prepared to defend the city. Outflanked by the British, our troops were on the verge of collapse when the decision was made to retreat. But the route across the Hudson River was open water and the British navy was on guard. On the night of August 29th, a fog covered Long Island and covered Washington’s escape. Our army survived to fight another day.
  • Not long after a victory at Trenton, Washington was camped near the town of Saratoga. The British General John Burgoyne prepared to attack. However, Burgoyne was encumbered by his spoils of war, such as the stolen fine china he carried with him and a large entourage of prostitutes for his pleasure. Washington repeatedly condemned such behavior because he believed that the Americans were fighting under a covenant with God. Could this have been a factor in the surprising defeat of Burgoyne in October of 1777?
  • General Cornwallis was pursuing Nathaniel Greene’s troops in the southern colonies. Yet at three times, a night storm would flood a river and stop Cornwallis at the banks just after Greene and his troops crossed. Would you call three perfectly timed storms protecting our patriots a coincidence?
  • To end our revolution at Yorktown, God sent the French navy and Lafayette, to block Cornwallis’ retreat by ship. The British navy, coming to free Cornwallis, would be stopped by the French at the Battle of Capes. The British navy re-provisioned and tried again, only to be blocked by a storm that kept them in New York. With Washington’s troops winning the siege at Yorktown, Cornwallis would try a nighttime retreat, only to be blocked by a nighttime storm. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered.
Hands-On Opportunity

George Washington

This is a good place to introduce students to George Washington. Pictures are relatively easy to find. Washington’s pictures have one thing in common, he never smiles. Why? It could be the poor condition of his teeth. How much history you wish to include on our first commander in chief and first president is up to you. George Washington documented much of the Revolution through letters and notes. All retained and archived for posterity. His leadership style was firm, but you could always find him in the front.

Learning Opportunity

Washington’s record of military leadership began in the French and Indian War, a conflict he helped ignite. While his eagerness, ambition, and lack of experience got him into trouble (such as at Fort Necessity), other qualities emerged 3:

Toughness – Washington was a rugged frontiersman from an early age. He endured hardship on the frontier.

Persistence – Most people would have pursued another career after the losses at Fort Necessity. George Washington did just the opposite, pursuing further military experience.

Organization – Following Braddock’s defeat, Washington was sent to western Virginia to protect citizens from Indian attack. Though these years were frustrating for him, Washington had to contend, on a regular basis, with matters of supply, morale, discipline, and communication. He developed critical experience in organizing and managing troops.

Incredible bravery – Washington repeatedly exposed himself to danger. At one-point Washington charged his horse between lines of his own men who were mistakenly firing at one another. During Braddock’s infamous march and defeat, Washington was among the only mounted officers to emerge unscathed. Four bullet holes in his uniform and two dead horses were ample testimony to his courage and providential protection.

This is an excellent place to discuss the characteristics of leadership, whether it be military, government or simply being a parent.

The Final Debt

The American Revolutionary War inflicted great financial costs on all the combatants, including the United States of America, France, Spain and Great Britain. France and Great Britain spent 1.3 billion livres and 250 million pounds, respectively. The United States spent $400 million (About $3 billion in today’s dollars) in wages for its troops. In lives [ ], over 8,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from wounds inflicted during battle. 17,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from disease during the war. 25,000 Revolutionary Soldiers were estimated to have been wounded or maimed. 1 in 20 able bodied white free males living in America died during the war. More than 11,000 American prisoners died on British prison ships. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 5 signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Next Section: Formation of a Government

Share