How did the Americans sustain the Revolution between 1776 and 1778?
Militarily, the Americans sustained the Revolution during this period by avoiding the destruction of the Continental Army and taking advantage of British military blunders. While the army under Washington suffered significant tactical and strategic setbacks, including a series of defeats that led to the loss of New York City, Washington avoided encirclement and destruction, and even managed to inflict a few defeats on the British army. The army under Washington also held up under enormous strain in winter camp at Valley Forge, maintaining battle fitness despite enormous losses due to disease and desertion. In 1777, a large British force blundered into encircelment and was forced to surrender at Saratoga, a battle which is often pointed to as the turning point in the war as it persuaded the French to provide military support to the rebels.
The American population was far more divided over the Revolution than popular memory suggests, and the Continental Congress was forced to require quotas of soldiers (most of which were never met). States responsed by instituting drafts, which were conducted from militia companies. Many states also vigorously suppressed dissent, fining and imprisoning vocal opponents of the Revolution, and they also were forced to requisition supplies. Local farmers were forced to give up portions of their crops, their animals, and other materials in return for Continental paper or promissary notes. The Continental Congress sought to finance the Revolution with loans from European nations.