What were some strategies used by the British in the Revolutionary War?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first British strategy was to use its navy to its fullest capacity. The British navy moved troops along the coast and ensured that the colonists would not receive outside aid. Another British strategy was the use of Hessian mercenaries, but this largely backfired as the colonists resented facing troops...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The first British strategy was to use its navy to its fullest capacity. The British navy moved troops along the coast and ensured that the colonists would not receive outside aid. Another British strategy was the use of Hessian mercenaries, but this largely backfired as the colonists resented facing troops who were considered cruel by many. Also, many Hessian mercenaries were not as loyal to the British cause as Parliament hoped.

The British navy also wrecked the colonial whaling industry, one of the key employers of the Northeast. Another strategy was isolating New England, as that was considered the hotbed of independence. The British occupied New York, one of the most prosperous colonial cities. The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga was part of a campaign in New York's Hudson River Valley that ultimately led to France joining the war and threatening the British navy's dominance.

The British strategy in the South backfired. Up to that point, many in the South believed the war to be a New England issue. Fearing slave uprising, many in the South took up arms to assist the cause of independence. At the Battle of Yorktown, Cornwallis surrendered his force when faced with a colonial army and cut off from aid by the French navy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first British strategy in the Revolutionary War was that of containment. As the fervor of the revolution began in the New England colonies, the British felt that an isolation of the northeast would prevent its spread. The staple of this strategy was the capture of the Hudson River.

The second strategy of the British was to claim New York, which they did, and create a barrier in the Hudson River Valley. However, the southern element of the British army chose to move toward Philadelphia. This led to the Battle of Saratoga, a crushing defeat for the British in 1777. Moreover, France saw this win as a turning point in the war and decided to support the colonies. This forced the British to reexamine their general strategy and focus on the south.

The third British strategy was to unite with English loyalists, or Tories, in the south. This strategy seemed to pay off at first, with convincing wins at Savannah and Charleston. However, another element of this strategy proved to be devastating to the British cause. Cruel tactics by British forces convinced those on the fence to lean toward the side of the patriots.

The southern strategy for the British failed because of the uprising of the militia. British General Lord Cornwallis eventually led his troops to Yorktown, Virginia, in a fruitless attempt at chasing the American army. The siege at Yorktown led to the end of the war and another failed British strategy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The British had several strategies during the Revolutionary War. One strategy was to blockade our coast. The British used their navy to prevent supplies and materials from entering and leaving the colonies. The British hoped this would weaken the colonies and make it harder for the colonists to be successful in the Revolutionary War.

The British also wanted to isolate the New England colonies from the rest of the colonies. The British planned to have three of their armies meet near Albany, New York. The British hoped to defeat the colonial army and cut off the New England colonies from the rest of the colonies. Unfortunately for the British, this plan didn’t work for many reasons.

The British also wanted to move the fighting to the South after failing to isolate the New England colonies. The British knew there were more loyalists in the South. Thus, they would have more support. Plus, the British had to defend all of the colonial areas. Moving the fighting to the South was part of their strategy.

For a variety of reasons, the British strategies failed to work. Poor military leadership, foreign aid to the colonists, and a very determined colonial army were some of the reasons for the failure of the British strategies in the Revolutionary War.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team