The American war became an epic struggle for independence from British rule. It pitted Britain – the world’s greatest sea force – against a mixed group of American colonists who had no premeditated plan or unified goal when war broke out. However, as time went on and the British failed to deliver significant victories, the American ‘Patriots’, led by George Washington gained in motivation, determination, and organisation.

The British faced enormous logistical and strategic dilemmas, trying to forcibly subdue an armed rebellion while pacifying and conciliating the colonial population. Other complicating factors involved the mobilisation of diverse forces fighting for the British including professional Hessian mercenaries, Native American allies, and slaves of African origin. The war was no less of a challenge for the Patriot movement, with Americans in many places bitterly divided by the war.

The determining factor in the conflict proved to be the French formally allying with the Americans, transforming what had been an internal imperial matter into a fully-fledged global war. Following a devastating defeat for the British at Yorktown in 1781, Britain finally surrendered and acknowledged American independence, ratified at the Peace of Paris in 1783, resulting in a new republican nation: the United States of America.