How Well Do You Know the Revolutionary War?



By: Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: EricVega/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Following the American Revolution, most of the country was agrarian, which means the focus for most people was on producing crops and tending to their farmland. After nearly 25,000 colonists died in military service of their country, Americans were also proud not to have a large military.

But leading up to the revolution, the mood was different. More than two million people lived in the colonies up and down the East Coast during the war. Though as many as 80 percent of the two million colonists supported independence, the colonists were up against one of the most powerful and experienced—and wealthy—armies in the world when they rose up for independence. In fact, in the 100 years before, their opponent (the British Empire) was overwhelmingly victorious, even against other established and powerful nations like Spain and France.

It was Founding Father Benjamin Franklin who first regularly used the term "Patriot" in the years leading up to the revolution—and it went on to be used to describe the colonial soldiers and the colonists who backed American independence from the British Empire's monarchy. See how much you know about these Patriots, the war itself and the years directly before and after the American Revolution.

The American Revolutionary War was fought between the American colonies and what monarchy?

The British Empire established its first permanent settlement in the Americas in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607—and by 1624, it became the first of the North American colonies established by the crown.


Who ruled Britain during the American Revolutionary War?

Known as the "mad king who lost America," King George III ruled the British monarchy through the American Revolution. Until Queen Victoria, George III's reign was longer than those of any of his predecessors.


How many American colonies fought for independence from British rule?

All 13 American colonies fought for independence from Great Britain—that included Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Rhode Island.


What was the first formal military in the colonies called?

The Continental Army, established in 1775, was named after the Second Continental Congress. The first formal military in the colonies, at its peak, the Continental Army swelled to as many as 80,000 soldiers. After the war, the Congress of the Confederation replaced the Continental Army with the United States Army.


Where was "the shot heard 'round the world" fired?

Described as "the shot heard 'round the world," the battle between the minutemen and British soldiers began when shots fired on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord. It's never been clear which side fired first.


Who was the commander of the Continental Army?

Nominated by John Adams to the Second Continental Congress, George Washington became the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, appointed as general of the Continental forces in June 1775.


Because of their bright red coats, what were British soldiers nicknamed?

Because of their distinctive bright red uniforms and white breeches, the British army, mostly infantrymen, was well-known and easily spotted—and nicknamed the lobsterbacks. Alternatively, most of the Continental army wore civilian clothes.


What river did American troops cross on Christmas 1776 at Trenton, New Jersey?

It was on Christmas Day 1776 when General George Washington and his men crossed the Delaware River, capturing the soldiers waiting at Trenton. On the heels of this win, the Continental Army went on to defeat the British at Princeton.


After the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, Britain responded with which punitive measures?

In an attempt to quell insurgence and encourage obedience to the crown among the colonists, British Parliament retaliated against the Boston Tea Party with a set of five punitive laws known as the Intolerable Acts: Boston Port Act, Massachusetts Government Act, Administration of Justice Act, Quartering Act and Quebec Act.


Which was not a nickname for colonials who were rebellious against the British crown?

Colonists rebelling against British rule over the North American colonies went by several nicknames, including Colonials, Continentals, Patriots, Rebels, Revolutionaries, Yankees and Whigs. Those who remained loyal to the monarchy were called King's Men, Loyalists, Royalists and Tories.


At the Battle of Bunker Hill, colonial officer William Prescott ordered, "Don't fire until you" what?

"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," ordered Continental Army colonel William Prescott, who commanded the colonial forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Siege of Boston in June 1775.


What city was the capital of the American colonies during the war?

Two battles—the Battles of Brandywine and of Germantown—were fought over the city of Philadelphia, which was the capital city of the Thirteen Colonies. Founded as long ago as 1565, Philly holds the record as the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States.


Who is believed to be the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War?

Colonist Crispus Attucks was shot and killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770, a riot which ignited after a crowd of colonists lobbed snowballs and other debris at British soldiers. Attucks is credited as the first casualty of the American Revolution.


Which was not a commonly used weapon during the American Revolution?

In addition to firepower that included pistols, muskets and rifles, the revolutionists also used everything from cannons to swords, axes and even tomahawks. Although sniping wasn't unheard of during the American Revolution, the first long-range sniper rifle wasn't invented until the 19th century.


Which document, drawn up in 1775, aimed at reconciliation the colonies with Great Britain—but was rejected?

Drawn up by the Continental Congress in July 1775, the Olive Branch Petition was intended to repair the relationship between the colonies and the crown. Although it pledged loyalty to Britain's King George III and was supposed to prevent the impending war, the document failed.


Which was not a major battle during the Revolutionary War?

From the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts to the Siege of Yorktown, the American Revolutionary War was fought up and down the Eastern seaboard. The Battle of Fort Sumter, however, was the first engagement in the American Civil War.


As many as 30,000 Hessian (German) soldiers fought with which side?

More than 30,000 German troops known as Hessians were hired out for military service and fought on the side of the British crown. In the end, it was cheaper for the British army to hire them to join the fight than to assemble more troops of their own.


What country entered the American Revolution on the side of the American Patriots in 1778?

In France in February 1778, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed, with France recognizing the United States of America as an independent nation. In addition, a second agreement, the Treaty of Alliance, was signed, creating an alliance between the U.S. and France against the British crown in the American Revolution. France went on to send supplies as well as 12,000 French troops.


Which of the Thirteen Colonies did not send a delegate to establish the First Continental Congress?

In September 1774, all of the Thirteen Colonies except Georgia sent delegates to Pennsylvania to discuss punitive laws the British had imposed. The meeting, in Philadelphia, established the First Continental Congress. Georgia at the time was fighting with the Native American population and relied on the crown for military supplies.


Which was the largest battle of the war?

When it comes to sheer numbers, as many as 40,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Long Island—the largest battle of the American Revolution. In the end, about 350 British soldiers were killed, along with 2,200 American Patriots.


The majority of the Revolution was fought in New York, New Jersey and which third colony?

Although there were battles in all 13 colonies, the majority of the American Revolution was fought in just three: more than 200 clashes happened in New York, New Jersey and South Carolina.


What percentage of the colonists remained loyal to the British crown during the Revolution?

From government leaders to pastors, not all colonists thought the American Revolution was a good idea. Nearly one-fifth of those living in the Thirteen Colonies were Loyalists. Additionally, another one-third of colonists never took sides.


Which act was not one of the causes of unrest in the American colonies?

Acts passed in the 1760s and 1770s, including the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act and the Townshend Acts, among others, led colonists to feel the crown was taxing them without any representation from across the pond. In addition to collecting taxes, events like the Boston Massacre also angered the colonies. The Confiscation Acts, however, were passed during the Civil War.


Where outside of the Thirteen Colonies did American and British warships battle?

Battles—both land and sea—were fought on U.S. soil as well as in the Caribbean, Europe and India. In March 1776, New Providence Island in the Bahamas was captured by the Continental Navy.


Addressing the Second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty, or give me" what?

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" is attributed to revolutionist Patrick Henry, said during a speech he gave to the Second Virginia Convention in March 1775 at the St. John's Church in Richmond. Henry's speech is believed to have helped swing the balance of the Congress during the vote to deliver troops from Virginia into the Revolutionary War.


It was at which battle that General Burgoyne surrendered 6,000 men to the Patriots, the first major American victory?

The Battle of Saratoga was not only the first major American victory in the Revolution, it's also considered to be the turning point in the war. More than 10,000 Patriots blocked British general John Burgoyne's troops in New York, leading to the General's surrender.


Who wrote the influential—and inflammatory—pamphlet called "Common Sense?"

It was Thomas Paine, activist and philosopher, who wrote a short political pamphlet entitled "Common Sense," which laid out the reasons why his fellow Americans should support freedom from the British crown. General George Washington borrowed from the pamphlet in an effort to rally his troops: "These are the times that try men's souls ..."


What school teacher also worked as one of the first spies for the Continental Army?

A 21-year-old school teacher named Nathan Hale was caught and executed for working as an American spy for the Continental Army. Before his death by hanging, he famously said, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country."


What kind of ink did spies use to write secret messages?

Usually made from ferrous sulfate (iron) and water, this kind of special ink was used to write secret messages for operatives. And when it came time to decode, the ink could be made visible by holding the paper over a flame.


Which company, led by Ethan Allen, captured Fort Ticonderoga?

Originally, the Green Mountain Boys were a militia formed prior to the Revolutionary War in Southern Vermont. It was they who captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. The Boys would also muster for the War of 1812, the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Since World War I, they've been known as the Vermont National Guard.


What historic document begins with, "We hold these truths to be self-evident ... ?"

In 1776, the Second Continental Congress met to declare the independence of the United States from the British crown. The document they drafted, and approved on July 4, 1776, begins with the famous quote, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."


Who is credited with making the first American flag?

Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross is credited with making the first American flag in 1776, although it didn't look like ours today. Ross' flag featured 13 red-and-white stripes, which alternated, and 13 five-pointed stars in a circle on a blue background.


Whose signature is the largest on the Declaration of Independence?

On July 2, 1776, 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, written on parchment, with iron gall ink. The first to sign, and the largest of all signatures, was president of the Congress, John Hancock of Massachusetts.


Which document, signed by representatives of Great Britain and the United States of America, ended the American Revolutionary War?

Signed in 1783, the Treaty of Paris acknowledged the United States of America as its own country, independent from Great Britain. It also established the Mississippi River as the new nation's western boundary and the northern border with Canada. The treaty was the official end of the American Revolutionary War.


The final major battle of the war ended in what Virginia town?

Yorktown, established by the Act for Ports of 1691, was the site of General Cornwallis's surrender to General George Washington, on October 19, 1781. Washington commanded 17,000 Continental and French troops during the battle against 9,000 British troops.


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