Alternative Strategies and
Rebels and Redcoats 1775-1776
The first two years of the American Revolution are viewed in retrospect as a more critical period in the formation of political policy rather than an era of decisive military engagements. While this initial period of the patriot struggle produced the dramatic events surrounding the debate and ratification of the Declaration of Independence, there was no climactic battle of the scope of Saratoga or Yorktown which determined the eventual outcome of the war. However, although neither the American rebels nor the British ministerial army was able to terminate the conflict in their favor between the spring of 1775 and the spring of 1777, each army did have several opportunities to inflict such a decisive defeat on the enemy that the war indeed might have ended in its first stage with either de facto American independence or British suppression of the rebellion as the two widely divergent outcomes.
The first major opportunity for the American patriots to gain most of their desired concessions from King and Parliament occurred during the 11 month struggle for control of Boston and its outlying regions. American military resistance during the Massachusetts campaign caught the British military establishment at its weakest point in the conflict. The Royal Navy's battle strength was enormously weakened by the poor physical condition of many of its ships, the transport ships needed to ferry a large expeditionary force to America were not yet available and large numbers of infantry regiments were at their low peacetime establishments. The main projection of British force in the colonies centered around the 5700 man garrison at Boston which was virtually besieged by a much larger, if far less professional, colonial army. The American rebels not only enjoyed a large numerical advantage, the colonies were also swept by the rage militaire which for