Revolutionary War Battles Before the Declaration of Independence

The Revolutionary War was fought between Great Britain and the thirteen North American Colonies. Many consider July 4, 1776, the starting point of the American Revolution, but in reality it starts much earlier. The English Parliament began imposing taxes on American colonies to help pay for the French and Indian War. These taxes led to protests across the country and eventually escalated into violence, and colonists realized that war with Britain was inevitable. 

Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775

The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. It was fought on April 19, 1775, between the British army and the local colonial militia known as Minutemen. The battle occurred 20 miles northwest of Boston, in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

British Army in Concord, Amos Dolittle 1775, New York Public Library

The battle resulted from a British plan to capture and destroy military supplies stored by the colonists in Concord in preparation for the coming war. However, the Minutemen in Lexington, warned of the British plans by Paul Revere, met the British Army ready to fight.  In a brief engagement, eight Minutemen were killed and ten were wounded.

The British continued their march toward Concord, where they found and destroyed some military supplies, but they were met with heavier resistance from the local militia. The colonists had been reinforced by additional Minutemen and were able to drive the British back towards Lexington and eventually Boston.

It is unknown who fired the first shot, but the battle of Lexington and Concord marked the first time that the colonists were able to stand up to the British army in a major engagement. This battle is often called the “Shot heard around the world” because it started the American Revolutionary War.

The battle also demonstrated the determination and courage of the colonists, and it served as a rallying point for the colonies, which led to the formation of the Continental Army and the eventual Declaration of Independence.


Minutemen were a type of militia that formed part of the colonist military during the American Revolutionary War. They were called Minutement because they could respond to a call to arms within a minute’s notice. Minutemen were typically made up of farmers, tradesmen, and other civilians willing to fight for the Colonists.

Battle of Lexington, William Barnes Wollen(1910), National Army Museum

Minutemen were organized on a local level and were responsible for their own training and equipment. 

Minutemen were present at some of the first major engagements of the Revolutionary War, including the Battle of Lexington and Concord, where they could hold off the British troops until reinforcements arrived, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, where they played a key role in the colonial defense.

Bunker Hill (or Breed’s Hill), June 17, 1775

Bunker Hill, by Howard Pyle (1897) Delaware Art Museum

The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought two months after the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The battle was fought between British and Colonial forces to control the hills around Boston Harbor and shipping in and out of the harbor.  The colonists fortified Breed’s Hill, which the British subsequently attacked. Despite being outnumbered, the colonists held off two British assaults before being forced to retreat. While the colonists ultimately lost the battle, it was seen as a significant victory for them as they were able to inflict heavy casualties on the British. 

Dr. Joseph Warren, by John Singleton Copley (1765) Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Bunker Hill was the first time notable individuals were killed or wounded during battle. On the Colonial side, Dr. Joseph Warren, a prominent leader and a member of the Sons of Liberty, was killed during the battle while leading the defense of the fortifications on Breed’s Hill allowing others to retreat to safety. On the British side, Major John Pitcairn, a veteran of the French and Indian War, was killed during the battle while leading the final charge up Breed’s Hill. 

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in American history. It was adopted on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress, and it announced that the thirteen colonies were no longer subject to British rule and were now independent American states. 

The Declaration of Independence is considered one of the most important documents in the history of democracy and human rights. It’s a symbol of freedom and self-government, and its principles continue to influence politics and culture around the world. 

While the Declaration of Independence did not signal the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, it provided the ideological foundation for why the war was being fought and what the Americans hoped to achieve.  Later, when the Americans begin to achieve success on the battlefield, it will help rally international support for American independence.