The achievements of the American Revolution rest on the victory of the revolutionaries in an armed struggle. Men in arms won our independence. They made the establishment of our republic possible. Their eight-year war against a powerful foe is the epic that forged our national identity. They dedicated our nation to liberty and natural rights through their courage and their sacrifices.
Americans must never forget those facts. The battlefields where those brave Americans fought and died to secure our liberty are powerful reminders of their courage and idealism. We need those reminders.
Battlefields give us a chance to understand how our War for Independence was fought and won in a way that documentary evidence alone can never provide. They are tangible reminders of the epic struggle that created our national identity—scenes of triumph and tragedy where our shared history took shape. They remind us what ordinary people—laborers and tradesmen, fishermen and farmers, young and old—can achieve together when they dedicate themselves to a cause greater than themselves.
The battlefields of our War for Independence remind us that the people who fought for our liberty were real, and that their struggles happened, not in distant legend but in particular places under unique circumstances. Walking the ground where they walked and the fields over which they fought offers us the only way we have to walk with them. It gives us an opportunity to recover a part of their experience, and to imagine their fear, their courage and their determination.
They are hallowed ground, where men gave their lives for freedom, for one another and for us. They have much to teach us about our shared past. They are places for sadness and study, quiet pilgrimage and celebration. All that we have been, all that we are and all that we might be as a people is rooted in these places, where daring people fought for liberty.
Preserving Revolutionary War Battlefields
Battles of our War for Independence were fought in every state from Maine to Florida. Fighting also occurred west of the Appalachians, in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri; and along the Gulf of Mexico, in Alabama and Louisiana. Most of those battlefields are forgotten and neglected. It doesn’t have to be that way. The time to save these battlefields is now—before developers target the land. If we act quickly, we can save the remaining battlefields of the Revolution, interpret them effectively and attract millions of visitors to the story of the Revolutionary War.
Deliberate efforts to preserve Revolutionary War battlefields began in the twentieth century, decades after the federal government started to acquire Civil War battlefields. By the time the first Revolutionary War battlefield parks were created—mostly between 1920 and 1960—many of the most important battlefields and historic sites of our Revolutionary War had long been lost to urban growth. The battlefields of Bunker Hill, Brooklyn, Kip’s Bay, Harlem Heights, Fort Washington, Trenton, Germantown, Charleston and Savannah were built over in the nineteenth century. Monuments surrounded by city streets mark the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Trenton. Tiny fragments of the battlefields of Charleston and Savannah survive, providing a faint idea of the Revolutionary War landscape.
Some of the most important battlefields of the war are preserved, at least in part, in parks maintained by the National Park Service and by several states. The Battle Road between Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, Ninety-Six, Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Court House and Yorktown are all preserved, at least in part, in the National Park System, as are the winter encampment sites at Morristown and Valley Forge. States preserve parts of the battlefields of Princeton and Monmouth in New Jersey, Bennington in New York, Hubbardton in Vermont, Brandywine in Pennsylvania, Moores Creek in North Carolina and several others. A few battlefields, including Camden in South Carolina, are preserved by private organizations.
Elsewhere battlefields of the Revolutionary War are unprotected. In Georgia and the Carolinas, where Americans frustrated the British in a partisan war involving scores of small engagements, most battlefields remain in private hands. The same is true of battlefields in the North. Even where battlefield parks have been established, important battlefield land remains outside park boundaries and, in many instances, threatened by development. This is the situation at Saratoga, Guilford Court House and Yorktown, as well as other battlefields where Americans fought to win our independence.
Click the button below to find out how you can make a difference and be a part of saving the remaining battlefields of the Revolutionary War.