The American War of Independence

The American War of Independence

Losing North America

BattlefieldHistory

The American War of Independence

Losing North America

BattlefieldHistory

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Tour Introduction

This superb 11 day tour will immerse you in 18th century colonial America during its struggle for independence. Starting in historic Boston, the cradle of the revolution and home to the Freedom Trail, we travel through magnificent Eastern USA countryside to explore the pivotal battlefields and important sites of the war, many of which have been painstakingly and wonderfully restored. We will visit places that resonate throughout history: Lexington, Saratoga, Valley Forge, West Point, Philadelphia, Yorktown and Mount Vernon whilst at Jamestown and Williamsburg we explore America’s colonial past. Throughout we will be staying at full service hotels and dining at a wealth of local restaurants, and all this in the company of expert native historian Stuart Dempsey.

Background

Opposition to London’s insensitive colonial policies on taxation and governance was provoked into outright rebellion when British soldiers attempted to disarm Massachusetts patriots in April 1775. British forces enjoyed initial tactical successes around Boston, but strategically these were not enough to prevent the city’s encirclement by the newly formed Continental Army under George Washington and seaborne evacuation followed in spring of 1776. For the next 18 months the revolt hung in the balance with substantial British reinforcements taking Philadelphia and New York, but an ill-conceived and poorly managed advance from Canada ended in abject failure with the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga in October 1777. The result was the abandonment of Philadelphia and the entry of a revengeful France into the conflict providing much needed naval support, military training and equipment to the patriots. Despite a relatively successful campaign in Georgia and the Carolinas, Lord Cornwallis was forced to march northwards to Virginia where the anticipated extraction by the Royal Navy was foiled by a larger French fleet, the consequence of which was the surrender of the main British Army at Yorktown in October 1781 and the ensuing independence of the United States of America.

Highlights

  • With expert Stuart Dempsey & tour manager Fred Hawthorne
  • Tour of Revolutionary Boston
  • Visit George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon
  • Visit Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in the New World

"We really appreciated the amount of effort Fred had undertaken both before and during the tour. Excellent"

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival

Fly to Boston and drive to Salem, MA, home to the infamous 17th century witch trials and our base for two nights. Welcome dinner.

Day 2 – Boston

We take an orientation tour of Revolutionary Boston following its ‘Freedom Trail’ encompassing, amongst others, Boston Common, the Old South Meeting House (home to the Boston Tea Party), the Old State House, the site of the so called ‘Boston Massacre’ and Old North Church which ‘ignited’ the Revolution. This afternoon we examine the siege of Boston visiting the Bunker Hill museum and monument on Breed’s Hill as well as Dorchester Heights, where Washington sited his heavy guns forcing the British to abandon the city thus bringing the siege to a close.

Day 3 – Lexington & Concord

Travel out to Lexington and Concord where a poorly executed British search and destroy expedition provoked the first shots of the war to be fired. We will explore the Buckman Tavern, Visitors Center and Battle Green at Lexington, whilst at Concorde we explore the Minuteman Visitor Center, follow the battle road trail and the Old North Bridge where “the shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. Continue to Albany, the state capital of New York and our base for the night.

Day 4 – Saratoga

We visit one of the pivotal battle areas of the war ­ Saratoga. A highly complicated British plan to split the colonies resulted in a series of actions and the surrender of a large army directly resulting in the French recognition of American independence. The site of these actions is now preserved in a National Park. Continue to West Point where we spend the night.

Day 5 – West Point and Monmouth

We take a short tour of West Point, home to the United States Military Academy and explore its revolutionary past in which it was so nearly betrayed by Benedict Arnold. We visit Fort Montgomery seized by the British in 1777 and Stony Point the scene of a successful night attack by the Continental army. Thence to Monmouth, site of perhaps the largest battle of the war. Continue to Valley Forge area, which like George Washington, we use as our base for the next three nights.

Day 6 – Philadelphia

One of the largest cities in the British Empire in the 18th century and as the Continental capital, a natural military target. Today we will visit key Revolutionary sites contained in Independence National Park and preserved colonial sections in the heart of the modern city. Independence Hall ­ where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed in the summer of 1776 and the famous Liberty Bell ­ one of the cherished symbols of American independence are both key components of this park. We will also look at the occupation of this city by the forces of General William Howe.

Day 7 – Trenton and Princeton

Today we will visit several of the sites of key events of the war, Trenton, NJ ­ scene of a surprise winter attack on a force of the King's Hessians on Boxing Day 1776, and Valley Forge where the American forces spent a brutal winter in 1777/1778 from which it emerged as a modern professional army.

Day 8 – Brandywine Creek and Fort McHenry

The opportunity to corner Lord Cornwallis's army in the south led to a rapid concentration of American and French forces in Virginia. We will follow the route of the march, first visiting the site of the significant British victory at Brandywine Creek, which paved their entry into the city of Philadelphia. This afternoon we drop into Fort McHenry, the scene of a valiant defence during the War of 1812 that inspired the words of the ‘Star-spangled Banner’. Continue to Colonial Williamsburg where we spend the last three nights of our tour.

Day 9 – Williamsburg

We spend a full day back in the 18th century in Williamsburg, Virginia, the former colonial capital of America where independence was first declared. Here, working re-enactors demonstrate a diversity of artisan and historic skills in a wealth of lovingly restored and recreated establishments. You’ll visit the courthouse, merchant’s houses, a foundry, the Governor’s house, the magazine, the military camp and a whole lot more to provide you with a thorough understanding of life in Revolutionary America.

Day 10 – Jamestown & Yorktown

This morning we will visit the preserved site of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in the New World, with its extant and restored buildings, re-enactors, archaeological digs and museums. Thence to Yorktown where Cornwallis found himself abandoned and surrounded by the concentration of enemy troops coupled with the timely arrival of a French fleet. Following a short siege his surrender brought to an end military action in the war. We spend the whole afternoon exploring the siege lines, batteries, redoubts, battlefield, the visitor centre and the surrender ground.

Day 11 – Mount Vernon & Departure

This morning we visit George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. We find time to explore the 18th century plantation: the mansion and outbuildings, the gardens and grounds, the museum and his tomb. Thence to Dulles airport, Washington for our return flights to London.

Day 12 - Arrive London.

Recommended Reading List

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