American Revolution. Momentum Changing Battles. 1. Lexington and Concord, April 1775.
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Although more a series of skirmishes than a pitched battle, this clash of arms was the result of tensions that had built over a long period and changed the conflict from politics and social unrest to open warfare.
This costly British victory helped shape the early course of the war by proving that intimidating force alone would not bring about victory. It also proved that there was no going back: the war would be a long one with no immediate diplomatic solution.
The British army’s dramatic success in New York and New Jersey in 1776 was, arguably, predictable given its overwhelming size and skill. The sudden defeat at Trenton and the ten days of chaos that followed was not expected, and preserved American military will.
It wasn’t so much any single battle but the failure of the British campaign from the north that made this the war’s most significant military turning point. The surrender of a British army encouraged France to openly join the conflict.
This failed American campaign, often overlooked as insignificant, not only stopped American military momentum gained from Saratoga and the recovery of Philadelphia, it showed that alliance with France would not bring a speedy end to the war. The northern theater remained in a stalemate for the rest of the war.
Not a pitched battle but a protracted siege that ended in the surrender of a substantial British army, this operation was the zenith of French-American cooperation and the end of major British military operations in America.