The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War

A Political, Social, and Military History

by Gregory Fremont-Barnes and Richard A. Ryerson, Volume Editors


How did they do it? How did a ragtag army and fractious group of lawyers, farmers, and businessmen—with far from unanimous popular support—defy a global empire and forge the most successful political revolution in human history, creating a blueprint for a nation that has endured for more than two centuries while so many others have failed?

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Cover image for The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War

September 2006


Pages 1760
Volumes 5
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Military History/Conflict and Wars
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This definitive scholarly reference on the American Revolution—written by acclaimed researchers and military experts from around the world—covers the causes, course, and consequences of the war and the political, social, and military origins of the nation.

The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War: A Political, Social, and Military History is the new standard academic reference for investigating how the United States was created by force of arms—and how that revolution reverberated through the nation’s subsequent development.

Presenting the work of hundreds of distinguished international scholars and independent historians (including many from Britain and France), the encyclopedia ranges from the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 to the ratification of the Constitution in 1789. Its impeccably researched entries address the full spectrum of military, political, and cultural matters crucial to understanding the causes and course of the war—including unprecedented coverage of military life and tactics as well as vivid portraits of the Revolution's participants (men and women; soldiers and civilians; patriots and loyalists; the British, French, and American militaries; German mercenaries; Native Americans; and African Americans, both free and slave). The result is a cornerstone reference on the war and the context in which it emerged—one that supplants all other works of its kind in portraying the traumatic and triumphant birth of a nation.


  • Over 1,300 A–Z entries on various topics connected with the American Revolutionary War, including political issues, arms and battlefield strategies, important personalities, and sociocultural issues
  • Over 150 distinguished international scholars and independent historians from a variety of disciplines, including experts from Great Britain and France, making this a truly international reference work
  • An introductory section offering essays on the war’s root causes, the catalyzing events that lead to its outbreak, as well as a synopsis of the war and an analysis of its long-term impact, providing context for readers wishing to know more
  • A full volume devoted to key documents relevant to the period, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, speeches, and hard-to-find documents such as Anne Hulton's "Letter from a Boston Loyalist" and Joseph Martin Plumb's account of the mutiny on May 25, 1780
  • 324 illustrations depicting colonial and Revolutionary America, plus an opening map section depicting major geopolitical relationships and large scale military operations, and 54 maps of the 13 colonies, theaters of operation, and individual battles on land and at sea
  • A lengthy list of sources, both primary and secondary, covering all aspects of the Revolutionary War, including material on the foreign powers involved in the conflict, loyalists, and other subjects often overlooked in other works


  • Much more comprehensive and diverse—with a much stronger scholarly focus in its coverage than single-volume encyclopedias on the Revolution
  • Brings together information on all aspects of the period, including politics, culture, biographies, and unprecedented coverage of military life and battlefield tactics
  • Covers the period from the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, providing the necessary information for understanding the war's origins and aftermath
  • Offers well-balanced international treatment, including British and French perspectives on the war and differing views across the colonies
Author Info

Gregory Fremont-Barnes, PhD, is a professional writer. His published works include The Napoleonic Wars: The Fall of the French Empire, 1813–1815 and ABC-CLIO's The Encyclopedia of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as well as numerous articles on British military and diplomatic history.

Richard A. Ryerson, PhD, is academic director of the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, PA. His published works include The Revolution Is Now Begun: The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765–1776 and John Adams and the Founding of the Republic.



"Overall, the articles are well written, well researched, and informative, and provide a balanced view of the war. . . . The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War is recommended for all libraries."—Library Journal

"This new encyclopedia is destined to become the standard reference on the American Revolution. Most academic libraries and many larger public libraries will want it in their collections."—Against the Grain

"This encyclopedia is certain to be helpful to students enrolled in U.S. history courses. . . . Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty /researchers; general readers."—Choice

"This encyclopedia demonstrates the value of books in the Internet age. It comprehensively and authoritatively presents the people, battles, and issues of the American Revolution, plus scores of primary sources, in an attractive and highly usable format. . . . [The encyclopedia] deserves purchase by librarians looking for a good resource about the birth of the United States."—Reference & User Services Quarterly


2007 Outstanding Reference Source — RUSA/ALA

2007 Editors' Choice — Booklist

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