With Britain’s superior economy and military forces, it is natural to think that their actions, especially during times of war, are calculated and are more likely to finish quickly, in their favor, of course. It’s not always true. We all make mistakes, and this great nation is no exemption. Here are some of the most costly Revolutionary War mistakes made by the British.

The Battle of Bunker Hill

Battle of Bunker Hill.

The Battle of Bunker Hill happened during the first stage of the American Revolutionary War. The British decided to charge against the Americans to fortify the unoccupied hills in the Breed’s Hill area. They were able to drive the Americans back, but the casualties they sustained were far more than their enemies. Among them were many of their officers. A bayonet charge up a hill against dug-in defenders is near suicidal.  The Colonists were also short of powder and shot and had told their men to aim carefully but not “fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” They were also told to aim low at the belt line of the Red Coats, which would have been but fatal in that time.

The Battle of the Cowpens

The Battle of Cowpens by Don Troiani

The Battle of Cowpens was another epic mistake that the British have made. This time, it was led by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, a young, over-confident leader who sought to advance in Northern Carolina after their success in Southern Carolina and Georgia.

American Commander Daniel Morgan planned to take advantage of the Cowpen’s landscape, the reliability of his troops, and the overconfidence of Tarleton. Everything went according to the plan as Tarleton had a feeling that they would be victorious, and he didn’t want to stop for anything. They ended up waking up as early as 2 am to continue marching towards their supposed victory. Two days before they reached Cowpen, the British ran out of food, and they were stressed because they were not getting enough sleep and nutrition. The day of the battle proved Tarleton’s lack of proper planning, as his troops ended up with 30% casualties and 55% of his force captured or missing.

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

Painting of the Battle of Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781) from Soldiers of the American Revolution by H. Charles McBarron.

The Battle of Guilford Court House happened in what is now called Greensboro, in North Carolina. After their previous losses, Lord Cornwallis was desperate to win against Gen. Nathaniel Greene’s force.

Cornwallis sought battle at Guildford Courthouse, where Greene’s troop was camping. At that time, Greene’s army was twice the number of Cornwallis, but the latter was determined to win, so he still engaged.

The British succeeded in defeating Greene’s 4,500 American forces, although they lost 27% of their total force. Cornwallis then decided to move towards Virginia in an attempt to link with some 3,500 men. This blunder cost them more than just a battle, as his decision allowed Greene to unravel British control of the South. In the end, Cornwallis didn’t have a choice but to surrender to General George Washington and French Lieutenant General Comte de Rochambeau.

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