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What home field advantage did the Americans have?
Who was on of their strong generals?
what is one of their good spies?


The "home field advantage" as you call it, was the main thing the Americans had going for them during the Revolution.  The British were forced to spend a great deal of time and money to train soldiers and then ship them on a months long voyage across the Atlantic to the colonies.  It was very expensive to keep such a large force in the field.  In the end, it was these costs, along with the need to deploy more soldiers elsewhere in more valuable colonies threatened by France that force Britain to end the war in America.  The other advantage was communication.  Any changes in orders or feedback on the results of battles took months to communicate back to military and political leaders in Britain.  This forced them to rely more on local commanders with open ended instructions to use their discretion as events arose.

By comparison, American colonists could supplement the Continental army with local militia.  When the war moved to a new area, local militia groups would help supplement the regular army and would also provide assistance with the local geography.  Of course, there were many places that remained pro-British and where militia was helpful to the British forces as well.  But overall, it benefited the Continental army more.

George Washington was, of course, the best known General.  He was not considered a particularly good tactician and actually lost many more battles than he won.  His genius was his ability to keep the army going after losses, to keep up moral, the ability to prevent infighting and ego battles within the leadership from destroying the army, and to maintain Congressional control of the Army.

As far as the best actual military leader on the American side, Benedict Arnold proved to be one of the best for much of the war.  He lost a leg in battle and was eventually sidelined because of it, but before that was an amazing strategist and battlefield commander.  His decision to betray his new country later overshadows his earlier military leadership of course.  

Other top leaders include Nathanael Green and Henry Knox.  Green was probably the most capable battlefield commander and probably would have become much more famous as a founding father if he had died shortly after the war ended.  Knox became head of artillery and used it well to win several battles.  His work was key to forcing the British to evacuate Boston early in the war.

Both armies made great use of spies, but usually these were just locals who could gather intelligence based on actually being a local civilian and then reporting what they saw.  Most did not stay with the Army when it moved to other areas and little is known about many of them.  Probably the most famous spy was Nathan Hale, who actually turned out to be a terrible spy in practice, being caught and hanged on his first mission.

One of the best may have been someone whose identity is still not known today.  A spy known only as Agent 355 was known to be a young woman from a prominent family in New York.  During the British occupation of New York City, she had regular access to British officers and passed along a great deal of intelligence to the Continental Army.  Another famous spy who also covered the NY occupation was Abraham Woodhull, who developed a secret code for working communicating with the Army and delivered regular intelligence on British actions.  Another top spy was Daniel Bissel, who actually joined the British army and served for more than a year while gaining intelligence which he then provided to Gen. Washington.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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