Revolutionary War Generals

Revolutionary War generals constitute some of the most famous Americans and British in history. A surprising number of people made their names during the American War for Independence.

For example, Benedict Arnold is famous as a traitor, but did you know he was a general who fought brilliantly and bravely during the Battle of Saratoga?

The ancient Roman way of life and warfare was a great example for these generals.

American Generals

These generals are in alphabetical order by last name.

General Horatio Gates, public domain image

  • Horatio Gates: a controversial figure who campaigned unsuccessfully to replace Washington as commander-in-chief, then disappeared from the war after being routed by British forces at Camden in 1780.
  • General Nathanael Greene was a well-respected and faithful servant of the Continental Army. He emerged from the Revolutionary War as one of Washington’s most trusted and successful generals. Nathanael Greene is best remembered for his success in the Southern Campaign against General Cornwallis.
  • William Heath fought in the Battle of LexingtonConcord,  the Siege of BostonLong Island, Harlem Heights, and many others as well as having a political career. 
  • General Henry Knox was the youngest Major General in the Continental Army.
  • General Charles Lee was a leader during the American Revolution. He was second-in-command to General George Washington, and famously believed that he ought to have been given leadership of the army. He criticized Washington’s decisions and openly attacked his reputation. He was eventually dismissed from the army.
  • Benjamin Lincoln fought all over the United States from northern New York and Massachusetts down to Charleston. He took part in many battles, losing some, but was finally able to oversee the surrender of the British at Yorktown.
  • The Marquis de Lafayette was French, but he fought in the Revolutionary War as a general and an aide and friend to General Washington.
  • General Daniel Morgan was a general in the Revolutionary War, a talented battlefield tactician, and a politician. He took part in two of the most important turning points in the revolution.
  • Joseph Reed was a lawyer, Adjutant General in the Revolutionary War, and a member of the Continental Congress.
  • fooon von Steuben was a German-born officer in the Prussian army who volunteered his services in the Continental army. His “blue book” and training methods revolutionized the American army’s methods.
  • Artemas Ward was a Major General in the Continental army who went on to have a political career after the war. 
  • George Washington is, of course, the most famous of Revolutionary War generals and was commander-in-chief of the colonial forces.
  • Anthony Wayne was an American Statesman, who became a general and fought in the Revolutionary War. He made military his career. His bravery and daring exploits earned him the nickname “Mad Anthony.”
  • Colonel William Prescott, while not a general, played an important role in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

British Generals

  • Edward Braddock’s famous fall, next to then Colonel George Washington, during the French and Indian War helped lead to the War for Independence.
  • John Burgoyne returned to England in disgrace after surrendering at the Battle of Saratoga.
  • General Sir Guy Carleton was commander of British troops during the American War of Independence, specifically leading the defense during the Battle of Quebec. Carleton was also responsible for the safe removal of the Tories and freed slaves who joined the British.
  • Henry Clinton led the British as Commander-in-Chief for much of the American Revolution. His meticulous record-keeping has given us our only historical information on some Revolutionary War spies.
  • Lord General Charles Cornwallis was blamed by General Henry Clinton for the loss of the colonies, but he proved to be a capable general and politician in Ireland and India after the Revolutionary War.
  • General Thomas Gage fought in the Siege of Boston, The Battles at Lexington and Concord, and many others before being replaced by Howe.
  • William Howe is the other British Commander-in-Chief during the American Revolution. He captured New York and Philadelphia.
  • Although he didn’t earn the title General until after the Revolutionary War, General Sir Banastre Tarleton is one of the most well known British soldier, remembered for the title, “The Most Hated Officer in America.”
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