Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Last Battle of the American Revolution

If you spend much time reading about the American Revolution you will quickly notice that several different encounters claim the distinction of being the "last battle of the American Revolution."

I thought in honor of the 233rd anniversary of the official beginning of the Revolution at Lexington and Concord on April 18, 1775, it might be of interest to visit the topic of the final battle.

If you search "last battle" and "American Revolution" on Google, you will come up with all kinds of answers. One source (obviously wrong!) says it was the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Chattanooga, Tennessee, points to an engagement on Lookout Mountain in 1782. Kentucky claims the Battle of Blue Licks as the final battle and Florida recently erected a marker for its own candidate, a 1783 naval engagement off Cape Canaveral.

As best I can tell, the Battle of Arkansas Post in Arkansas was the real final battle of the American Revolution. The naval battle off Cape Canaveral, Florida, was fought on March 10, 1783, but five weeks later on April 16, 1783, a party of British-allied irregulars approached Arkansas Post. Sometimes remembered as "Colbert's Raid," the battle began before sunrise on the morning of April 17, 1783 and resulted in the last known shots and last known casualties of the American Revolution.

If you would like to read more, please visit

If anyone is aware of a documented incident that took place after April 17, 1783, I would love to hear about it!


Phil Wright said...

Well, we do qualify the Florida marker as the Last Naval Battle, so we're not exactly competing for the same title. And there is that nagging little problem about the Battle of Cuddalore that took place between June 13th and 20th, 1783. (See Suffren's East Indian Campaign).

It did take place on the other side of the world and no Americans were present - although a few pressed sailors might take exception to that. So was that really part of the American Revolution or were the other countries taking care of their own agendas, cloaked as part of the American Revolution?

But there are elements of "last" that each incident can claim, so it's not mutually exclusive. That said, you'd probably get a few challenges about what was the First battle as well.

And we invite everyone to join us annually on the first Saturday in March at the Florida monument as we commemorate the Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution that took place off the shores of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Yours In Patriotism,
Phil Wright, Brevard Chapter FLSSAR

Dale said...

Thank you for posting! I will make sure to post some additional information on the Florida event later in the month.


J.L Ambrosino said...

Im not sure if a skirmish counts as a battle, I think most claim Yorktown as the last MAJOR battle of the Revolutionary War...of course this is wrong. On Oct. 25 1781, 1400 were engaged in battle. The victory effectively ended fighting in the Mohawk Valley...a true battle indeed, but the victory reached the masses at about the same time as the victory in Yorktown...and history would never righted.

Dale Cox said...

I agree that most consider Yorktown to be the last major battle of the American Revolution, although there was some pretty stiff fighting in South Carolina and Georgia well after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. I think the Arkansas Post encounter was small but significant and was a battle because of its strategic implications, although the number of men involved was small. I will read more about the Mohawk Valley encounter. Thanks for the tip!


Phil Wright said...

Dale's recent post prompts me to remind one and all that the 2012 celebration for the Last NAVAL Battle of the American Revolution will be held on March 3, 2012 starting at 10 AM at the new home of our cannon monument and historical marker on the beautiful grounds of the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Park in Merritt Island, Florida.

Over 200 have already signed up for the color guard parade. There will be a wreath ceremony, a 21 gun salute fired by the Naval Ordinance Test Unit, and more. The event will be held, rain or shine.

The Memorial Park is a must-see for any history buff. The Dixie Doughboy statue is remarkable for its detail. Be sure to save time to tour the museum at the Center.

Come and join us as we rededicate our monument and marker for the Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution.

Phil Wright, Chapter President,
Brevard Chapter FLSSAR

Dale Cox said...

Phil, I have the monument and park on my list of places to visit and photograph this spring! I am really looking forward to seeing them.


Sharla L. Shults said...

Dale, glad to see you are still here after four years! I happened upon your site while doing research for a new book - an unusual book about America's heritage. I was much attuned to the American Revolution and actually was searching for the last battle. Therefore, the information here proved to be quite interesting. Within my research, I also found most references to Yorktown being the last major battle. So...thank you for sharing your insights! Should you have the time, I invite you to visit where I most graciously welcome comments. That area is proving to be very slow. Sharla

Dale Cox said...

Sharla, Thank you for the note! I agree that most see Yorktown as the last major battle. Personally, I think some of the actions in the campaign to retake Savannah after Yorktown rise to the level of major actions, but I understand the point of view of those favoring Yorktown. The Arkansas battle fascinates me because 1) It was west of the Mississippi, and 2) Arkansas Post had such a rich colonial history.

I have visited your blog and think you are doing a great job!


Janet, said...

Another late commenter here. Here in West Virginia, we were always taught in school that the Battle at Fort Henry in Wheeling on September 11 1782 was the last battle of the Revolution.

Dale Cox said...

Janet, I have heard of the battle you mention as well. The one at Arkansas Post took place a few months later. I think they all serve as "last battles" of a sort because each one marched the end of the war in a particular region.