Colonists had made homes in the new frontier, west of the Appalachian Mountains, despite Native American opposition. When the War for Independence began, the British allied themselves with Natives. This generated an escalated amount of conflict between Natives and settlers on the western frontier as they disputed land ownership. Tensions furthermore increased when the British began an offensive into the West from Canada, in 1777. The British actively recruited and armed Native American war parties to raid American communities. By 1778, settlers took the offensive against combined British and Native forces to protect their western border. Americans like Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark led resistance efforts against British frontier action. In a wintertime march, Lt. Col. Clark led a small American force to Fort Vincennes and arrived on February 23rd, 1779. With the element of surprise, Clark’s forces overwhelmed Fort Vincennes’ attending British Regulars and Native allies under Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton. With the British surrender of the fort, the Battle of Vincennes proved pivotal to Patriot control over the frontier.
Many battlefields are already preserved and restored to their 18th and 19th Century state. Many are also open to visitors by national, state and local battlefield park organizations. For information on how to visit the site of one of America's early battles, visit our Battlefields Section.