I don’t know why it is, but I’m annoyed when people call today the “Fourth of July.” The actual holiday is Independence Day.
Here in the United States, we do not celebrate the date, but the events that happened around this single date in history. The Revolutionary War began in 1775 – some 15 months prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, this basic fact has been lost in the modern educational system and many of the adults walking around are ignorant of it.
You see, on April 18, 1775, the British Army marched on Concord, MA to confiscate arms and munitions from the colonists. On their way there, the 700 British soldiers encountered 77 American Minutemen on the morning of April 19. In that first skirmish, several Americans were killed and the war had begun.
By the time the British made it to Concord, 500 Minutemen were waiting. The Americans routed the British, handing the crown its first of many defeats in the war.
As the British retreated back to Boston, they were harried along the route and suffered additional casualties. More than 4,000 British reinforcements arrived in Boston while the Massachusetts militia surrounded them.
On June 17, 1775, the British attempted a frontal assault on the militia which resulted in more than 1,000 British casualties. This event, known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, pushed the Americans back and is considered as a loss by some historians. However, the British goal was not achieved since the battle failed to break the siege.
An interesting aspect to Bunker Hill is that the colonists ‘lost’ not through feat of arms or being outmanned. Rather, they ran out of ammunition. The British were attacking from an exposed position while the colonists were rather well dug in and disciplined. Had the ammo been there, the British losses would have been even more devastating.
In July, General George Washington arrived outside of Boston, canons were brought up and by mid-March of 1776, the British evacuated from Boston by sea.
During the same time, mid 1775 – 1776, Americans were fighting the British in Quebec.
So, the signing of the Declaration of Independence was not the start of the war. Rather, it was a chance for the colonies to explain to the world why war was necessary, and an act that American had not undertaken without thoughtful consideration.
I guess that is why the use of the term “Fourth of July” is annoying to me instead of the actual holiday: Independence Day.