The book I read just focused on the early Revolutionary War, so I'm somewhat limited in my knowledge of the later war, but here's what I was surprised by from the programs/lectures I've listened to:
1) When Freedom Fries flew in the face of Tyranny
France joined the Revolutionaries in fighting the British. Their main contribution was naval support of New York. They also contributed a large amount of troops that marched against the British in the final part of the war.
With the French Navy patrolling the river and ocean around NYC, they were able to bombard the strongholds of the British and allow the Americans to set up defensive positions outside the city. The ironic thing about this is that the British found themselves in the same position as the Americans in the early days of the war, defending territory that is largely indefensible because of the accessibility of its waterways.
Were in not for Ben Franklin's diplomacy in France , the Revolution may have been lost. As a kid, I don't remember learning that they played such an important role.
2) More trouble with Winter
George Washington endeared himself to his troops in the horrible winter at Valley Forge where many of his troops died of the cold or malnutrition by staying there the entire winter while most of the senior officers took leave and returned to their families. Were it not for his dogged determination in supplying the troops with provisions, the revolution may well have been lost.
3) The Southerners
Part of the war took place in the south, in Georgia where the British tried to take advantage of the much stronger loyalist sentiment there.
This was surprising to me only because I had no idea that there were colonists living in Georgia this early in American history!
4) George Washington: Sensitive Man
After the war was won and before George Washington was president, years of peace negotiations took place. Not knowing whether the British would accept these terms, the American Army had to stay encamped for years.
Since there was no longer a 'hot war' - the various territories in the US underfunded or refused to fund this Army as they had greatly exhausted their resources during the several years of war that proceeded the peace. This led to understandable anger and resentment in the officer class and at one point, some of them actually threatened to march on the continental congress.
Legend says that when George Washington addressed them, he took out his speech he had prepared and as he put his glasses on (they had never seen him wear glasses) he said "excuse me gentlemen, for I have grown blind as well as old in the service of my country"
The rebellious officers were so moved, many started to cry and they dropped the talk of rebellion.
I hope you enjoyed this three part "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader" version of the Revolutionary War.