The French And Indian War
Virginia prepares to attack the French.—When Dinwiddie heard the French reply, he prepared for war. From the house of burgesses he demanded men and money, and messengers were sent to the Catawbas, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and the Iroquois of the Ohio Valley asking them to join in a war against the French. Dinwiddie also appealed to the governors of Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey for men and he asked the governors of New York and Massachusetts to make a demonstration against Canada to distract forces from the Ohio. The replies proved disappointing. The only outside troops which immediately came were a company of regulars from South Carolina sent by royal order. Two companies of regulars from New York arrived too late to be of service.
Washington's first campaign.—Three hundred provincial troops were raised in Virginia and placed under Joshua Frye, with Washington second in command. A few backwoodsmen were sent forward in February, 1754, to build a fort at the forks of the Ohio, but were captured by a body of French and Indians. The prisoners were released and brought back the news of their mishap. The French demolished the fortification and built a stronger one which they named Fort Duquesne. Washington pushed on toward the west with a portion of the troops and by the middle of May reached the Great Meadows. Hearing that a party of French were scouting in the neighborhood, Washington, with forty men surprised them, captured twenty-two, and killed ten.
The death of Frye gave Washington the command. Realizing the imminence of an attack, he constructed a rude fortification at Great Meadows, which he called Fort Necessity, and here the rest of the Virginia troops and the regulars from South Carolina were concentrated. From Ft. Duquesne a force variously estimated at from five hundred to seven hundred men under Coulon de Villiers, was despatched to attack Washington's forces, now reduced to about three hundred and fifty effectives. The fortifications proved to be badly constructed and poorly located, and ammunition ran short. In a few hours fifty or sixty men had fallen, and when Villiers proposed terms of surrender it was evident that they must be accepted. "Not an English flag now waved beyond the Alleghanies," and the red warriors of the West and even many of the Iroquois flocked to the standards of France.
Apathy of the colonial legislatures.—Even Washington's defeat did not greatly arouse the colonial assemblies. After much delay Virginia voted twenty thousand pounds, Pennsylvania a paltry five hundred pounds for presents to the Indians, New York five thousand pounds, Maryland six thousand. In Massachusetts Governor Shirley used a rumor that the French were seizing places in the back country to obtain a large grant. He also sent eight hundred men to build two forts on the Kennebec. The southern colonies appear to have taken no action.
The Albany convention.—The encroachments of the French showed the necessity of adopting some plan of defence. In June, 1754, representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the New England colonies met at Albany. The Indian chiefs stated their grievances and were sent away soothed but hardly satisfied. The representatives then took up the subject of defence. A plan of union, chiefly the work of Franklin, was proposed, but when it was submitted to the colonies they unanimously rejected it. The Board of Trade then formulated a plan of union for military purposes only, but events were occurring which made it necessary to take immediate action. The plan was laid aside, and the board suggested the appointment of a commander-in-chief over all the forces in America, a suggestion which was eventually put into effect.
Preparations for war.—In Europe, England and France were nominally at peace. At the head of the English ministry was the Duke of Newcastle, who maintained his control of a parliamentary majority by corruption rather than by statesmanship. Fortunately for England, she had a fleet which was far more numerous than that of her opponent. The strength of France lay in her army which was nearly ten times as strong as that of her rival. Major-General Edward Braddock, a former governor of Gibraltar, stubborn, irascible, and little given to taking advice, was sent to Virginia with two regiments, which embarked at Cork in January, 1755. As soon as the French heard of this, eighteen men-of-war with three thousand soldiers were sent to Canada, followed shortly by nine more war vessels. The English immediately sent twelve vessels under Admiral Boscawen in pursuit, followed shortly by seven more, but only two of the French vessels were captured.
The council of governors.—Braddock summoned the governors for a consultation and they met in April, 1755, at Alexandria in Virginia. Those who responded were the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts. William Johnson was also at Alexandria but was not in the council. A four-fold attack was planned. Braddock was to attack Fort Duquesne; Shirley was to strike at Niagara; Johnson to attack Crown Point; and Lieutenant-Colonel Monckton was to proceed against Beauséjour.
Braddock's campaign.—After great difficulty in obtaining wagons and supplies, Braddock moved toward the frontier. In May his forces, composed of about two thousand men, were gathered at Fort Cumberland. At Little Meadows, thirty miles from Fort Cumberland, Braddock left the heavy baggage and marched on, though slowly, to attack Fort Duquesne. On July 9 when the forces were about seven miles from the fort they began to march along a rough path through the forest. As the English advanced forces were crossing a ravine they were attacked by the French and Indians, who spread out on either side and fought from behind trees, while the English regulars wheeled into line and returned the fire. The bravery and discipline of the English regulars proved of little avail against the invisible enemy and they soon broke and fled. Braddock hastened up with the second division, but the troops retreating from the front threw them into hopeless confusion. Braddock realized that his force was in danger of annihilation and ordered a retreat. As he fell back he received a mortal wound. Washington, left in command, extricated the troops as best he could and once more led back the sorry remnant of a defeated force.
The harrying of the frontiers.—With the defeat of Braddock, the frontiers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia were left almost defenceless. Washington could muster barely fifteen hundred men to protect a mountainous frontier nearly four hundred miles long. No assistance was offered by Pennsylvania, whose Quaker representatives, religiously opposed to war, quarreled with the governor over raising money for defence, in every revenue bill asserting the right to tax the lands of the proprietor, a course in which the governor was unable to acquiesce. The deadlock between governor and assembly continued for months, while Indian war bands killed hundreds of settlers. The back country of Virginia was also a scene of massacre and rapine. Under Washington's supervision a plan of defence was devised. Blockhouses were built at advantageous points along the frontier, the most important being Fort Ligonier near the Alleghany River, Fort Chiswell in the Shenandoah Valley, Fort Bird on the Holston River, and Fort Loudoun on the Little Tennessee. Fort Cumberland protected the upper Potomac.
The Western English Frontier (From Thwaites, France in America, opposite p. 256 [Harpers]
Operations in Acadia.—While the war was going badly on the western frontier Nova Scotia was the scene of victory. In June Monckton with two thousand colonials landed at Fort Lawrence and soon captured Fort Beauséjour. Fort Gaspereau and a fortification at the mouth of the St. John were also occupied. Then followed one of those tragic dramas of war, the removal of the Acadians. They had constantly been in sympathy with France and many of them had broken their neutrality in the recent conflict. When they were again asked to take the oath of allegiance they stubbornly refused. Fearing their defection in case the French attempted to reconquer the peninsula, their deportation was ordered. Over six thousand were sent away, many being placed in the mainland English colonies; others went to Louisiana and the West Indies, and still others to Canada and France. One shipload of the unfortunates landed in Texas and fell into the hands of the Spaniards.
The Crown Point campaign.—For the advance against Crown Point about three thousand men from the New England colonies and New York were brought together at Albany under William Johnson. It was not until August that they encamped at the southern end of Lake George. The slowness of Johnson's movements had given the French ample time for preparation. Baron Dieskau with thirty-four hundred men had been sent to Crown Point. He now moved southward with a part of his force to a point almost east of the English camp. In the first engagement Dieskau scored a success. He then rashly attacked the English camp, but his forces suffered heavily, were finally routed, and the commander captured. After the battle Johnson, who was wounded, decided not to attempt to capture Crown Point.
The Niagara campaign.—Governor Shirley undertook the reduction of Niagara. With two regiments of colonials and five hundred New Jersey men he advanced to Oswego. But there Shirley found himself checkmated, for the French had sent fourteen hundred men to Fort Frontenac and had brought twelve hundred from Fort Duquesne to Niagara. If Shirley attacked, he would be in danger of forces from Fort Frontenac cutting his line of communications. After a summer of inactivity he left a garrison of seven hundred men at Oswego and abandoned the campaign.
The diplomatic revolution.—In 1756 the old alignment of England and Austria against Prussia, France, and Spain changed. Since the War of the Austrian Succession, Maria Theresa had bided her time, until she could recover Silesia. With the aid of her great minister, Kaunitz, she succeeded in forming new alliances, France, Russia, Austria, and some of the minor German states uniting against Frederick the Great. To protect Hanover, the hereditary possession of George II, England made an alliance with Prussia, and thus became a participant in the Seven Years' War. Although a state of war with France had existed in India and America, neither power had made a declaration of war. But there was no longer need for subterfuge; England declared war on May 18, 1756, and France on June 9.
French preparations.—Already France had despatched to America the Marquis de Montcalm to take command of the forces, with the Chevalier de Levis as second in command. Almost from the first Montcalm was beset with difficulties. Vaudreuil, who had taken Duquesne's place as governor-general, was a colonial, jealous of any official from France, a man lacking in decision, desirous of appearing as the mainspring of success, but ever ready to blame failure upon others. The Intendant Bigot was entirely venal, a man of low morality, who feathered his nest regardless of the public danger. Montcalm's command contained three thousand French regulars in Canada and eleven hundred at Louisbourg, two thousand trained colonials, and about fifteen thousand militia. The Indian allies furnished varying numbers.
English preparations.—Upon his return from Oswego Shirley planned a new offensive, which included attacks upon Ft. Duquesne, the Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain defences, and the settlements above Quebec. This was approved by a war council at Albany, but the colonies refused to embark in such an extensive scheme and the attack on Ft. Duquesne and Quebec had to be abandoned. John Winslow was commissioned to lead the troops against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and Shirley proposed to command against the Ontario strongholds. But before the plan could be executed Shirley was superseded by Colonel Daniel Webb, who in turn was followed by General James Abercromby, with the understanding that Loudoun was soon to take command.
The fall of Oswego.—While the colonial forces were slowly preparing to take the offensive, Montcalm struck at Oswego. A three days' siege made the forts untenable and the place surrendered on August 14, 1756, sixteen hundred prisoners being taken. Montcalm then returned to Ticonderoga, where his garrison of five thousand men defied Loudoun, who dared not attack him. The year had been one of dismal disasters for the English: Oswego fallen, the Ticonderoga attack abandoned, the frontiers from Maine to South Carolina harried by Indian war, Minorca captured by the French, and Calcutta fallen to Sur'a ah Dowlah.
Pitt becomes the moving spirit.—Newcastle's mismanagement raised a popular outcry and in November, 1756, he resigned. The Duke of Devonshire became Prime Minister, but Pitt was the strong man of the new cabinet. He was not in the king's favor, however, and, by April, 1757, was forced out of office. In July a new ministry was formed. "To Newcastle was given the name of Prime Minister, to Pitt the reality. With the control of foreign affairs as Principal Secretary of State he was also to have control of the war." He saw that England's opportunity was on the seas and in the colonies.
Louisbourg and Ft. William Henry.—At the advice of Loudoun an attack on Louisbourg had been planned. A part of the troops were withdrawn from the northern frontier and in June eleven or twelve thousand men were gathered at Halifax, where they were joined by a squadron under Vice-Admiral Holburne. The news that Louisbourg had been heavily reinforced alarmed Loudoun and he returned to New York. Holburne cruised off Louisbourg, hoping to attack the French, but his fleet was shattered by a storm. Loudoun had left an insufficient force to defend the Lake George region. Montcalm, ever on the alert to take advantage of the blunders of the enemy, descended from Ticonderoga and attacked Fort William Henry at the southern end of the lake. After a three days' bombardment the English force of about two thousand surrendered. On the continent the British had failed dismally. An attempt to capture Rochefort had been unsuccessful and the Duke of Cumberland had conducted an inglorious campaign in Germany. The only great British successes of the year were in India where Calcutta and Chandernagore were captured and the battle of Plassey was won.
Preparations and plans, 1758.—By 1758 Pitt, ably seconded by Admiral Anson, had brought the army and navy to a high standard. A squadron was sent to watch Brest, flying squadrons attacked several French ports, a fleet was maintained in the Mediterranean to prevent the fleet at Toulon from getting into the Atlantic, and small squadrons were sent to India, to the African coast, and the West Indies. The army was raised to a hundred thousand. In America Loudoun was superseded by Abercromby, Major-General Amherst was sent over, and twenty thousand provincial troops were put in the field. A three-fold offensive was planned. Forbes with about seven thousand men was to attack Fort Duquesne; Abercromby and Howe with fifteen thousand men were to clear the French from Lake Champlain, and Amherst with twelve thousand regulars aided by a powerful fleet under Admiral Boscawen was to attack Louisbourg.
Capture of Louisbourg.—Boscawen and Amherst rendezvoused at Halifax and on June 1, 1758, over a hundred and fifty vessels appeared before Louisbourg. Gradually the English forces encompassed the fortress. The French sunk several war vessels in the harbor mouth to prevent the entrance of the English fleet, but in the course of the bombardment three of the remaining French vessels caught fire and two others were destroyed by a night attack. The defences were battered down one by one and on July 26 Ducour, the French commander, offered to capitulate and six thousand prisoners of war passed into English hands.
Abercromby's defeat.—While the English were besieging Louisbourg, Abercromby led his army of fifteen thousand against Ticonderoga. Montcalm was in command of the French fortress, which was garrisoned by less than four thousand men. The English army crossed Lake George on a great flotilla, and on July 6 was within four miles of Ticonderoga. Abercromby foolishly thought that the fortifications could be rushed with the bayonet and on July 8 the attempt was made. The French fire mowed down the charging ranks with frightful slaughter. A desultory fight continued, followed by a second charge which also failed, and Abercromby, after losing nearly two thousand men, decided to retreat. In October Amherst took command of the forces which were encamped at the southern end of Lake George, but the season was too far advanced to attempt another great offensive in that region until spring.
Forts Frontenac and Duquesne.—The French forces on Lake Ontario had been weakened by withdrawals. Taking advantage of this, in August Lieutenant-Colonel Bradstreet led twenty-five hundred men against Fort Frontenac. The feeble garrison of one hundred soon surrendered, and the fort and ships in the harbor were destroyed. Lake Ontario was now in the hands of the English, and French control on the upper Ohio was weakening. General Forbes gathered a force of six or seven thousand men and advanced toward Fort Duquesne. Upon the approach of the English in November, the French destroyed the fortifications and scattered to the various western posts which they still possessed.
Kerlérec and the southern Indians.—That the English did not carry the war into the Southwest was due in no small part to the Indian policy of Kerlérec, the governor of Louisiana. The Creeks and Choctaws were traditionally favorable to the French, but their loyalty was always strained by the superior quality of English goods. Kerlérec made annual visits to Mobile to distribute presents, and prevented the Choctaws from threatened defection. Through his influence, in 1755 and again in 1757 the Creeks expelled Englishmen sent to establish posts among them, and murdered English traders. In 1757 Fort Massac was built on the Ohio to prevent an English expedition descending that stream or the Cumberland. At the same time the Shawnees returned to French allegiance.
The Cherokee War.—For three years Kerlérec intrigued with the Cherokees and succeeded in winning them over. He soon incited them to attack the settlements and many depredations occurred. In October, 1759, Governor Lyttleton of South Carolina, after a show of force, patched up a truce, but shortly afterward the Cherokees surrounded Fort Prince George and killed the commander and two others. The garrison then massacred Indian hostages within the fort, and immediately the southern frontier was ablaze with war. Hostilities assumed such proportions that it was necessary, early in 1760, for Amherst to send twelve hundred men to assist the colony. An expedition under Colonel Montgomery destroyed many Cherokee villages, but Montgomery's orders did not allow him to remain long in the colony, and in August he departed for New York. The Cherokees then captured Fort Loudoun. In 1761 an expedition of twenty-six hundred Highlanders and colonials under Colonel Grant was sent against the Indians. The heart of the Cherokee country was penetrated and the Indians were forced to sue for peace.
Operations in the West Indies.—Late in 1758 British reinforcements were sent to the West Indies to attempt the capture of the French island possessions, twenty-five vessels being gathered under Commodore John Moore. In January an attempt was made to take Martinique, but the French force of ten thousand regulars and militia prevented the occupation. During the following months Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, the Saintes, La Désirade, and Petit Terre surrendered to the English.
The campaigns of 1759.—Four expeditions against the French in North America were planned for 1759; one under Prideaux against Niagara, a second under Stanwix against settlements on Lake Erie, and a third under Amherst against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. The fourth under Vice-Admiral Saunders and Major-General Wolfe was directed against Quebec.
Niagara captured.—Prideaux arrived before Niagara in July. In the attack the general was accidentally killed and Sir William Johnson took command. He defeated a relieving force and the fort surrendered. The fall of Niagara made it unnecessary for Stanwix to proceed, and he devoted his energies to the building of Fort Pitt, on the site of modern Pittsburgh.
The fall of Quebec.—While Amherst was slowly moving toward Lake Champlain, the more important operations were proceeding against Quebec. The rendezvous was at Louisbourg. There were gathered nine thousand troops, thirty-nine men-of-war, ten auxiliaries, twenty-six transports, and a hundred and sixty-two other craft, manned by eighteen thousand men. In June the vast armament sailed up the St. Lawrence to attack the strongest fortification on the continent. For the defence of the city Montcalm was able to muster an army of seventeen thousand, four thousand of whom were French regulars. The city occupies a promontory which juts into the St. Lawrence. Behind it are the Plains of Abraham, a plateau with almost perpendicular cliffs. To the eastward flows the River St. Charles. Between the St. Charles and the Montmorency stretched the fortified French camp. The only weak place in the defence was Point Levis across the river. This Montcalm had wished to fortify but had been overruled by Vaudreuil.
On June 26 the fleet approached the city and Point Levis was immediately occupied. Then began a series of attacks upon the French positions below the city, but every assault was repulsed and frequently with heavy loss. It became evident that the French encampment could not be taken and the plan of attack was changed. The fleet, which formed a screen for land operations on the southern shore, had gradually succeeded in getting several vessels above the city, intercepting supplies and reinforcements. At a council of war an attack above the city was determined upon. Wolfe withdrew his forces from the Montmorency and they were transferred to a point above the town. This movement was covered by the movement of the ships, which continually passed up and down the river as if to make a landing. On September 12 Saunders bombarded the French camp below the city. Montcalm, completely deceived, hurried reinforcements to that quarter. Before dawn of September 13 Wolfe landed his first detachment at the foot of the cliffs two miles above the city. Up the steep side clambered a small party, who overcame the guard at the top. By sunrise forty-five hundred men had mounted to the Plains of Abraham. Montcalm made a desperate effort to regain the position but the battle went in favor of the English. Both Wolfe and Montcalm were killed. On September 17 the British troops entered Quebec, the key to the St. Lawrence.
Important naval operations.—Elsewhere the English were equally successful. In 1758 Sénégal and Gorée on the African coast had been captured, and in 1759 on the coast of India a French fleet was bested and abandoned the East Indian waters. Rodney destroyed a French fleet at Havre, Boscawen in August completely defeated the French Mediterranean fleet, and Hawke in November annihilated the channel fleet in a great battle near Quiberon Bay.
The French fail to recapture Quebec.—Although Quebec had fallen the French still had a formidable force in the field. The troops were withdrawn from Lake Champlain and new levies were raised. By April, 1760, Levis had gathered an army of eleven thousand men and he proceeded boldly to attempt the recapture of Quebec. A hard winter had greatly reduced the effectiveness of the English garrison and General Murray was able to meet the French with only three thousand men. On April 18 occurred the second battle on the Plains of Abraham. The artillery saved the English and the attack failed. An English fleet soon blocked the St. Lawrence and the possibility of aid from France was at an end.
The capture of Montreal.—The last important Canadian stronghold was Montreal, and here Vaudreuil and Levis made their final stand. Three English armies were sent against the place. Murray ascended the St. Lawrence, Haviland advanced from Lake Champlain, and Amherst with eleven thousand men proceeded from Lake Ontario down the St. Lawrence. The French, weakened by desertions and discouraged by defeats, offered little resistance; on September 8 articles of capitulation were signed and the struggle for New France was practically ended. Forts Miami, Detroit, Mackinac, and St. Joseph soon surrendered; of the mainland colonies Louisiana alone remained in the possession of France and this also she was destined to lose.
George III becomes king.—The year 1760 also saw the breaking of French power in India. Colonel Eyre Coote decisively defeated Count Lally at the battle of Wandewash and the next year Pondicherry was captured, putting an effectual end to French influence in the Carnatic. When English success was at its height George III ascended the throne of England. He opposed the war of conquest which Pitt was waging, desiring to break the power of the Whig oligarchy which long had dominated English politics. In 1761 Pitt resigned but the king was unable to bring the struggle to an immediate close, for Charles III of Spain renewed the family compact with France, and Spain entered the war.
Operations in the West Indies and the Philippines.—Against the new antagonist England's sea power was overwhelmingly superior. In 1761 Rodney was sent to take command in the West Indies. He found Dominica already in English hands. Rodney immediately ordered the blockade of Martinique and in February, 1762, the island was surrendered. Shortly afterward Granada, the Grenadines, and St. Lucia were occupied. Admiral Pocock was sent out with reinforcements, and a great fleet of fifty-three war vessels, besides transports and other craft, with an army of fifteen thousand proceeded against Havana. In June the place was invested by land and sea. On July 30 Moro Castle was carried by storm, and on August 13 the city surrendered. Nine ships of the line and loot to the value of £3,000,000 fell into English hands. The extinguishment of French power in India made it possible to turn attention to the Philippines, and a squadron under Draper was sent against Manila. The place was feebly garrisoned and quickly surrendered, the capitulation taking place on October 5.
The Peace of Paris.—France, Spain, and England were ready for peace. At the decisive moment Russia had turned to the side of Prussia, and Austria was unable to continue the war alone. France made overtures to England for peace, and on November 3, 1762, the preliminaries were signed. The definitive treaty between England, France, and Spain was signed at Paris on February 10, 1763. France surrendered to England Canada, St. John's, Cape Breton, and all that part of Louisiana which was east of the Mississippi except the Island of Orleans. France retained certain fishing rights on the Newfoundland banks and was given the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. She also obtained Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, and St. Lucia. Belle Isle and Gorée were restored to France, but England kept Sénégal. Minorca was restored to England. In Asia English conquests were restored to France but no fortifications were to be erected by her in Bengal. The preliminary agreements had arranged matters with Spain. In exchange for Havana, Florida was ceded to England. Manila was eventually restored to Spain as the news of the capture did not arrive until the preliminaries had been signed. Louisiana had been an expensive province, and Louis XV gladly surrendered all the territory west of the Mississippi and the Isle of Orleans to Spain as a compensation for the losses of his ally. France was virtually eliminated from America. England and Spain stood out as the world's great colonizing powers.
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