The French and Indian War: Control of North

The French and Indian War was an important dispute for the control of North America that was fought by Great Britain and France, as well as their native. The conflicts lasted from 1756 until 1763. Since it lasted for that long, it was also known as the Seven Years War. Many wars were fought between the English and the French that had a huge impact on North America that then later caused the American Revolution.

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The French and Indian War started in the early 1750’s. Around this time, the French were determined to secure the Ohio territory against the encroaching British and American traders and land speculators. The British ministry ordered colonial governors to repel the French advance “”by force”” if necessary. France was making an expansion into the Ohio River Valley controlled by the British colonies, this caused France to have armed conflicts with the British colonies. The result of France trying to expand led “Virginia’s Governor Robert Dinwiddie, an investor in the Ohio Company, to send George Washington, a 21-year old major in the Virginia militia, to Pennsylvania to demand a French withdrawal from the forts. The French refused and in the spring of 1754, Washington returned to Pennsylvania with about 160 men. The French defeated George Washington at Fort Necessity with their larger army. This was the first official battle of the French and Indian War and the only loss Washington had ever gotten.”

Following the surrender of Fort Necessity, “Britain ordered 60-year-old Major General Edward Braddock and a combined force of 3,000 redcoats and colonial militia to attack the French stronghold of Fort Duquesne at the site of present-day Pittsburgh. French and Indian forces ambushed the expedition eight miles from the fort, killing Braddock and leaving two-thirds of his soldiers dead or wounded.” One consequence of the debacle was that the French acquired a copy of the British war plans and saw everything coming before the British forces got to the fort,

The French were not the only ones with native allies, The Battle of Lake George/Fort William Henry was fought in 1755. On one side was 1,500 French and Indian troops under the command of the Baron de Dieskau. They were defeated by 1,500 Colonial troops under William Johnson and 200 Mohawks led by a noted war chief, Hendrick Theyanoguin. As this was occuring, a soldier’s diary captured the accounts that were going on at the time of the battle. “We received intelligence that a number of Indians supposed to consist of one hundred killed two men about two miles from the Fort [Bellowe’s Fort], took the man’s heart and cut it in two and laid it on his neck, and butchers the other most barbarously, sought a house near the Fort, wounded one man that he died about an hour after our arrival.” From this soldiers diary, we can see how wild and non merciful natives killed men brutally even so near to the fort of the British.

The plan to get back at the French and to possibly get a victory was to launch campaigns to Lake George and Champlain to reach Fort Edwards and then make his way with his troops and mohawks to crown point to control both lakes. But Williams did not expect to get ambused from Dieskau and the French three miles south of Lake George. “Unaware of the danger, Williams’ men marched directly into the French trap. In an action later referred to as the “”Bloody Morning Scout,”” the French caught the British by surprise and inflicted heavy casualties. Among those killed were King Hendrick and Williams who were shot in the head. With Williams dead, Colonel Nathan Whiting assumed command.” Since the British were surrounded, they began to flee and to do so, they shot as they retreated. In doing so, Colonel Whiting and his troops were able to inflict damage to the French by killing many of them also even killing the leader of the French Indians, Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre. “The victory at the Battle of Lake George marked one the first victories for American provincial troops over the French and their allies.

In addition, though fighting around Lake Champlain would continue to rage, the battle effectively secured the Hudson Valley for the British.” The Battle of Fort William Henry or Massacre at Fort William Henry was General Montcalm’s siege and capture of the British–held Fort William Henry in August 1757. Before the siege, The British gradually increased their presence in the Lake George area and by 1757, they had completed a road through the dense forest from Fort Edward. In the late summer of that year, a French army unsuccessfully attacked British forces under William Johnson on the south shore of the lake.

The victorious British solidified their position by constructing the wood-walled Fort William Henry, which was designed to serve as a base of operations for future campaigns against the northern French positions. British General Daniel Webb had visited Fort William Henry, but withdrew to the safer confines of Fort Edward after receiving reports of the advent of the large French army. Lieutenant Colonel George Munro (Monro) was left at the fort in charge of 2,200 soldiers. Montcalm arrived in the area in August 1757 and commenced a protracted artillery attack; as the days passed, the French slowly tightened their lines around the fort. Monro was not going to leave. Here is a quote from a diary that Lieutenant Monro said about the French coming to Fort William Henry. It was retorted that he had only one reply: …. “I am determined, to defend the Fort, to the last, And I believe it is the resolution, of every Man, under my Command.”” From the bastions the defenders continued their “”warm”” bombardment of French positions. This constant firing had disastrous results. Mortars and cannon soon were honeycombed and burst at the muzzles; but the desperate hope for reinforcements from the south caused Monro and his men grimly to hold on from the third to the seventh of August. Surely General Webb would not abandon them to the tender mercies of Montcalm’s savage allies.”

Nevertheless, Montcalm’s looming victory was threatened by shortages of ammunition and supplies. Before the general could order a retreat, the French intercepted a message sent by Webb in which he expressed his inability to bring reinforcements and urged Munro to surrender. The note was quickly passed to its intended recipient under a flag of truce and the British, lacking any other alternative, negotiated terms of surrender. The French agreed to allow their foes (British) to leave for Fort Edward in possession of their sidearms and a token cannon. The Fort formally changed hands on August 9. The “massacre” part of Fort William Henry occured from Indian allies with the french who were not happy that they had not received their pay in gold, the following events differ widely. “All authorities agree that the natives, many intoxicated by liquor, attacked soldiers and civilians in the British party. There is also general agreement that Montcalm and other French officers acted honorably and risked their lives by trying to stop the slaughter since the British had surrendered but the killing was detrimental. Some contemporaries reported that as many as 1,500 men, women and children were shot, scalped, and bludgeoned to death.”

After the Battle at Fort William Henry, the battles that followed went both sides. The Battle that officially gave the British control of everything before the Treaty of Paris was the Battle of Quebec. This battle was significant because it was in the French Territory. The climactic battle of the conflict took place on September 12-13, 1759. After laying siege to the city of Qu©bec for three months, 5,000 British regulars sailed past the city and secretly scaled the cliffs leading to the Plains of Abraham, west of the city, under cover of darkness. The French moved quickly to repel the surprise attack, but within 15 minutes, the battle was decided. Captain John Knox had a first-hand account of the decisive battle that brought an end to French rule over Canada, “This grand enterprise was conducted and executed with great good order and discretion; as fast as we landed, the boats put off for reinforcements… We lost no time here, but clambered up one of the steepest precipices that can be conceived, being almost a perpendicular, and of an incredible height.

As soon as we gain the summit all was quiet, and not a shot was heard… The general then detached the light troops to our left to rout the enemy from their battery, and to disable their guns, except they could be rendered serviceable to the party who were to remain there; and this service was soon performed.” This first quote by Captain John Knox showed how prepared the british army was and knew exactly what they had to do. Right as the ship landed with troops it went back to get more. It even explains how the army did not waste any time by setting up their guns and organizing the troops to be prepared for engagement with the French. Returning to the battle, the captain also found that with “steadiness, together with the havoc which the grapeshot from our field pieces made among them, threw them into some disorder, and was most critically maintained by a well-timed, regular, and heavy discharge of our small arms, such as they could no longer oppose.

Hereupon they gave way, and fled with precipitation, so that, by the time the cloud of smoke was vanished, our men were again loaded, and, profiting by the advantage we had over them, pursued them almost to the gates of the town and the bridge over the little river, redoubling our fire with great eagerness, making many officers and men prisoners.” The captain also wrote about the willingness and steadiness the troops had to hold back the opposition with attacks starting of not as strong at first, but at the end doubled in power. There was even large amounts of smoke in the air from all the bayonet shots, a result of this was that is forced the French to lose advantage and give the British power to pursuit them to the gates of the town and towards the bridge, were they caught many of the of the officers and troops of the french and made them prisoners, ending the battle of quebec with a victory with the british.

After losing the Battle of Quebec, the French were not able to get another victory and because of that, they had to surrender and sign The Treaty of Paris of 1763. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years’ War between Great Britain and France, as well as their respective allies. In the terms of the treaty, France gave up all its territories in mainland North America, effectively ending any foreign military threat to the British colonies there. “Despite what seemed like a success, the Treaty of Paris ultimately encouraged dissension between Anglo-American colonists and the British Government because their interests in North America no longer coincided. The British Government no longer wanted to have an expensive military presence in the colonies, and its attempts to manage a post-treaty frontier policy that would balance colonists’ and Indians’ interests would prove ineffective and even counterproductive.” The British faced problems between the imperial government and colonists on how to levy taxes to pay for debts on wartime expenses, the Treaty of Paris ultimately set the colonists on the path towards seeking independence, even as it seemed to make the British Empire stronger than ever.

In conclusion, The French and Indian War was a very important war that gave Britain control over North America by defeating the French. The War prevented France and any other countries from coming to take control of this new nation. At the same time, it gave way for the colonies to fight for independence from the British Empire that made the colonies pay taxes for Britain’s war, later causing the American Revolution. Without the Seven Years War, we would all be British. Thanks to the French and Indians for making us pay for taxes, it made America what it is today.

Bibliography

Primary Source

Franklin, Benjamin, John Jay, and John Adams. “Paris Peace Treaty 1783.” Andrew Carnegie Wealth June 1889. Accessed February 20, 2019. http://www.let.rug.

Knox, John. “The Capture of Quebec.” Capture of Quebec, 1757. Accessed February 19, 2019. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu.

Hats, Minis. Hats, Minis. “The Siege of Fort William Henry.” A Journal Kept During The Siege of Fort William Henry, August 1757. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://archive.org.

“Treaty of Paris, 1763.” U.S. Department of State. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://history.state.gov.

Knox, John. “The Capture of Qu©bec.” The Capture of Qu©bec, September 12, 1759. ……..http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu.

“Fort William Henry “Massacre.” Fort William Henry “Massacre”. Accessed April 17, 2019. ………https://www.u-s-history.com.

Jacobs, Wilbur R. “A Message to Fort William Henry: An Incident in the French and Indian War.” Huntington Library Quarterly: 373-74. https://www.jstor.org/pdf.

“The Seven Years’ War.” Digital History. Accessed April 17, 2019…………. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu.

Lucido, Aimee. “Battle Of Lake George.” World History Project. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://worldhistoryproject.org.

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Fred. The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.

Leckie, Robert. A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. New York: Wiley, 2006.

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The French and Indian War: Control of North. (2020, Apr 14). Retrieved June 26, 2022 , from
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