A Dictionary of American History

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Author: Thomas L. Purvis  | Date: 1995

Seven Years’ War

Seven Years’ War This war originated over disputed land claims to the Ohio valley. In 1753 French troops built Fort Presqu’Ile, Fort Le Boef, and Fort Machault within Pa.’s borders. In 1754 the French expelled an advance party of Va. troops sent by Colonel George Washington to fortify the forks of the Ohio, and then erected Fort Duquesne. Washington ambushed a French patrol 50 miles from Fort Duquesne on 28 May and the French retaliated by attacking his base at Fort Necessity, which the Virginians surrendered on 4 July.

Britain ordered a three-pronged offensive in 1755 to drive French troops from Fort Duquesne, Crown Point in N.Y., and Forts Beausejour and Gaspereau in Acadia. The French routed British forces eight miles from Fort Duquesne at Braddock’s Defeat. Colonial militia defeated a French and Indian expedition at the battle of Lake George, but then abandoned their advance on Crown Point. British forces took the French garrisons in Acadia, and then expelled 6,000 Acadians to the thirteen colonies.

George II formally declared war on France on 17 May 1756. The Marquis de Montcalm kept the British on the defensive by encouraging Indian raids on the frontier while he captured Oswego in 1756, took Fort William Henry in 1757, and inflicted massive British losses while defending Fort Ticonderoga in 1758. Under Prime Minister William Pitt and Major General Jeffery Amherst, Britain resumed the offensive in 1758 by capturing the fortresses of Louisbourg, Fort Frontenac, and Fort Duquesne.

In 1759 Amherst directed the capture of Fort Niagara, Fort Ticonderoga, and crown point. Brigadier General James Wolfe occupied Quebec (1759) by his victory at the Plains of Abraham. After a French siege failed to regain Quebec in 1760, Amherst took Montreal and accepted Canada’s formal surrender on 8 September.

Fighting then shifted to the frontier. Although French defeat ended Indian raids in the north, the Cherokee War erupted in early 1760 and continued until the summer of 1761. Pontiac’s War was a later consequence of the Seven Years’ War.

Britain declared war on Spain on 2 January 1762. Troops from North America helped take Havana, Cuba, in October. Britain capped its victory by acquiring Canada and Florida in the treaty of Paris (1763).

The war produced America’s first large-scale military mobilization. A minimum of 60,000 individuals served in colonial regiments and 11,000 enlisted in the Royal Army (a third of all redcoats). At least 30 percent of all free males aged 16 to 45 served in the army, and every fifth soldier evidently died in uniform.

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Chicago: Thomas L. Purvis, "Seven Years’ War," A Dictionary of American History in A Dictionary of American History (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Reference, 1995), Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NH6RV35TB6GFLR.

MLA: Purvis, Thomas L. "Seven Years’ War." A Dictionary of American History, in A Dictionary of American History, Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell Reference, 1995, Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NH6RV35TB6GFLR.

Harvard: Purvis, TL, 'Seven Years’ War' in A Dictionary of American History. cited in 1995, A Dictionary of American History, Blackwell Reference, Cambridge, Mass.. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8NH6RV35TB6GFLR.