Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
"WE ARE NO LONGER A NATION"

A game of political cross-purposes begins. Britain and France appear to be at peace while each prepares for war. Admiral Boscawen provides the overt act that ends the pretense. General Braddock arrives at Williamsburg, calls an assembly at Albany to formulate plans and provide a united front. A not overly successful gathering. An expedition starts on its ill-omened way. The many delays. The Battle of the Monongahela and the death of Braddock culminate a crushing defeat. The Indians write off the English as of no more consequence. Two years of border outrage follow. English courage and confidence are dissipated in the New World and the Old. The emergence of William Pitt.

From a strictly practical standpoint, there is little doubt that both the victory and the defeat at Fort Necessity were vastly overstressed. Yet this small engagement in. an isolated backwater did profoundly affect the happenings of two continents.

English prestige had ebbed very low. If the Half-King's judgment reflected on both French and English, the Indian tribes, in the main, had assessed the situation differently. The English had been the aggressors, or so it seemed to the Indian mind. They had been defeated and compelled to retreat. There were now no English forces beyond the Alleghenies, and the Father of Waters did indeed "roll untroubled to the sea." France's life line was assured, and apparently the English colonies were content to do nothing but bicker among themselves. With so much evidence of division and failure, it was small wonder that the tribes should feel that the turn of Fortune's wheel undeniably had favored the French. So when this strange truce, in which men fought and killed and took land and lost it, finally burst into open

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