The Great Frontier War: Britain, France, and the Imperial Struggle for North America, 1607-1755

The Great Frontier War: Britain, France, and the Imperial Struggle for North America, 1607-1755

The Great Frontier War: Britain, France, and the Imperial Struggle for North America, 1607-1755

The Great Frontier War: Britain, France, and the Imperial Struggle for North America, 1607-1755

Synopsis

For more than a century and a half, from 1607 to 1763, Britain and France struggled to master the eastern half of North America. They fought five blood-soaked wars and continuously provoked various Indian tribes to raise arms against each other's subjects for the mastery of the land. The last French and Indian War, from 1754 to 1760, would dwarf all previous conflicts in the number of troops, expense, geographical expanse, and total casualties. Placing the French and Indian War in a broad historical context, this study examines the struggle for North America during the two preceding centuries and includes not only the conflict between France and Britain, but also the parts played by various Indian tribes and the other European powers.

Excerpt

I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.

—George Washington

If asked when George Washington penned those valiant words, many might well attribute them to some battle of the American Revolution. Actually, Washington uttered them as a hotheaded, reckless, gangly youth of 23 in the French and Indian War (1754–1763), a struggle in which he fought for rather than against Britain. Indeed, no one was more responsible for sparking that war than Washington, first by trudging through the wilderness in the dead of winter with a message from Virginia Governor Dinwiddie to the French to abandon their forts in the upper Ohio River valley; then a half year later by ordering the war’s first shots when his troops ambushed Captain Jumonville; and finally, when he ignominiously surrendered his force at Fort Necessity and unwittingly signed a surrender document in French naming him Jumonville’s assassin! Washington was no hero on either side of the Atlantic in that war.

What is popularly known as the ‘‘French and Indian War’’ was the last and overwhelmingly the largest of five wars fought between the French and British for mastery over the eastern half of North America. The fighting raged not just in eastern North America but across swaths of Europe (where it was known as the Seven Years’ War), the Caribbean Islands, West Africa, India, the East Indies, Argentina, the Philippines, and on the seas linking those far-flung lands. The war was the first fought around the world.

Overshadowing the war’s scale was its results. The last French and Indian

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