War! Today let’s look at what I call the First World War. It was fought in the 1750s and was very important in forming the British Empire.
How did the Seven Years War start? Well, first, let’s ask another question. Have you heard of the French and Indian War? Well, the French and Indian War was only a small part of the Seven Years War.
In 1754 Colonel George Washington, yes, the same George Washington of the American Revolution, was leading a small body of men to help protect some British men who were building a fort in the northwest wilderness. However, some of the Indians who were with Washington saw a detachment of French heading their way. Washington, not waiting to find out what the French were doing, attacked and defeated the French. Only one French solider escaped.The commander of the French, Joseph Coulon de Villies de Jumonville, was killed in the aftermath of the skirmish. Washington and his men pressed on to the fort only to find that the British workers were gone. Washington seized the fort, also know as Fort Necessity. But soon Jumonvillle’s brother attacked Washington and won. Thus,the Seven Years War started in the colonies.
The British sent General Braddock to suppress the French. Twelve hundred men were sent with Braddock. General Braddock, who had recruited Washington, was trying to reach Fort Duquesne. The forest seemed to be on the enemies’ side, but eventually Braddock reached the river by the fort. Braddock wanted to cross the river; however, Washington advised Braddock not to go. Braddock didn’t heed Washington council, and on July 8,1755, the Battle of Monongahela started. As soon as Braddock crossed the river, the French and Indians attacked. Even though the British had more men, they were out skilled. Eight hundred eighteen men were either killed or captured. Braddock was hit and a few days later he died. However, despite many defeats, the British gained the upper hand. In fact, in 1759, also known as the Annus mirabilis or Year of Miracles, they captured three French forts, Ticonderoga, Québec, and Fort Niagard.
But the Seven Years War was much bigger than the skirmish in the colonies. But first, let’s get some background. In 1756 the Diplomatic Revolution happened. What was it? Well, before 1756 the alliances between nations in Europe were as follows: Britain was allied with Austria and France was allied with Prussia. However,the Diplomatic Revolution changed all that. So now Britain was with Prussia and France with Austria. The Seven Years War was Britain, Prussia, Portugal, and Hanover vs. France, Austria, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. Prussia did very well in the war, and when the French and Austrians invaded Prussia, they were driven back. Britain did very badly in the beginning, but in 1759 that changed ,and the British stared dominating their enemies.
The Seven Years War was also fought in colonies. The West African coast, India, Philippines, South America, and the Caribbean were all disputed and fought over places.
But in 1763 the Treaty of Paris was signed. All of the lands that were fought over were returned to status quo ante bellum. Britain gained most of Florida and Cuba. They also captured some French colonies. They gained most of India. The British Empire had began to become a dominate world power.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this essay.
Samuel Duarte JM