The French-Indian Wars

  By Hope, 2006; Revised


At Fort Duquesne, the French only had 250 troops. Their Indian allies had camped outside the fort, counting 640 Natives. The Natives were from many different tribes, because the French had long diplomatic ties with a number of nations. The French commander at Fort Duquesne knew that his army would stand no chance at Braddock’s cannon. Therefore, he launched an attack at Monogahela River.

The French attacked the British army the July 9. It is said to have been an ambush, but in fact it was a front to front attack. The attack caused havoc among the British soldiers, and many of the militiamen escaped into the forest. In the chaos and panic, some of them were in fact mistaken for enemies, and shot dead.  The battle lasted for three hours, and then the Brits escaped. Braddock died on the return, and the British had suffered great losses: 456 men were killed, and 421 wounded while the French had about 28 dead and 28 wounded. The Indians suffered least with 11 dead and 29 wounded.

The Death of General Wolfe
The Death of General Wolfe
June 26 1759, the British soldiers besieged Quebec. The British forces were commanded by General James Wolfe, and were supported by the navy. The British had control of most of the Saint Lawrence River and terrorized the surrounding farms and settlements, destroying supply lines to Quebec. On September 13, Wolfe marched some of his troops to The Plains of Abraham, an area outside Quebec. Commander of Quebec, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, was advised not to encounter the British, but he did. The British soldiers counted 5140 soldiers, so Montcalm sent only 6500 troops to fight. The charge was a disaster for the French, and though Wolfe died, he lived long enough to be sure that the British had been victorious. Montcalm died too, later that night.

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham is important to mention, since it was the turning point where British troops got the upper hand in Canada. Montreal fell in 1760, thus ending the French and Indian War. The treaty of Paris 1763 ensured the British rights to Canada and most other French holdings in Americas apart from Newfoundland. The French had only one alternative, and that was to give up their claims on Guadaloupe in the Caribbean; an island the French government meant was more valuable than Canada.

In 1754, the frontier land of Ohio River was a skirmish zone between French and British colonialists. Two great Indian nations both claimed control of the area; the Shawnees and the Iroquois. The Shawnees had been driven out by the Iroquois in the late 1600s, but had returned to claim the area. The Iroquois were allied with the British, while the Shawnees and their companions were allies of the French. The Shawnees did so because they had been expelled from Pennsylvania by the British after their escape from Ohio. The Shawnees considered the British untrustworthy, because they had been expelled due to a treaty, which the Shawnees found most unjust. Because of this, both Shawnees and Lenapes raided British settlement, leading to open conflict. French troops attacked and burned Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754. The commander of the British forces was George Washington, aged 22.

General Braddock is Wounded
General Braddock is Wounded
The British tried the following year to conquer Fort Duquesne. General Edward Braddock led his troops – consisting of two British regiments and colonial militiamen – to what he expected to be an easy victory at Fort Duquesne. Braddock was wrong. Even though he was an experienced tactician and a saluted officer, he had problems adapting to new ways of war, such as the guerilla tactics of the Indians. Also, fighting in dense forests were totally strange for the British soldiers. Most of all, his problems were caused by his extreme arrogance. He had no faith in the colonial militiamen, whom he considered to be but farmers unable to succeed in battle. Additionally, he badly underestimated the strength of the Native Americans. Even though he had contempt for them as warriors, he tried to forge alliances with the neutral tribes such as the Mingos and the Lenapes – also called Delaware. It was difficult for the Indians to choose side in the conflict. The French were the friendliest, and had normally a great respect and understanding for their allies whom they almost treated as equals. In addition, the French kept a policy of giving gifts; guns, knives, carpets and so on. The British, on the other hand, were brutal and hard against Indians. Because of this, an alliance with them would at least prevent fierce attacks from the redcoats, which was the name of the British soldiers. The Indians wisely wanted to see who emerged victorious, before making a decision. On his expedition, Braddock only had eight Mingo scouts. He had also been promised some reinforcements from the Tuscarora tribe in Virginia, but they never came. Braddock was all but sorry for that.

The travel started May 29, and consisted of 500 militiamen, 1 350 British soldiers – the size of two regiments – and of course numerous of wagons, drivers and a cannon. Their largest problem was how to transport their equipment and men through dense woodland, and they advanced about two miles a day. To make this easier, Braddock divided his troops into two columns. The first consisted of 1500 troops commanded by Braddock himself, while the other was the supply column, only protected by what was left of the soldiers. This proved very unsuccessful. With the latter column badly protected, French and Natives often made small ambushes.