Thursday, February 10, 2005

On this day in military 1763

On this day in military history….in 1763. The Treaty of Paris ends the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War (the Seven Year’s War for Europeans) was one of the first true “world wars” with fighting taking place over the entire world. The British got the ball rolling when fighting broke out in the Ohio Valley and eventually spread to Europe and the rest of the globe. The British fought the French in North American, Europe, the Caribbean, the Philippines, India and coastal Africa. By the time the war was over, Great Britian, Prussia, Hannover, France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Saxony, Spain and Portugal had been sucked into the conflict.

Most of the fighting of the French and Indian War took place in Canada and the Ohio River Valleys. The decisive battle was the French defeat at Quebec by the British. The Treaty of Paris forced the French to give up most of her possessions in North America to the British. Now you know why Canada has a French-speaking minority. An interesting aside about Canada and the French. English-speaking Canada calls themselves “canadian”, however, French-speaking Canada call themselves “canadien” (Canadian) and English-speaking Canada “anglais” (English).

More interesting info about the French and Indian War. The war got started when General (then Colonel) George Washington was ordered to take his Virginia militia to the Ohio Valley and force the French out. The French had built a fort (Fort Duquesne) on the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers (present day Pittsburgh) and Washington was on his way there to ask them to leave (this was back when war was civilized). The French refused to leave (sound like Monty Python?) and so he built another fort, Fort Necessity (close to present Uniontown, Pennesylvania), and waited. Eventually, the French showed up and he was forced to surrender. George Washington was also a part of British General Braddock’s failed expedition to take Fort Duquesne at the Battle (more of an ambush) of the Monongahela.

Another bit of military history. The French and Indian War was a very brutal war where civilians were massacred on a regular basis. The reason for this was that both the French and the British had Indian allies that were only too happy to kill women and children of their enemies since this was how war was fought on the North American continent before the Europeans arrived. Ergo, the "civilized rules of war" of Europe did not have much sway during the war.

The James Fennimore Cooper novel, The Last of the Mohicans, is also set during the French and Indian War in upstate New York at Fort William Henry. During the actual war, Fort William Henry was forced to surrender to the French and when the British forces left the fort, the French Indian allies attacked and massacred many of the survivors. The siege of Fort William Henry and subsequent massacre play an important roll in the story. If you desire a Hollywood/Cliff Notes version of the novel, the 1992 movie, The Last of the Mohicans (duh!) starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeline Stowe is a good start. I went and saw the film and thought it was pretty good with all the "killin's and scalpin'" going on. I told Cap’n Holly to go see it and he said that he couldn’t go without his wife and she probably wouldn’t like it so I told him to tell her it was “love” story (Don’t laugh. If you think about it, it is.) then she would want to see it. I don't remember if it worked or not.


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