French and Indian Wars

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Not to be confused with the French and Indian War, the name given to the fourth conflict of the following wars.

The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of intermittent conflicts between the years 1688 and 1763 in North America that represented colonial events related to the European dynastic wars. The title French and Indian War, in the singular, is used in the United States specifically for the warfare of 1754–1763, the North American colonial counterpart to the Seven Years' War in Europe. The French and Indian Wars were preceded by the Beaver Wars.

In Quebec, Canada, a former French colony, the wars are generally referred to as the War of the Conquest. While some conflicts involved Spanish and Dutch forces, all pitted the Kingdom of Great Britain, its colonies and Native American allies on one side against France, its colonies and Native American allies on the other.

A major cause of the wars was the desire of each country to take control of the interior territories of North America, as well as the region around Hudson Bay; both were deemed essential to domination of the fur trade. Whenever the European countries went to war, military conflict also occurred in North America in their colonies, although the dates of the conflicts did not necessarily exactly coincide with those of the larger conflicts.

Overview[edit]

The North American wars, and their associated European wars, in sequence, are:

Years of War North American War European War Treaty
1688–1697

King William's War
1st Intercolonial War (in French)[1]

War of the Grand Alliance
War of the League of Augsburg
Nine Years' War
Treaty of Ryswick (1697)
1702–1713

Queen Anne's War
2nd Intercolonial War

War of the Spanish Succession Treaty of Utrecht (1713)
1744–1748

King George's War
3rd Intercolonial War
War of Jenkins' Ear

War of the Austrian Succession Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)
1754–1763

The French and Indian War
4th Intercolonial War or War of Conquest (in Quebec)[2]
6th Indian War[3]

Seven Years' War Treaty of Paris (1763)

The naming of conflicts after the British monarch of the day is a convention in United States history related to its early European settlement as majority-English colonies. Canadian convention uses the name of the larger European conflict (e.g. the "War of the Grand Alliance" rather than "King William's War") or refers to the wars as the Intercolonial Wars.

As the wars proceeded, the military advantage moved toward the British side. This was chiefly the result of the greater population and productive capacity of the British colonies, compared with those of France. In addition, the British had the greater ability to resupply their colonies and project military power by sea. In the first three conflicts, the French were able to offset these factors largely by more effective mobilization of Native American allies, but they were finally overwhelmed in the fourth and last war.

The overwhelming victory of the British played a role in eventual loss of their thirteen American colonies. Without the threat of French invasion, the American colonies saw little need for British military protection. In addition, the people resented British efforts to limit their colonization of the new French territories to the west of the Appalachian Mountains, as stated in the Proclamation of 1763, in an effort to relieve encroachment on Native American territory. These pressures contributed to the American Revolutionary War.

The first three of the French and Indian Wars followed the same basic pattern: they all started in Europe and then moved to North America. Once the conflict broke out in North America, it was mostly fought by colonial militias'. The final conflict broke this pattern by beginning in North America. In addition, the British used more regular troops alongside colonial militia. They returned almost none of the French territory seized during the war. France was forced to cede its extensive territory in present-day Canada and Louisiane. The British victory in the French and Indian Wars reduced France's New World empire to St. Pierre and Miquelon, two islands off Newfoundland; a few West Indian islands; and French Guiana.

Timeline

Warfare[edit]

Operational goals[edit]

Fort Carillon controlled the portage between Lake George and Lake Champlain.

The belligerents strove in general to control the major transportation and trade routes, not just the sea routes that connected the colonies with the mother country, or the land routes that existed between the different colonies, but also the major fur trade routes leading to the interior of North America. This was normally along lakes and rivers and stretching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. Many Native American Nations lived by these routes, and became involved in the wars between the great powers of Europe. The belligerent built fortified positions at major transportation hubs and requested the help of the local Native population to defend these, and to attack the enemy's.[4]

European tactics[edit]

At Carillon the French won a rare victory in a battle fought according to European tactical doctrines.

A common view is that European combat methods and military tactics were not adapted to the American forests and to the Native American art of war. It is therefore conjectured, that the English colonists designed new combat techniques, inspired by the Indian combat methods. These techniques, which included cover and stressed ambushes, is supposed to have been the reason why the colonists finally defeated the French, and then the British army during the American Revolutionary War. In reality, however, the French and Indian wars were finally won by Britain through the application of traditional European tactics. The Fortress of Louisbourg surrendered twice after sieges conducted according to the rules of European warfare, and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham 1759 was a European battle fought in closed formations in the open.[5] [6]

Petty warfare[edit]

Native Americans ambushing Scottish Highlanders, who are counter attacking.

Although ultimately futile, the French fought according to the tactical doctrine contemporaries called la Petite guerre, or today's guerilla warfare. The numerical inferiority of the French forces in North America made it impossible to fight a war according to standard European tactics. Hence the French to a large extent made use of indigenous allies (see below). The small French population; New France's dependence on the fur trade, mutually profitable for both Frenchmen and Native Americans; and the common threat from the British colonies, made the indigenous peoples willing allies. The Battle of the Monongahela was the largest achievement of the petty warfare tactics. But at the end of the French and Indian War British numerical superiority became overwhelming, in spite of almost the whole male population of Canada being mobilized, and standard European tactics won the day and the war.[7]

European military forces[edit]

British[edit]

The British military forces consisted of the British Army's regular regiments and independent companies; the provincial regiments raised by the several colonies in British America, and the colonial militia.

British Army[edit]

The British Army had two types of units in North America; regular regiments serving in the colonies for a longer or shorter period of time, normally sent there only after the war had begun, and independent companies, permanently based in the colonies as garrisons of forts and fortresses. The British Army was largely recruited among the poor and the criminal classes; yet, the independent companies had lower status. Their ranks were often filled with people who had left the regular service; former soldiers mainly, but also deserters. The officers were often promoted non-commissioned officers. The independent companies became rooted in the local society, often transforming the military service into a sideline of a civilian occupation; remaining in the colonies after expiration of the enlistment period.[8]

Provincial troops[edit]

When war began, the several colonies organized its own military forces, provincial troops, through temporary enlistments. The soldiers came from the lower orders of society, which did not strengthen their reliability or efficiency. Massachusetts Bay, New York and Connecticut usually mobilized large contingents, while the southern colonies always very reluctantly contributed to the imperial cause. The British Army did not have very high opinions of the battleworthiness of the provincial troops, with the exception of the ranger units. During conjoint operations the provincial troops were subject to the very strict British Articles of War. The officers of the provincial troops had lower relative rank than the officers of the regular army; a provincial field officer ranked as a senior British captain, although these officers were members of the colonial elite, often members of colonial legislatures. Disputes concerning rank and precedent between regular and provincial officers were common. Junior provincial officers were often popular militia officers, who easily could recruit a company of men. [9] [10]

Colonial militia[edit]

Each colony had its own militia, which in principle contained all able-bodied men 16 to 60 years of age. In reality, however, membership in the militia were restricted to the more substantial members of society, since every militiaman had to provide himself with a musket, knapsack, powder, bullets, flints, and sword. Each local community organized its own militia. The officers were either appointed by the governor, or elected by the men. The main task of the local militia was local defense; rarely serving in the field, but acting as a more or less efficient home guard. [9] [10]

France[edit]

The Compagnies Franches de la Marine, the colonial marines, contained the core of the military forces of New France. It was only during the French and Indian War, that units from the Royal French Army were transferred to Canada. The colonial militia were more important than its counterpart in British America.

Marines[edit]

The French colonies were administrated through the secretary of state for the navy, and it was naval troops that garrisoned New France. The French marines were organized into independent companies, Compagnies franches. During the French and Indian War naval gunner-bombardier companies were also stationed in North America. The other ranks of the marines were enlisted in France, but the officer corps became increasingly Canadian through recruitment of officers' sons. All promotions were by merit; purchase of commissions were prohibited. Native born, raised by military fathers, since childhood used to hardships, accustomed to socializing with France's indigenous allies, these officers made the French colonial marines into the best wilderness warriors of the continent, in battleworthiness exceeding anything the British or their colonies could organize. The British rangers were an attempt to replicate the tactics of the French colonial marines. The Swiss regiment de Karrer also sorted under the Royal French Navy. It's depot was in Rochefort, but its companies served in North American and the Caribbean.[9] [11] [12] [13]

French Army[edit]

In 1754 six battalions from the regiments Artois, Béarn, Bourgogne, Guyenne, Languedoc, and La Reine were transferred to New France. In 1757 two additional battalions arrived from Royal Roussilon and La Sarre; followed the next year by two battalions from de Berry. An artillery company was also sent over the Atlantic.[11]

Colonial militia[edit]

The Canadian colonial militia enjoyed a substantially higher moral and battleworthiness than both the British provincial troops and the militia of the British colonies. This was only true, however, when employed as home guard or as wilderness warriors. Besides a combat role, the Canadian militia also fulfilled important tasks behind the lines, such as transportation and road building.[11] [13]

Indigenous allies[edit]

British allies[edit]

Through its location east and south of Lake Ontario, the Iroquois Leauge played an important strategic role in the struggle between Britain and France about the hegemony over northeastern North America. The League's aggressive military and commercial policy gave them control over large parts of the country, forcing many smaller Indian nations into submission. The Covenant Chain joined the Iroquois with the colony of New York and other British colonies; a compact that generally benefitted the parties, and ultimately was disastrous for France. In the longer term, however, the Covenant Chain was a tool of British imperialism, destructive to its Indian members.[4]

French allies[edit]

France recognized the independence of the indigenous nations, while at the same time claiming sovereignty over their territory, and the right to plead the cause of their native allies vis-à-vis other European powers. The French allies accepted this protectorate, since it permitted self-government and a traditional lifestyle. Without much missionary activity the Mi'kmaq and the Abenaki accepted Catholicism, as it confirmed their brotherhood with the French in the struggle against British colonial aggression. Alongside the Mi'kmaq and the Abenaki, France's chief allies were the indiens domiciliés (resident Indians), who lived at the Catholic missions in New France. Both religious reasons and the need for a refuge from the English attack motivated their dislocation to French territory. At the end of the French and Indian wars all resident Indians were joined in the confederation of the Seven Nations of Canada.[14]

Indian-White warfare[edit]

During the military clashes that had taken place between the European colonial powers and the North American indigenous peoples before the French and Indian wars, a pattern of warfare had emerged that also would characterize the four major French and Indian wars. The complex network of relations that had developed between some Native American nations and some colonial powers or colonies, were fundamental; the Indian nations becoming the allies or clients of the colonial powers. These alliances were a result of the economic ties that had been formed by the fur trade, and by the Indian Nations need for allies against their indigenous rivals. The warfare included the widespread, and over time escalating, abuse of civilians on all sides, in which settlements, both European and Native American, were attacked; the residents killed or abducted, and houses and crops burned.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Auguste Carlier, "Histoire du peuple américain. États-Unis, Volume 2", Paris, 1863, p.128[1]
  2. ^ Marcel Trudel, Guy Frégault, "La guerre de la conquête, 1754-1760", Montréal, 1955 [2]
  3. ^ William Williamson. The history of the state of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 304
  4. ^ a b c Douglas E. Leach (1988). "Colonial Indian Wars." Handbook of North American Indians 4: History of Indian-White Relations. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 128-143.
  5. ^ Lance Janda. Review of: Guy Chet (2003). Conquering the American Wilderness: The Triumph of European Warfare in the Colonial Northeast Amherst. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  6. ^ "Warfare tactics from British, not those of tribes, helped Americans win War of Independence, historian says." University of North Texas. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  7. ^ Rene Chartrand (1993-2000). Canadian Military History. Montreal: Art Global, vol. 1, pp. 74-76, 88-91, 94-95; vol. 2., pp. 20, 32.
  8. ^ Lee Offen, The British Military Presence in America, 1660-1720 Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  9. ^ a b c C.P. Stacey (1974). "The British Forces in North America during the Seven Year's War." Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, vol. 3: xxiv-xxx.
  10. ^ a b Robert K.Wright Jr, "Colonial Military Experience." The Society of Colonial Wars in Connecticut. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  11. ^ a b c W. J. Eccles (1974). "The French forces in North America during the Seven Year's War." Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, vol. 3: xv-xxiii.
  12. ^ René Chartrand (1984). The French Soldier in Colonial America. Bloomfield, Ont.: Museum Restoration Service.
  13. ^ a b Desmond Morton (1985). A Military History of Canada. Edmonton: Hurtig, pp. 18-23.
  14. ^ "Indigenous-French Relations." Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-02-12.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]