The Seven Years' War

Looks into the struggle with France that Britain dealt with from 1740 until 1763 

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  • Created by: Ben
  • Created on: 19-05-13 12:23

The Wars

From 1689 until 1763 England and France faced each other in 4 wars.

  • The War of the League of Augsburg (1689 - 1697)
  • The War of Spanish Succession (1702 - 1713)
  • The War of Austrian Succession (1744 - 1748)
  • The Seven Years' War (1756 - 1763)

The first three were situated in Europe, and were based around the balance of power within Europe. 

The Seven Years' War spread across the Atlantic.

They were eager to defeat the French and Spanish. The Spanish Catholicism was something that the British did not want anything to do with.  They regarded it with fear and suspicion.

The colonists did the majority of the fighting in the first three wars as Britain was far too caught up in events in Europe to send them help.

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Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle

18th October 1748 (when the treaty was signed)

This handed Louisbourg back to France after the colonials had captured in 1745

This ended The War of Austrian Succession.

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The Albany Congress

June 1754

Asked colonies from Virginia and every colony north of them to send delegates to Albany in order for them to discuss a joint Indian policy.

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748 was seen as a truce by Amercia. So once it was signed by Britian/France they doubled their efforts to control the Ohio Valley.

The Board of Trade recognised that Indian support could be vital in the struggle against the French. 

The Albany Congress FAILED to secure an alliance with the Iroquois.

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Fort Duquesne (1)

1753 - 1755

Some planters from Virginia organised a Ohio Company which was off limits to the British government, they had about 200,000 acres in the Allegheny region

The French began to build a chain of forts between Lake Erie and the Allegheny River.

French army consisted of 100 regular soldiers, 200 Canadian soldiers and about 1000 Indians.

George Washington with a Virginian force went to stop them from doing such a thing. But, France were already in control of the key site (The forks of the Ohio River) where they were building Fort Duquesne.

The fighting that followed caused Washington to surrender in July 1754.

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Battle of the Monongahela

July 1755

After hearing about the fighting in Virginia regarding Fort Duquesne, Britain sent General Braddock (oh dear) along with 2000 troops (who were below strength) to America to help. 

On his journey, Braddock got caught up in a battle. He was killed and his army were defeated in July 1755. This was known as the Battle of the Monongahela (as it was situated near the Monongahela river)

What happened?

  • Braddock arrived in Virginia in March 1755
  • Braddock and his troops were delayed from leaving their camp by the lack of supplies that government had failed to provide them with.
  • Once they got going they were slowed down by the condition of the roads and all the wagons they had with items in (They averaged 4 miles a day).
  • By 18th June Braddock had reached his destination, and he decided to split his force. He took 1,200 men and let the rest go a different way. A special team was put under the control of Gage to advance forward (to avoid a surprise attack)
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Battle of the Monongahela (2)

  • Instead of pushing forward with his men, General Gage decided to fall back.
  • French/Indians had already seized the high ground (possibly due to Braddock's slow start)
  • The French/Indians flanked the British in the woods, and as the British were in two clusters it made it easier for them to attack and surround Gage and Braddock
  • Fighting in the woods made it very difficult, as the Indians knew this area very well so could tactically sneak around. Also, the trees were big and thick so seeing what you were shooting at made it very difficult.
  • After 3 hours of fighting British forces fell back towards the river. 800 of their men had either been killed or wounded and Braddock was one of them.
  • The French had lost 3 officers, 4 wounded and 10 soldiers killed
  • The Indians lost between 19 and 100. (very broad, i know)
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Battle of the Monongahela (3)

Why did Braddock lose at the Monongahela?

  • No experience
  • Underestimation of French
  • Lack of Indian soldiers (7), where as the French had 200. The Indians were familiar with the area and offered a different fighting style.
  • Linear warfare was not the right method for this battle, they needed width instead rather than bulk in the middle
  • SLOW - Did not set off quick enough, lost ground so French/Indians could settle. Thanks to all the possessions brought along, completely unnecessary.
  • Advised to change his tactics but did not.
  • Gage's fleet were too far ahead of Braddock to communicate with if an attack was to take place on either of them. 
  • Braddock became complacent once he got closer to Fort Duquesne , this meant they were not as switched on and left themselves vulnerable to an attack, which is exactly what happened.
  • Timing was an unfortunate factor, they encountered the French/Indians at a bad time.
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The Seven Years' War

1756 - 1763

Britain finally declared war on France in 1756. Fighting took place all over the world. In places such as West Indies, Africa, India and North America.

  • French General Montcalm captured Fort Oswego in 1756
  • He also captured Fort William Henry in 1757
  • These were both in America, bordering on Canada.


This reflected the inability of the British Commander Loudon to cooperate with the colonies to defend their land together.

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The Seven Years' War

William Pitt

William Pitt was recalled into power in 1757 and things took a dramatic turn for the better.

Pitt wanted to expand Britain's imperial power, and he thought that the defeating the French in North America was key in winning.

He sent 25,000 troops to America under Amherst and James Wolfe and put his own money towards getting 25,000 American Colonists. Colonists were paid very well to help the British

Pitt also provided subsidies to Frederick the Great of Prussia to preoccupy the French in Europe.

British forced captured Louisbourg and cut the link between Canada and the Mississippi Valley by taking Fort Frontenac. The lead to the re-capture of Fort Duquesne (later renamed Fort Pitt). This all happened in 1758.

In 1760 George III wanted peace.

Pitt resigned in October 1761 because the cabinet refused to extend the war to include Spain.

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French Problems

Montcalm was worried about troops. His regular forces were less than the British. His strategy was to play for time and hope that he got more men, or that France starting winning in Europe.

Locals were unreliable and so were the Indians. The Indians reccently came down with case of smallpox and immediatley blamed it on the French. 

King Louis was more concerned with the on going problems in Europe rather than America so focused more on that.

They wanted to hold Fort Ticonderoga and then retreat to Quebec, and would leave isolated forts such as Louisbourg on their own because they did not feel the need to try and protect them.

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The Battle of Fort Tionderoga

July 8th 1758

Abercromby had 20,000 militia by 1758, but they were untrained and badly disciplined.

Abercromby couldn't rely on help from Indians, they were unwilling to commit after their poor battle form at Fort William Henry and Fort Oswego.

General Howe/Gage were given 15,000 men.

They managed to get to the fort via the lake that ran past it.

It was stated that the journey to the Fort had "taken breath out of British army" (they were shattered basically) 

Montcalm made use of the higher ground and dense vegetation around the Fort.

Abercromby had no idea of the surroundings of the fort, but was still committed to the attack. He had no back up support, and as the French were on high ground they shot down the British attackers like "pigeons". The British were isolated so Abercrombie called in a retreat, this made people see him as a coward.

This was a British loss.

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The Battle of Louisbourg

The Battle of Louisbourg

(This was a navy based battle)

  • 27th July 1758
  • General Amherst and Brigadier (General) Wolfe were the men in charge.
  • The French planned to defend Louisbourg with a large navy build-up. However, the French navy was blocked by British forces in Cartagena 
  • It was defended by 3500 French troops, with as many sailors in ships and hundreds of Indians.
  • Amherst blockaded French ports to stop reinforcements coming in.
  • Wolfe managed to find a gap in the French defence and thrust himself into it, he saw the space and darted into it.
  • Amherst then directed siege and continued bombarding with his navy force.
  • The French surrendered on the 26th.
  • 172 killed and 355 wounded, while the French suffered 102 killed, 303 wounded.
  • The victory at Louisbourg opened the way for the British to campaign up the St. Lawrence River with the goal of taking Quebec.
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Battle of Fort Frontenac

Battle of Fort Frontenac

August 27th 1758

Bradstreet proposed attacking Frontenac. (This was a key link in the chain between Ohio and St Lawrence)

It was weakly defended.

Bradstreet took 3600 men, losing 600.

He surprised the French by sailing up the river and attacking them.

The French could do little to defend such a large military force, so they surrendered on the 27th.

The British stole a lot of the supplies that the French were storing there and destroyed a lot of goods before leaving

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Battle at Fort Duquesne (2)

November 1758

  • Britain had lost a lot of men due to their efforts at Ticonderoga.
  • Britain had messed up negotiations with Indian allies, who were keen to fight with them as they were winning. (Indians/Iroquois were very fickle glory hunters)
  • Forbes wanted to capture Fort Duquesne so travelled via Pennsylvania instead of Virgina, which was the route that Braddock famously failed on.
  • This, however, took longer and Forbes became very ill. So his second in command took over his post for the time being; Bouquet.
  • Bouquet ordered a rash advance attack on September 14th of 750 men under James Grant
  • This French were confused as to whether this was a seize or an attack. 
  • The French easily rejected this attack and the British ended up losing 300 men, the other 450 retreated.
  • In October, the French began getting worried about their lack of supplies at Duquesne so they launched a big counter attack of 1200 to try to end the battle. This was not successful and the British managed to hold them off.
  • 2nd November - Forbes returned from his illness. Forbes was cautious that winter was on its way, so he wanted to finish the battle. He went in with 2500 men. All guns blazing.
  • This scared the French, so they abandoned without a fight as they were outnumbered.
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The Seven Years' War

The greatest triumphs however came in 1759.

Admiral Hawke destroyed a French fleet at Quiberon Bay which prevented France from sending reinforcements to Canada.

Britain captured Guadaloupe in the West Indies

Britain launched a three-pronged attack on Canada from the mouth of the St.Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. General Wolfe's win over Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham ensured that Quebec was captured and the French power in Canada was destroyed

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September 1759

French advantages:

  • They were on higher ground (100/200 metres up on a cliff)
  • St. Lawrence River separated British forces from the Fort.
  • British struggling with supplies
  • Disease was spreading within the camp
  • 1/3 of British couldn't fight due to illness.

What happened?

  • The British camp was set up across the St Lawrence River
  • If the British tried to cross the river, the French would shoot at them and kill them. 
  • So, Wolfe came up with a master plan. He had to get the moons and tide to coincide so that they were invisible to the French gunmen and that the river was able to sail on.
  • This took a large amount of patience (6 weeks)
  • On the other side of the river was a cliff path that they could travel up.
  • Wolfe wanted to take 45,000 men and canons with him, this would take up 5 hours.
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Quebec (2)

  • This battle will be determined by fighting skills as they both had similar number. (4,400 British and 4,500 French)
  • Montcalm believed that his men were well disciplined
  • Montcalm decided to leave the walls of Quebec and enter a field battle against the British.
  • This left them a bit isolated, and this was the perfect situation for Britain to use their famous linear warfare.
  • The French fired first (great dicipline) and missed.
  • The battle lasted 10 minutes in total
  • The French fled from the scene and then surrendered 4 days later 
  • These mistakes from Montcalm is fundamentally seen as the reasons why they lost at Quebec.
  • Wolfe was wounded in battle and died on the battleground, where as Montcalm was wounded in battle but died in hospital. Not a proper Generals death.
  • British: 58 killed, 596 wounded
  • French: 200 killed and 1,200 wounded

Why did the British win: Wolfe's patience, Montcalm's mistake, momentum of war was with British, Linear warfare helped in this situation.

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Peace of Paris

10th February 1763 - When the treaty was signed

The terms of the treated stated that:

  • Britain recieved Canada and all of the French possessions east of Mississippi
  • Britain acquired most of France's West Indian islands
  • Britain were to be given Florida but gave Cuba and the Philippines back to the Spanish.
  • France were to give up Louisiana to Spain.


It was signed by Britain, France and Spain. 

It ended the Seven Years' War (The French - Indian War)

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