Timeline of the “French and Indian” War
(including events from around the world)
The “French and Indian War” was the North American phase (1754-60) of the “Seven Years’ War,” sometimes called the “Great War for the Empire,” but in all events the first war that truly spanned the globe, causing conflicts on five continents. Major combatants included Britain, France, their respective colonies, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. Bloodshed, while shocking enough in North America, was far more severe in continental Europe, especially Austria and Germany.
1752-1753: The government of New France, concerned about an influx of English traders and trappers in the Ohio River watershed, builds four new forts in what is now western Pennsylvania.
December 1753: Virginia's “ultimatum,” carried by young George Washington to the French at Fort Le Boeuf (near modern Erie, PA) to protest the creation of these new forts, is rejected.
May 28, 1754: The first bloodshed: Washington defeats a small French unit in a surprise attack south of Fort Duquesne. His troops pull back and build Fort Necessity (near modern Uniontown, PA).
July 3, 1754: The French take Fort Necessity and the surviving Virginians retreat.
July 17, 1754: Washington's resignation: Blamed for the debacle at Fort Necessity, Washington resigns. He will later return as a volunteer under British authority.
June 17, 1755: The British seize Acadia (Nova Scotia). They forcibly expel the entire Francophone population, over 12,000 people – a policy known today as “ethnic cleansing.”
July 9, 1755: The Battle of the Wilderness: British General Braddock's forces are defeated on the Monongehela River near Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania, leaving the backwoods of British-claimed territory still undefended.
September 9, 1755: The Battle of Lake George: British Colonel Sir William Johnson's forces win, making Johnson the first British hero of the war. [This event is described by Colin in Chapter 4 of Die Fasting.] They build Fort William Henry on the south shore of Lake George.
May 8-9, 1756: Declarations of War: Though a great deal of blood had already been shed, no one had made it official. Great Britain and France reciprocally declare war on each other. Previously-arranged international alliances immediately also involve Prussia and many Protestant German states (allied with England), Austria, Sweden, and Russia (allied with France). Europeans call this conflict “the Seven Years’ War,” because it officially lasted from 1756 until the Peace of Paris in 1763.
June 28, 1756: British naval base at Minorca (Balearic Islands, Spain) surrenders after French siege.
August 14, 1756: Fort Oswego: The French capture this fort on the south bank of Lake Ontario (modern Oswego, NY).
August 30, 1756: Frederick II (“the Great”) of Prussia abruptly invades Saxony and occupies the city of Dresden (Germany), inciting Austria.
May 6, 1757: Battle of Prague (Czech Republic). Austrian forces compelled Prussian armies to withdraw from their siege of the city.
June 23, 1757: Battle of Plassey (north of Calcutta, India); British forces triumph over French and Indian [sic] forces, to cement control over Bengal.
July 25, 1757: Battle of Hastenbeck (in north central Germany); French trounce English troops supporting German allies on the European continent.
August 8, 1757: Fort William Henry: The commander-in-chief of the French forces, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm takes Fort William Henry. The infamous massacre ensues, later dramatized in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans [and also, of course, by Colin in Die Fasting].
October 17, 1757: Berlin is briefly captured and held by the Austrians.
April 1758: Fort Louis, Senegal, a French trading post in West Africa, is taken by a small force of Anglo-Americans, disrupting the supply of slaves (and other “commodities”) to France and the French West Indies.
July 6, 1758: Dusseldorf (Germany) capitulates after a week of bombardment by the Prussians. On this same date, Lord George Augustus Howe was killed in a skirmish near Ticonderoga, disrupting British military leadership in North America.
July 8, 1758: The British fail to take Fort Carrillon (Ticonderoga), despite having assembled the largest armed force ever seen in North America. [Chapter 6 of Die Fasting.]
July 26, 1758: Louisbourg: The British seige of Louisbourg, a major port of Nova Scotia, succeeds, providing a base to harass all French resupply of Canada. [Louisbourg had been captured in 1745, thanks to major effort (and casualties) by men of New England; however, the treaty ending King George’s War had simply returned it.]
August 15, 1758: Second English expedition against Cherbourg (French Atlantic seaport). The town’s fortifications are destroyed, along with 27 ships and 173 pieces of artillery.
August 27, 1758: Fort Frontenac: The French surrender this fort (modern Kingston, Ontario) to Lt. Col. John Bradstreet, which greatly diminishes their ability to resupply their outposts in the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. [Chapter 12 of Die Fasting.]
October 21, 1758: British/Native American Peace: The British make formal peace with the Iroquois, Shawnee, and Delaware Indians, in Easton, PA.
November 26, 1758: The British capture Fort Duquesne under General John Forbes. It is renamed “Pittsburgh,” after William Pitt (the Elder), Prime Minister.
February 16, 1759: Madras (India), is relieved by the arrival of an English flotilla, after a two-month French siege.
May 1, 1759: The British capture the French island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
July 25, 1759: The British take Fort Niagara. The French abandon their fortifications at Crown Point (on the west coast of Lake Champlain, north of Ticonderoga). After these two victories, the British control the Great Lakes and the entire western frontier.
August 1, 1759: British and Germans recapture Minden (in Westphalia, western Germany).
August 12, 1759: Russians and Austrians defeat Prussians at Kunersdorf (east of Berlin, near Frankfort an der Oder, Germany).
September 13, 1759: Québec: The British win the decisive Battle of Québec. Montcalm and Wolfe, the commanding generals, both perish in battle.
November 20, 1759: Naval battle of Quiberon Bay (near Vannes, Brittany, France): Major destruction of French fleets terminates all concern regarding possible French invasion of Britain, and also all hope of re-supplying Canada.
May 13, 1760: French attempt to re-take Québec (from Montréal) fails.
September 8, 1760: Montréal itself falls to the British; letters are signed completing the surrender of Canada, bringing hostilities on the North American continent to an end.
October 25, 1760: Death of King George II disrupts British politics, as his grandson – now George III – had been kept “out of the loop.”
November 3, 1760: Battle of Torgau (near Dortmund, Germany). A battle that produced only massive casualties for Prussia and Austria.
January 16, 1761: French capitulate at Pondicherry, their last remaining stronghold in India.
June 7, 1761: Battle of Belle-Ile (an island in the Atlantic just off the south coast of Brittany, France). Although initially repulsed, the English succeed in capturing the island.
July 16, 1761: Battle of Villinghausen (near Dortmund, Germany). Ferdinand of Brunswick outwits two quarreling French generals to defeat a superior force and preserve British and Prussian hopes for another day.
October 1, 1761: Austrians capture Schweidnitz from Prussians (in Silesia, now part of Poland).
October 5, 1761: Pitt resigns as Prime Minister of Britain, frustrated by his inability to bring about a pre-emptive war on Spain.
December 16, 1761: Russians capture Kolberg from Prussians (in Pomerania, now part of Poland).
January 4, 1762: Britain declares war on Spain.
January 6, 1762: Unexpected death of Tsarina Elisabeth of Russia results in Russia’s changing its alliance from Austria to Prussia, enabling Prussia to continue fighting.
February 16, 1762: Martinique (French Caribbean island) surrenders to a British naval force.
May 9, 1762: Spain invades Portugal.
“Early July,” 1762: Eight thousand British soldiers, in Portugal, deter Spanish and French forces from attacking Lisbon.
July 9, 1762: Deposition of Tsar Peter III by Catherine the Great results in Russia’s rescinding its brief alliance with Prussia and withdrawing from the war.
July 24, 1762: Battle of Burkersdorf (near Dresden). Prussians beat back Austrians.
August 13, 1762: British seize Havana, Cuba, after a two-month siege.
September 18, 1762: French attempt to retake Newfoundland, briefly successful, fails under assault by 1,800 British and provincials.
October 5, 1762: Spanish authorities in Manila (Philippines) surrender to a British invasion force.
November 3, 1762: Preliminary articles of peace accepted by Britain, France, and Spain. Britain gains New France; France cedes the eastern Mississippi basin to Britain, the west and New Orleans to Spain, but gets its Caribbean islands back; Spain cedes Florida to Britain, but gets Havana back.
February 10, 1763: Treaty of Paris confirms preliminary agreement, much to the distress of William Pitt (who hoped for greater severity against the French).
February 15, 1763: Treaty of Hubertusburg concludes the conflict of Austria and Prussia (the bloodiest in the war), on a status quo ante bellum basis.
Q: If it lasted from 1754 to 1763, why the heck is it called the Seven Years’ War?
A: In North America, actual combat lasted from 1754 through 1760; in Europe, from 1756 through 1762. In each case, warfare was largely suspended over the winters, and major military efforts were conducted only during ice-free months. In each case, seven seasonal campaigns were involved.