The French and Indian War is the common U.S. name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756 the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war. In Canada, it is usually just referred to as the Seven Years' War, although French speakers in Quebec often call it La guerre de la Conquête ("The War of Conquest"). In Europe, there is no specific name for the North American part of the war. The name refers to the two main enemies of the British colonists: the royal French forces and the various Native American forces allied with them.
The war was fought primarily along the frontiers between the British colonies from Virginia to Nova Scotia, and began with a dispute over the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, the site of present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The dispute resulted in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754. British attempts at expeditions in 1755, 1756 and 1757 in the frontier areas of Pennsylvania and New York all failed, due to a combination of poor management, internal divisions, and effective French and Indian offense. The 1755 capture of Fort Beauséjour on the border separating Nova Scotia from Acadia was followed by a British policy of deportation of its French inhabitants, to which there was some resistance.
After the disastrous 1757 British campaigns (resulting in a failed expedition against Louisbourg and the Siege of Fort William Henry, which was followed by significant atrocities on British victims by Indians), the British government fell, and William Pitt came to power, while France was unwilling to risk large convoys to aid the limited forces it had in New France. Pitt significantly increased British military resources in the colonies, and between 1758 and 1760 the British military successfully penetrated the heartland of New France, with Montreal finally falling in September 1760.
The outcome was one of the most significant developments in a century of Anglo-French conflict. France ceded French Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to its ally Spain in compensation for Spain's loss to Britain of Florida. France's colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, confirming Britain's position as the dominant colonial power in the eastern half of North America.
Battle of Fort Necessity
After returning to the great meadows in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania, George Washington decided it prudent to reinforce his position. Supposedly named by Washington as Fort Necessity or Fort of Necessity, the soldiers constructed a storehouse for supplies such as gunpowder, rum, and flour. The crude palisade they erected was built more to defend supplies in the fort's storehouse from Washington's own men, whom he described as "loose and idle", than as a planned defense against a hostile enemy. The sutler of Washington's force was John Fraser, who earlier had been second-in-command at Fort Prince George. Later he served as Chief Scout to General Edward Braddock and then Chief Teamster to the Forbes Expedition.
By June 12, 1754, Washington had under his command 293 colonials and the nominal command of 100 additional regular British army troops from South Carolina. Washington spent the remainder of June 1754 extending the wilderness road further west and down the western slopes of the Allegheny range into the valley of the Monongahela River. He wanted to create a river crossing point roughly 41 mi (66 km) near Redstone Creek and Redstone Old Fort. This was a prehistoric Native American earthwork mound on a bluff overlooking the river crossing. The aboriginal mound structure may have once been part of a fortification. Five years later in the war, Fort Burd was constructed at Redstone Old Fort. The area eventually became the site of Nemacolin Castle and Brownsville, Pennsylvania — an important western jumping-off point for travelers' crossing the Alleghenies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
To reach the Ohio River basins' navigable waters as soon as possible on the Monongahela River, Washington chose to follow Nemacolin's Trail, an ancient Native American trail which had been somewhat improved by colonists, with Nemacolin's help. He preferred this to following the ridge-hopping, high-altitude path traversed by the western part of Braddock's Road. It jogged to the north near the fort and passed over another notch near Confluence, Pennsylvania into the valley and drainage basin of the Allegheny River. The Redstone destination at the terminus of Nemacolin's Trail was a natural choice for an advanced base. The location was one of the few known good crossing points where both sides of the wide deep river had low accessible banks; steep sides were characteristic of the Monongahela River valley.
Late in the day on July 3, Washington did not know the French situation. Believing his situation was impossible, he accepted surrender terms which allowed the peaceful withdrawal of his forces, which he completed on July 4, 1754. The French subsequently occupied the fort and then burned it. Washington did not speak French, and stated later that if he had known that he was confessing to the "assassination" of Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, he would not have signed the surrender document.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a National Battlefield Site preserving elements of the Battle of Fort Necessity in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, United States. The Battle of Fort Necessity occurred on July 3, 1754 and was an early battle of the French and Indian War that was subsequent to the death of British General Braddock along the western stretches of the Braddock Road and the failure of the Braddock Expedition to take Fort Duquesne from the French at what is now the area of Pittsburgh called the Golden Triangle.
Fort Necessity is a reconstructed historic stockade that was originally built by George Washington to defend against an attack during the French and Indian War. Washington's loss at Fort Necessity was the only blemish on his military record. It is now operated as a national battlefield.
- General Edward Braddock's Grave is across the highway from Fort Necessity. He was mortally wounded attacking Fort Duquesne (at the "forks of the Ohio River" in Pittsburgh) during the French and Indian War. It is a unit of the national battlefield. Under an agreement with British government, the site of Braddock's grave is considered British soil.
Park formation and structure
During the Great Depression of the 20th century, attempts to preserve the location of Fort Necessity were undertaken. On March 4, 1931, Congress declared the location a National Battlefield Site under management of the War Department. Transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, the park was redesignated a National Battlefield on August 10, 1961. As with all historic sites administered by the National Park Service, the battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
Subsequent archaeological research helped to uncover the majority of the original fort position, shape and design. A replica of the fort was constructed on site in the 1970s. A new visitor center, which also is home to a National Road interpretive center, opened on October 8, 2005. The battlefield and fort are currently being improved. The fort replica is being reconstructed to look more historically accurate, new informative signs being added, and the historic treelines and charge locations are being outlined.
Along with the fort, the national battlefield features two other historic sites. On a hillside adjacent to the battlefield and within the boundaries of the park is Mount Washington Tavern, a classic example of the many inns' once lining the National Road, the United States' first federally funded highway.
The land on which the tavern was built was originally owned by George Washington. In 1770 he purchased the site on which he had commanded his first battle. Around the 1830s, Judge Nathnial Ewing of Uniontown constructed the tavern. James Sampey acquired the tavern in 1840. It was operated by his family until the railroad construction boom caused the National Road to decline in popularity, rendering the inn unprofitable. In 1855, it was sold to the Fazenbaker family. They used it as a private home for the next 75 years, until the National Park Service purchased the property in 1933 and restored it as a historic structure. The Mount Washington Tavern demonstrates the standard features of an early American tavern, including a simple barroom that served as a gathering place, a more refined parlor that was used for relaxation, and bedrooms in which numerous people would crowd to catch up on sleep.
In a separate unit of the park, lying about one mile (1.6 km) east of the battlefield, is the grave of General Edward Braddock. The legendary British commander oversaw many French and Indian War battles and led the construction of a useful, but inadequate wilderness road through Western Pennsylvania. Braddock was severely wounded in a failed siege on Fort Duquesne. He and his regiment fled along the wilderness road to a site near Great Meadows. Here, on July 13, 1755, the general died and was buried in an elaborate ceremony officiated by George Washington. His grave was hidden by the British, hoping to keep the site's location out of the hands of the enemy. In 1804 Braddock's remains were discovered by men making repairs to the wilderness road. A fitting marker was erected in 1913.