The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War was a nine-year conflict between England and France (1754-1763). Both England and France had allies among the Native American tribes, who fought alongside them. The war was fought over a wide geographical area: in North America, Europe, and on the high seas. In Europe, it was known as the Seven Years War. In North America, fighting began chiefly because both England and France had claimed the land known as the Ohio River Valley in the hopes of expanding their fur trades (in other words, the primary cause of the war was greed). The first armed conflict took place at what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and involved future American president George Washington. Subsequent battles took place in present-day New York State, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. After nine years, the French were defeated and were forced to give up their land claims in North America east of the Mississippi River (including Canada), with the exception of a few small islands. The final result of the French and Indian War was the passage of the Stamp Act -- the British Parliament's attempt to make up for financial losses from the war by taxing American colonists on all printed documents. This event started a chain of events which led eventually to the American Revolution.

Click on a place name below for more information about its role in the war:

The Battle of Ticonderoga, also referred to as the Battle of Fort Carillon, was fought between July 7 and July 8, 1758. Fort Carillon was the southernmost fort in New France and was in a very strategic position. 16,000 British soldiers (the largest British force ever assembled in North America), under the command of Generals Howe and Abercrombie, attacked the heavily-fortified French fort. About 3,200 French troops under the command of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, had built the fort with high entrenchments, supported by three batteries. General Montcalm ordered trees to be chopped down to block the only clear path to the fort. Just before the main assault, British General Howe was killed in a skirmish. General Abercrombie ordered a direct frontal assault on the fort, without waiting for his cannons to be assembled and positioned. The result was a disaster for the British. The French forced them to retreat, killing or injuring over 2,000 British soldiers. The French victory didn’t last long, however; in 1759, the British successfully attacked and captured the fort and renamed it Fort Ticonderoga.

The Battle of Quebec City, also referred to as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, was one of the most important British victories in the French and Indian War. It took place on September 13, 1759. The battle was actually the end of a long siege that began on June 26, when British forces landed near Quebec City. 13,000 French troops, under the command of General Montcalm, were positioned inside Quebec City. On September 13, Montcalm and 4,000 soldiers left Quebec City and engaged the British on the plains. The French army was forced to retreat back to Quebec City, and General Montcalm was fatally wounded. Hearing of Montcalm's defeat, French naval forces on the St. Lawrence River also retreated. Quebec City was surrendered on September 18, following a lengthy British assault. The loss of Quebec basically guaranteed victory for the British in the French and Indian War.

The Siege of Fort Frontenac, which occurred between August 25-27 1758, was one of the most important strategic victories for the British in the War. 2,200 British soldiers besieged the French fort and its 110 French troops. The outnumbered French had no choice but to surrender quickly.

The first major event in the French and Indian War happened here. In 1754, the area was occupied by French settlers. English settlers, moving from Virginia, hoped to colonize the area to take advantage of the region's abundant game. They built a small fort on the Ohio River known as Fort Prince George. French settlers, however, arrived soon after and destroyed the fort. They built Fort Duquesne on the ruins of the former English fort. Major George Washington was sent to Fort Duquesne in 1754 to discuss boundaries, and talk the French into leaving the area peacefully. The French, however, refused to leave. After several failed attempts to take the fort by force, a larger British force eventually forced the French to retreat in 1758. The French burned the fort to the ground first, and then the British took over the remains and rebuilt it, naming it Fort Pitt. The city of Pittsburgh is in this area.

The French stronghold of Montreal was the last to fall. On September 6, 1760, nearly 18,000 British troops attacked Montreal. Only 2,100 French soldiers were left to defend the city. After three days, they were forced to surrender, and Montreal was in the hands of the British. The siege of Montreal marked the end of French rule in North America. The war officially ended on February 10, 1763, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. As a result of the war, France gave up nearly all of its territory in North America.