The Seven Years’ War


The Seven Years’ War is arguably considered the first global war. War was fought on three continents, North America, Europe, and Asia between the major world powers, Britain and her allies, and France with her allies. The Belligerent nations were Britain, Prussia, Portugal and Hanover on one side, and France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Spain on the other. The war may not have happened if it weren’t for the Battle of Jumonville Glen. The battle was named for the French Captain who died in battle, Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. During the mid-eighteenth century, Britain and France both claimed a region known as Ohio Country. George Washington was sent on a mission to tell the French that Ohio Country belonged to the British and to go back to New France, as well as to check the progress on a new British fort named Necessity.

The French Captain, Jumonville, also was on a similar mission telling the British that the Ohio Country was French land and that the British should leave. Washington brought his friend, Tanacharison, the chief of an Indian Tribe, along with him. On their way to Fort Necessity, Tanacharison’s men spotted some Frenchmen at camp. Washington didn’t know their reasons for being in the Ohio Country, so Washington decided not to take any chances and ambush the French. The skirmish lasted 15 minutes, and most the French were killed, but at least one escaped to tell the French of a British attack. Many argue this as the start of the Seven Years’ War instead of the declaration of war that was made two years later.

The following year, General Braddock recruited Washington to aid in a campaign to recapture Fort Necessity from the French who had captured it. The campaign was very frustrating for Braddock. The artillery traveled slowly, so Braddock sent an advanced guard that would reach the fort more quickly. Braddock’s soldiers and the French met at the Monongahela River and fought a bloody battle there. The French had Indian allies who had been trading firearms and beaver fur for many years, were a formidable force. The French and Indians were very experienced in guerilla-style fighting, while the British became disoriented and fired on each other. After three disastrous hours of fighting, Braddock received a fatal wound. Washington restored enough order to retreat. Less than one-third of the British escaped.

Britain had four long years of military disasters, one after the other, but in 1759, the British finally gained the upper hand and captured Forts Ticonderoga, Niagara, and Quebec in 1760, defeating the French in North America. The European theater of the war began with a French capture of Minorca, a British Military base in the Mediterranean. Prussia was a powerful ally of Britain. Frederick III of Prussia decided not to wait for his enemies to attack him, so he took the offensive and invaded Saxony, a small German state bordering what is now the Czech Republic. France, Austria, and the Russian Empire declared war on Prussia after the unprovoked invasion. Prussia was winning early on in the war, but in 1760, Frederick’s army shrunk majorly. The Miracle of the House of Brandenburg was Frederick’s saving grace. The Russians and Austrians feared they could not hold the Prussian capital of Berlin for long so both the forces retreated from Prussia. As if one miracle wasn’t enough, the Empress Elizabeth of Russia died and was succeeded by Peter III who made peace with Prussia due to his admiration of Prussia.

With Russia out of the war and France’s navy exhausted, British victory became imminent. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, returning all borders except Britain’s to Status Quo Ante Bellum, or the same as before the war. Britain gained New France in North America as well as control over what had been colonized in India and some islands in the Caribbean. France had lost the majority of her army and navy, crippling the colonial power for around fifty years.