Published on January 30, 2013 by Carol
In 1754, Governor Dinwiddie attempted, but failed to secure assistance from other colonies to expel the French. He turned again to Washington, then 22 years old, who led his men westward into the disputed area.
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On May 28, Washington’s forces surprised a group of French and Indians, inflicted heavy casualties and took a number of captives. The colonial forces then hastily constructed the aptly named Fort Necessity, in the Great Meadows not far from Fort Duquesne.
On July 3, the French forces struck back. After a day-long battle — the first of the French and Indian War — Washington signed terms of surrender and returned with his defeated men to Virginia. The French commander treated his opponents leniently in the hope of avoiding a broader conflict. Nevertheless, the opening shots of the French and Indian War had been fired.
While Washington was engaging the French in western Pennsylvania, colonial delegates gathered in Albany to prepare for the coming war.
The conflict then proceeded through three phases:
1. The early period saw localized action in North America and began with Washington’s loss at Fort Necessity. Neither side committed much in troop strength or resources. Most of the action was confined to attempts to capture the opponent’s fortified positions on the frontier.
2. A middle phase began with a declaration of war between France and Britain, which touched off the first true world war (Seven Years’ War). The North American conflict might have remained a localized affair, but a realignment of European alliances ignited new rivalries to add to the simmering feud between Britain and France.
3. A final phase was highlighted by the British decision to concentrate on the North American theater of the conflict. Investment of huge sums of money and innovative new military talent helped to provide the margin of victory.