Seven Years' War

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For the 1563–1570 war, see Nordic Seven Years' War. For the 1592–1598 war in Korea, see Hideyoshi's Invasions of Korea.
Seven Years' War
The Battle of Kunersdorf, by Alexander Kotzebue, 1848.
Date 1754 or 1756–1763
Location Europe, Africa, India, North America, Philippines
Result Treaty of Paris
Great Britain and Spain gained New France. Prussian control over most of Silesia was confirmed.
Image:Flag of Preussen 1701-1918.jpg Kingdom of Prussia
Image:Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Britain
Image:Flagge Preußen - Provinz Hannover.svg Hanover
Image:St Patrick's saltire.svg Ireland
Image:PortugueseFlag1640.png Portugal
Image:Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austria
Image:Drapeau du royaume de France.png France
Image:Romanov Flag.svg Russia
Image:Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden
Image:Flag of New Spain.svg Spain

The Seven Years' War (1754 and 1756–1763), some of the theatres of which are called the Pomeranian War and the French and Indian War (see below), was a war in the mid-18th century that enveloped both European and colonial theatres. The war was described by Winston Churchill as the first world war<ref>Bowen, HV (1998). War and British Society 1688-1815. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 7. ISBN 0-521-57645-8.</ref>, as it was the first conflict in human history to be fought around the globe, although almost all of the combatants were either European nations or their overseas colonies.

The war involved all major powers of the world: Prussia, Great Britain (with British Colonies in North America, the British East India Company, and Ireland), and Hanover were pitted against Austria, France (with New France and the French East India Company), the Russian Empire, Sweden, and Saxony. Spain and Portugal were later drawn into the conflict, while a force from the neutral United Provinces of the Netherlands was attacked in India.

The most tangible outcome of the war was the end of France’s power in the Americas (having only French Guiana, Saint-Domingue, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon left to them and Guadeloupe and Martinique returned to them<ref>The Treaty of Paris in Corbett, Julian (1918). England in the Seven Years' War: A Study in Combined Strategy Vol. II. (book), Second Edition (in English), London: Longman, Green and Co..</ref>) and the emergence of Great Britain as the dominant colonial power in the world. Additionally, France's navy was crippled which meant only an ambitious rebuilding program and combination with the Spanish fleet would see it again threaten the Royal Navy's command of the sea <ref>Kennedy, Paul [1976] (2004). The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (book), new introduction (in English), London: Penguin Books.</ref>. On the other side of the world, the British East India Company acquired the strongest position within India, which was to become the "jewel in the imperial crown".


[edit] Nomenclature

In Canada and the United Kingdom, the Seven Years' War is used to describe the North American conflict as well as the European and Asian conflicts. The conflict in India is termed the Second Carnatic War while the fighting between Prussia and Austria is called the Third Silesian War.

While some U.S.-based historians refer to the conflict as the Seven Years' War regardless of the theatre involved (such as Fred Anderson in A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers & Society in the Seven Year's War), others and non-scholars often use that term to refer only to the European portions of the conflict (1756–1763), not the nine-year North American conflict or the Indian campaigns which lasted 15 years (including Pontiac's Rebellion), which are known as the French and Indian War. The name French and Indian War is so given because the British fought the French and many of the Native Americans (also known as "Indians") sided with France, although some did fight alongside the British.

[edit] Causes

The Seven Years' War may be viewed as a continuation of the War of the Austrian Succession. During that conflict, King Frederick II of Prussia had gained the rich province of Silesia. Empress Maria Theresa of Austria had signed the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle only in order to rebuild her military forces and to forge new alliances.

This she had done with remarkable success. The political map of Europe had been redrawn in a few years. During the so-called Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, century-old enemies France, Austria and Russia formed a single alliance against Prussia. Prussia had the protection only of Great Britain, which was given because the ruling dynasty saw its ancestral Hanoverian possession as being threatened by France. Great Britain's alliance with Prussia was a logical complement. The British already had the most formidable navy in Europe, while Prussia had the most formidable land force on continental Europe. The common consent was once called Broad bottom government. Furthermore, this allowed Great Britain to focus her soldiers towards her colonies.

The Austrian army had undergone an overhaul according to the Prussian system. Maria Theresa, whose knowledge of military affairs shamed many of her generals, had pressed relentlessly for reform. Her interest in the welfare of the soldiers had gained her their undivided respect.

The second cause for war arose from the heated colonial struggle between Great Britain and France. Until the war, neither the French, nor the British had claimed the area along the Ohio River in North America. This area was fertile, rich for farming and trading, and would later become part of the American breadbasket region of the Midwest. The primary reason for the beginning of the American theatre of the war was a dispute over the Ohio River banks.

Unlike the prior three wars of colonial possession between France and the British, this one began in the Americas and spread to Europe secondarily. To the British Colonials and subsequent Americans, the war lasted slightly over nine years.

[edit] British reaction and response

Robert Dinwiddie, the governor of Virginia, was in a predicament. He had several wealthy friends that had business interests in the area claimed by the French. If the French gained control of the Ohio Country, Dinwiddie's friends would stand to lose large sums of money. He had to act and do so quickly. Therefore, on October 31, 1753 newly minted Major George Washington of the Virginia Militia was dispatched, along with his interpreter Jacob Van Braam to deliver a letter to the French commander in the Ohio Country, Jaques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre. The letter insisted upon immediate French withdrawal from the Ohio Country.

On November 12, 1753, Major George Washington arrived at Fort Le Boeuf. He dined with Jaques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre on the evening of the 12th. When he presented the French commander with his letter, Saint-Pierre's response was quite diplomatic, "As to the Summons you send me to retire, I do not think myself obliged to obey it." (Fowler, 35)

As Washington was meeting with Saint-Pierre, Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent a force of 50 men under Captain William Trent to seize and fortify the forks of the Allegheny River where it connected to the Ohio River. The expedition, however, did not reach the area until February 1754, at which point Fort Trent was constructed by the British. Fort Trent was attacked by the French forces in the area, under the command of Claude-Pierre Pecaudy de Contrecoeur, on April 16, 1754. The British surrendered the same day.

Seven Years' War in North America:
The French and Indian War
Jumonville GlenGreat MeadowsFort BeauséjourMonongahelaLake GeorgeFort BullFort OswegoFort William HenryLouisbourg - Fort CarillonFort Frontenac - Fort DuquesneFort LigonierTiconderogaFort NiagaraBeauportQuebecSainte-FoyRestigouche - Thousand IslandsMontréal - Signal Hill

Gold Coin Gold coin called a louis from New France, 1724, obverse (left) and reverse (photo by James Zagon/courtesy Currency Museum, Bank of Canada).

In 1663, Louis XIV made New France a province of France. He sent troops to fight the Iroquois. When peace was made, he encouraged the soldiers to settle in the colony. He encouraged immigrants, including about 800 young women (the "filles du roi," or "daughter of the king"), who soon found husbands among the many single men of the colony. By the 1680s, about 10 000 settlers lived along the St Lawrence River between Quebec City and Montreal, and the population was growing fast. New France also included Acadia (the small community around the Bay of Fundy), and Plaisance (a tiny fishing colony on the south coast of

[edit] First Blood

With the failure of William Trent's expedition and the refusal of the French to leave the Ohio Country, Robert Dinwiddie upped the ante by sending Washington, now promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, on another mission to the Ohio Country with an advanced force and the British Colonials ambushed a French Canadian scouting party. After a short skirmish (Battle of Jumonville Glen), virtually all the French force perished or were initially captured. Washington's Native American ally Tanacharison brutally killed the wounded French commander, Ensign Jumonville, by tomahawk. That eventually became widely known as the notorious "Jumonville affair", an international incident that eventually helped to ignite the Seven Years' War on the European Continent and around the world.

Then, showing his inexperience, Washington built Fort Necessity on low instead of high ground and failed to clear back a sufficient 'kill zone', both of which soon proved inadequate and fatal to many of his men. With the expected reinforcement of 100 British regulars, Washington and the British regular officer quarrelled over the command structure, and then were attacked by a superior French and Indian force in what became known as the Battle of the Great Meadows. With many casualties, the British regular officer dead, and nearly two months march from home he was compelled to surrender to the larger French and American Indian force investing his position. The surrender terms that Washington signed included an admission that he had "assassinated" Jumonville. (The document was provided by the French Commander, brother of Jumonville. It had been translated by Washington's interpreter, Jacob Van Braam, whose first language was neither French nor English. Van Braam either misinterpreted or was unaware of what he was translating. Washington always maintained he did not see the statement, and resigned rather than face demotion over the incident.)

[edit] Hero of the Monongahela

Main article: Braddock expedition

In 1755, General Braddock rehabilitated Washington and took him on as an aide and launched a large force into the wilderness intending to take the forks of the Ohio (present-day Pittsburgh). The French and Indian allies attacked from the sides of the road being hacked by Braddock's men the force in the Battle of the Monongahela, during which Washington showed great poise and extracted the British force in a skillful retreat after Braddock fell to wounds. This made Washington an international name, and he was toasted as the Hero of the Monongahela for years to come.

The war erupted in earnest in Europe as well on May 15, 1756, when the Diplomatic Revolution had been finalized and Great Britain declared war on France. In accordance with history doctrines, King Frederick determined to strike first. On August 29, his well-prepared army crossed the frontier of Saxony.

[edit] European theatre

Seven Years' War: European theatre

In the European theatre, Prussia was outnumbered, but not outclassed, by her opponents. Prussia was a small state, but as Voltaire once remarked, it was an army with a country, not the other way around.

At the start of the war, Frederick crossed the border of Saxony, one of the smaller German States in league with Austria. The Saxon and Austrian armies were unprepared, and at the Battle of Lobositz Frederick prevented the isolated Saxon army from being reinforced by an Austrian army under General von Browne. However, Saxony had successfully delayed the Prussian campaign. In the Mediterranean, the French opened the campaign against the British by an attack on Minorca; a British attempt at relief was foiled at the Battle of Minorca (for which Admiral Byng was subsequently court-martialed and executed by being shot) and the island was captured.

In the spring of 1757, Frederick again took the initiative by marching on Prague. After the bloody Battle of Prague the Prussians started to besiege the city, but had to lift the siege after Frederick's first defeat at the Battle of Kolin.

Things were looking very grim for Prussia at this time, with the Austrians mobilizing to attack Prussian-controlled soil and a French army under Soubise approaching from the west. In what Napoleon would call "a masterpiece in maneuver and resolution", Frederick thoroughly crushed both the French at the Battle of Rossbach and the Austrians at the Battle of Leuthen. With these complete victories at hand, Frederick had once again established himself as Europe's finest general and his men as Europe's finest soldiers.

[edit] Pitt's Descents

The British planned a "descent" (an amphibious demonstration or raid) on Rochefort, a combined Army-Navy operation to overrun the town and burn the shipping in the Charente. The expedition set out on September 8, 1757, Sir John Mordaunt commanding the troops and Sir Edward Hawke the fleet. On September 23, the Isle d'Aix was taken, but due to dithering by the military staff such time was lost that Rochefort became unassailable,<ref>Julian Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War: A Study in Combined Strategy, 2 Vols., (London, 1918).</ref> and the expedition abandoned the Isle d'Aix and returned to Great Britain on October 1.

Despite the operational failure and debated strategic success of the descent on Rochefort, Pitt — who saw purpose in this type of asymetric entreprise — prepared to continue such operations.<ref>Julian Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War: A Study in Combined Strategy, 2 Vols., (London, 1918).</ref> An army was assembled under the command of the Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough; he was aided by Lord George Sackville. The naval escorts for the expedition were commanded by Anson, Hawke, and Howe. The army landed on June 5, 1758 at Cancalle Bay, proceeded to St. Malo, and burned the shipping in the harbor; the arrival of French relief forces caused the British to avoid a siege, and the troops re-embarked. An attack on Havre de Grace was called off, and the fleet sailed on to Cherbourg; but the weather being bad and provisions low, that too was abandoned, and the expedition returned, having damaged French privateering and provided a further strategic demonstration agaisnt the French coast.

Pitt now prepared at last to send troops into Germany; and both Marlborough and Sackville, disgusted by the futility of the "descents", obtained commissions in that army. The elderly General Bligh was appointed to command a new "descent", escorted by Howe. The campaign began propitiously: with the support of the navy to bombard Cherbourg and cover their landing, the army drove off the French force detailed to oppose their landing, captured Cherbourg, and destroyed its fortifications, docks, and shipping. Re-embarking, the troops were landed on September 3 at the Bay of St. Lunaire in Brittany, with the idea of acting against St. Malo, but this proved impractical. Worsening weather forced the two arms to separate: the ships sailed for the safer anchorage of St. Cast, while the army proceeded overland. The tardiness of Bligh allowed a French force of 10,000 men from Brest to catch up with him and open fire on his embarkation. They were held off by the rear-guard of 1,400 under General Drury while the rest of the army embarked; but they could not be saved, and 750, including Drury, were killed and the rest captured.

[edit] The war in the continent

Frederick invaded Austria in the spring of 1758 and failed to score an important victory. In the west, the French were beaten in the Battle of Rheinberg and the Battle of Krefeld by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick.

operations of Russian army from Polish territory during Seven Years' War 1756-1762

In the east, at the Battle of Zorndorf in Prussia, a Prussian army of 35,000 men under Frederick fought to a standstill with a Russian army of 43,000 commanded by Count Fermor. The Russians withdrew from the field. In the undecided Battle of Tornow on September 25, a Swedish army repulsed six assaults by a Prussian army. On October 14, the Austrians surprised the main Prussian army at the Battle of Hochkirch. Frederick lost much of his artillery but retreated in good order. 1759 saw some severe Prussian defeats. At the Battle of Kay, or Paltzig, the Russian Count Saltykov with 70,000 Russians defeated 26,000 Prussian troops commanded by General von Wedel. Though the Hanoverians defeated an army of 60,000 French at Minden, Austrian general Daun forced the surrender of an entire Prussian corps of 13,000 men in the Battle of Maxen. Frederick himself lost half his army in the Battle of Kunersdorf, the worst defeat in his military career which drove him to the brink of abdication and suicide. The disaster resulted partly from his misjudgment of the Russians, who had already demonstrated their strength at Zorndorf and at Gross-Jagersdorf.

The French planned to invade the British Isles during 1759 by accumulating troops near the mouth of the Loire and concentrating their Brest and Toulon fleets. However, two sea defeats prevented this. In August, the Mediterranean fleet under M. de la Clue was scattered by a larger British fleet under Edward Boscawen at the Battle of Lagos. In the Battle of Quiberon Bay on November 20, the British admiral Edward Hawke with 23 ships of the line caught the French Brest fleet with 21 ships of the line under Marshal de Conflans and sank, captured or forced aground many of them, putting an end to the French plans.

1760 brought even more disaster to the Prussians. The Prussian general Fouqué was defeated in the Battle of Landshut. The French captured Marburg, and the Swedes part of Pomerania. The Hanoverians were victorious over the French at the Battle of Marburg, but the Austrians, under the command of General Charles Flynn captured Glatz in Silesia. In the Battle of Liegnitz Frederick scored a victory despite being outnumbered three to one. The Russians under General Saltykov and Austrians under General Lacy briefly occupied his capital, Berlin. The end of the year saw Frederick once more victorious in the Battle of Torgau.

1761 brought a new country into the war. Spain declared war on Great Britain on January 4. In the Battle of Villinghausen Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick defeated a 92,000 man French army. The Russians under Zakhar Chernyshev and Pyotr Rumyantsev stormed Kolberg in Pomerania, while the Austrians captured Schweidnitz.

Great Britain now threatened to withdraw her subsidies, and, as the Prussian armies had dwindled to 60,000 men, Frederick's survival was severely threatened. Then on January 5 1762 the Tsaritsa died, and her Prussophile successor, Peter III, at once recalled Russian armies from Berlin and mediated Frederick's truce with Sweden. In the aftermath, Frederick was able to drive the Austrians from Silesia in the Battle of Freiberg (October 29 1762), while his Brunswick allies captured the key town of Göttingen.

[edit] Colonial theatre

For North American events, see French and Indian War.

Image:French attack St. John's Newfoundland 1762.jpg
The descent of the French on St. John's, Newfoundland, 1762

Battles occurred in India, North America, Europe, the Caribbean isles, the Philippines and coastal Africa. During the 1750s up to 1763, Great Britain gained enormous areas of land and influence at the expense of the French. Robert Clive ran the French from India, and General Wolfe defeated the French forces of General Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham leading in the following year to the surrender of Quebec to the British. Great Britain lost Minorca in the Mediterrean to the French in 1756 but captured the French colonies in Senegal on the African continent in 1758. The Royal Navy captured the French sugar colonies of Guadeloupe in 1759 and Martinique in 1762, as well as the Spanish cities of Havana in Cuba and Manila in the Philippines.

In 1758, the British mounted an attack on New France by land and by sea. The French fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island fell in 1758. And on September 13 1759, General James Wolfe defeated the French forces at Québec. By the autumn of 1760, French America had become British.

Towards the very end of the war, in 1762, French forces attacked St. John's, Newfoundland. If successful, the expedition would have strengthened France's hand at the negotiating table. Though they took St. John's and raided nearby settlements, the French forces were eventually defeated by British troops in the Battle of Signal Hill. The battle was the final battle of the war in North America and forced the French to surrender St. John's to the British under the command of Colonel William Amherst.

The war ended with the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763. It included the cession to Great Britain of all New France except for the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

[edit] Peace

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

The British-French hostilities were ended in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, which involved a complex series of land exchanges. France was given the choice of keeping either New France or its Caribbean island colony Guadeloupe, and chose the latter to retain one of its sources of sugar. This suited the British as well, as their own Caribbean islands already supplied ample sugar, but with the handover of New France they gained control of all lands in North America east of the Mississippi River with the exception of New Orleans. However, the end of the threat from New France to the British American colonies and the subsequent reorganization of those colonies would later become one of the enabling triggers for the American Revolution. Spain lost control of Florida to Great Britain, but received New Orleans and the Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi River from the French. France also returned Minorca to the British.

European boundaries were returned to their pre-war states, by the Treaty of Hubertusburg (February 1763). This meant that Prussia was confirmed in its possession of Silesia. Prussia had survived the combined assault of its numerous neighbours, each larger than itself. According to some historians, Prussia gained enormously in influence at the cost of the Holy Roman Empire. This influence marks the beginning of the modern German state, an event at least as influential as the colonial empire Great Britain had gained. Others, including Fred Anderson, author of "Crucible of War," disagree. According to Anderson, "Beyond the inevitable adjustments in the way diplomats would think of Prussia as a player in European politics, six years of heroic expenditure and savage bloodshed had accomplished precisely nothing." (p. 506)

The war also became Russia's first large scale military involvement in European affairs.

From a military point of view, the battles are less interesting than the numerous marches and countermarches in which Frederick excelled. This warfare of mobility would later be admired by Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact, the Seven Years' War was the last major military conflict in Europe before the outbreak of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars towards the end of the 18th century.

[edit] Battles

[edit] Reception

[edit] References

<references/> Fowler, William H. Empires at War. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd, 2005

[edit] External links

ca:Guerra dels Set Anys cy:Y Rhyfel Saith Mlynedd da:Syvårskrigen (1756–1763) de:Siebenjähriger Krieg el:Επταετής Πόλεμος es:Guerra de los Siete Años eo:Sepjara milito fr:Guerre de Sept Ans it:Guerra dei sette anni he:מלחמת שבע השנים nl:Zevenjarige Oorlog (18e eeuw) ja:七年戦争 no:Syvårskrigen pl:Wojna siedmioletnia pt:Guerra dos Sete Anos ro:Războiul de Şapte Ani ru:Семилетняя война sk:Sedemročná vojna (1756-1763) sr:Седмогодишњи рат fi:Seitsenvuotinen sota sv:Sjuårskriget vi:Chiến tranh Bảy năm uk:Семирічна війна zh:七年战争

Seven Years' War

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