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   Chapter 16 1757).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 4348

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

[Sidenote: Character of the war]

Washington's defeat in 1754 was followed by active military preparations on both sides. So far as the number of campaigns and casualties goes, it was a war of little significance; but it was marked by romantic incidents and heroic deeds. Much of the fighting took place in the forest. The Indians showed their characteristic daring and their characteristic unwillingness to stand a long-continued, steady attack. Their scalping- knives and stakes added a fearful horror to many of the battles. On both sides the military policy seemed simple. The English must attack, the French must do their best to defend. The French were vulnerable in Nova Scotia and on the Ohio; their centre also was pierced by two highways leading from the Hudson,-one through Lake Champlain, the other through the Mohawk and Lake Ontario. These four regions must be the theatre of war, and in 1755 the British government, seconded by the colonists, planned an attack on the four points simultaneously.

[Sidenote: Braddock's expedition.]

The most difficult of the four tasks was the reduction of Fort Duquesne, and it was committed to a small force of British regulars, with colonial contingents, under the command of General Braddock. The character of this representative of British military authority is summed up in a phrase of his secretary's: "We have a general most judiciously chosen for being disqualified for the service he is employed on in almost every respect." Before him lay three plain duties,-to co-operate with the provincial authorities in protecting the frontier, to impress upon the Indians the superior strength of the English, and to occupy the disputed territory. He did none of them. Among the provincials was George Washington, whose experience in this very region ought to have influenced the general; but the latter obstinately refused to learn that the rules of war must be modified in a rough and wooded country, among frontiersmen and savage enemies. July 9, 1755, the expedition reached a point eight miles from Fort Duquesne. As Braddock's little army marched forward, with careful protection against surprise, it was greeted

with a volley from 250 French Canadians and 230 Indian allies. Though the Canadians fled, the Indians stood their ground from behind trees and logs. The Virginians and a few regulars took to trees also, but were beaten back by the oaths and blows of Braddock. "We would fight," they said, "if we could see anybody to fight with." After three hours' stand against an invisible foe, Braddock's men broke and abandoned the field. Out of 1,466 officers and men, but 482 came off safe. The remnant of the expedition fled, abandoned the country, left the frontier unprotected; and over the road which they had constructed came a stream of marauding Indians.

[Sidenote: Removal of the Acadians.]

In the centre the double campaign was equally unfruitful. On the borders of Nova Scotia the French forts were captured. The victors felt unable to hold the province, although it had been theirs since 1713, except by removing the French Acadian inhabitants. It was a strong measure, carried out with severity. Six thousand persons were distributed among the colonies farther south, where their religion and their language both caused them to be suspected and often kept them from a livelihood. The justification was that the Acadians were under French influence, and were likely to be added to the fighting force of the enemy; the judgment of Parkman is that the "government of France began with making the Acadians its tools, and ended with making them its victims."

[Sidenote: Campaigns of 1756, 1757.]

The campaigns of 1756 and 1757 were like that of 1755. After the retreat of Braddock's expedition the frontier of Virginia and Pennsylvania was left to the ravages of the Indians. The two colonies were slow to defend themselves, and had no help from England. Systematic warfare was still carried on in the centre and in the East. The French, under the guidance of their new commander, Montcalm, lost no ground, and gained Oswego and Fort William Henry. The English cause in Europe was declining. In the Far East alone had great successes been gained; and the battle of Plassey in 1757 gave to England the paramount influence in India which she has ever since exercised.

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