Development Of The War

The French and Indian War lasted nearly nine years, and it moved forward in three distinct phases. During the first of these phases, from the Fort Necessity debacle in 1754 until the expansion of the war to Europe in 1756, it was primarily a local, North American Conflict. The English did not do well these first years. There were few British naval reinforcements and so the colonists managed the war largely on their own. Virtually all indian tribes were now allied with the French. Only the Iroquois had seen themselves forced to the British side and they kept themselves as neutral as possible.

The second phase of the struggle began in 1756 when the governments of France and England formally opened hostilities and a truly international conflict (The Seven Years' War) began. The fighting now spread to the West Indies, India, and Europe itself. But the principal struggle remained the one in North America where so far England had suffered nothing but frustration and defeat. Beginning in 1757, Wiliam Pitt ,the English secretary of state, began to transform the war effort by bringing it for the first time fully under British control. He did this at first by forcing supplies, equipment, shelter, and manpower from the colonists. This was cause for much resentment among the colonists, who resisted these new imposition and firmly, at times even violently, resisted them. By early 1758, the friction between the British authorities and the colonists was threatening to bring the war effort to a halt.

Beginning in 1758 therefore, Pitt initiated the third and final phase of the war by relaxing many of the policies that Americans had objected to. This resulted in an immediate increase in American support for the war and a dramatic increase in American enlistment. Pitt also dispatched large numbers of additional troops. Almost immediately the tide of the battle began to turn in England's favor. The French, now even more outnumbered then before and plagued by poor harvests, could no longer offer enough resistance to the British troops and American militias. In July 1758, the fortress of Louisbourg was captured by two brilliant English generals (and their armies), Jeffrey Amherst and James Wolfe. And on September 13 1759, the supposedly inpregnable city of Quebec fell to the army of General James Wolfe. This marked the beginning of the end of the American phase of the war. A year later, in September 1760, the French army formally surrendered to Amherst in Montreal.

The French and Indian War had profound effects for both the British Empire and the American colonists. It is often seen as the source of much of the resentment between the English government and the colonists that eventually led to the American Revolution of 1775.