“Rev War Revelry” The Battle of Lake George: England’s First Triumph in the French and Indian War

To usher in the month of May, Emerging Revolutionary War returns to the French and Indian War for a discussion with author and historian Billy Griffith on his book, “The Battle of Lake George: England’s First Triumph in the French and Indian War.

On September 8, 1755, two armies clashed along the southern shore of Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The battle between William Johnson’s force of colonial provincials and Mohawk allies and Baron de Dieskau’s French and Native American army would decide who possessed the lower part of the strategic water highway system that connected New York City with Quebec.

Join ERW historian Billy Griffith for a discussion about this crucial event in the early stages of the French and Indian War that can be considered one of the first true “American” victories against professional foreign troops. We look forward to you joining us, at 7 p.m. EDT on our Facebook page for the next historian happy hour.

The Ring Fight and the Emergence of Andrew Pickens

While the Second Continental Congress met in the early summer of 1776, colonists in the far away backcountry of South Carolina faced a threat from a perennial foe, the Cherokees. While delegates debated a declaration of independence, war parties struck settlements between the Broad and Saluda Rivers in the Ninety Six District. In response to these raids, militia Major Andrew Williamson mustered his Ninety Six regiment. Augmented by militia from the Carolinas and Virginia, he commenced a campaign against the Cherokee villages along the eastern face of the Blue Ridge.

General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina

Williamson struck at Esseneca on August 1. The colonials sustained twenty casualties but forced the warriors to abandon the village. Over the course of the next week, Williamson moved further into enemy territory. Rather than engage his force, the Cherokees retreated before the advance. Williamson burned a number of towns including Oconee, Estatoe and Toxaway.

The regiment reached Tamassee on August 12. Once again, Williamson found the village abandoned. He decided to send out scouting parties to examine the nearby hills. One of the patrols was led by a company commander from the Long Canes region of South Carolina, Captain Andrew Pickens. He took with him about sixty men. To cover more ground, Pickens divided his group and continued on with thirty five militiamen.

Review: European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Edited by Frederick C. Schneid

ERW Book Reviews (1)

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Bill Backus

The American Revolution ultimately set in motion a chain of events that transformed not only society in the Americas but also back in the Old World.  Six years after the United States gained independence, revolution broke out across France.  While Americans focused on building a new nation, across the Atlantic the French Revolution sparked a series of wars subsequently known as the French Revolutionary Wars.  Eventually after many years of combat and political chaos, a young army officer named Napoleon Bonaparte emerged as the new Emperor of France.  Led by the Emperor the French army and nation embarked on a series of new wars that spread from Spain to Russia.  From the beginning of the French Revolution to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Europe was at war for nearly 26 years, or nearly the entire lives of people born during the American Revolutionary period.

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European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) by Frederick C. Schneid

While Napoleon’s French Empire is widely known on both sides of the Atlantic, the wars that allowed Napoleon’s ascent to power are less prominent.  Concerned that revolution could spread to the rest of continental Europe, Revolutionary France found itself engaged fighting the European status co intent on restoring the Bourbon monarchy in France.  Over the course of years war and peace ebbed and flowed in Europe, with war sometimes sparked by the French in hopes of unifying a splintered public. In “European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789-1802”, historian Frederick Schneid has organized a study exploring the role of some of the prominent European armies in this period.  Collaborating with noted scholars in their respective fields, the essays explore the armies of the nation-states of France, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and the Ottoman Empire, along side the various German principalities and the armies of the Italian states. Continue reading “Review: European Armies of the French Revolution, 1789–1802 (Campaigns and Commanders Series) Edited by Frederick C. Schneid”

Review: The French and Indian War and the Conquest of New France, by William R. Nester. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, 2014 (paperback).

Both the American Revolutionary War and the French and Indian War (as it was called in North America) have been the subject of many history books.  The original American sources have been pretty much culled through, as have many of the British sources.  But French sources have not received the same scrutiny.  Why this is the case, is not clear.  Of course, the French language is a barrier to English-speaking historians.  I believe another factor is that French historians have not shown much interest in either war, and when they have, they have failed to use adequate footnotes, making it difficult for other historians to follow up on the sources they have used and confirm their credibility.  In the French and Indian War and the Conquest of New France, William R. Nester, a professor at St. John’s University in New York City, helps to address this imbalance.  His history of the French and Indian War (called the Seven Years’ War in Europe), which was fought from 1754 to 1763, is from the French perspective and he has relied on many original French sources.  Interestingly, despite the title of the book, about half of the book, if not more, occurs in France and the rest of Europe.   This decision is understandable; paraphrasing one contemporary, Canada was lost on the battlefields of Germany.

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“The French and Indian War and the Conquest of New France”

Nester starts his history by explaining the disorganized and weak state of the French political system.  One might believe that because France had a monarchial system, its government was efficient, but the contrary was true.  For one, the French legislature, dominated by merchants, lawyers and the middling classes who suffered the burden of heavy taxation (aristocrats were not taxed), frequently hesitated or refused King Louis XV’s constant requests for more funds to fight his wars and pay for his extravagant lifestyle.  As a result, his administration was constantly deep in debt and always short of funds it needed to fight.

The court of King Louis XV was a convoluted maze of intrigue, dominated by the king’s beautiful but conniving mistress, Madame de Pompadour.  Due to her heavy influence on King Louis XV, if she did not approve of a general or a foreign diplomat, that individual would either never be retained or would eventually be fired.  This was no way to run a great country.  Continue reading “Review: The French and Indian War and the Conquest of New France, by William R. Nester. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, 2014 (paperback).”

“Remember the Ladies”

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March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the many contributions women have contributed in our country. At George Washington Birthplace National Monument, our social media policy for the month has been to highlight important women to the history of the National Park Service and/or to George Washington’s life.

By writing the history text and developing what images to use for these posts, I thought I would take this example and expand it to include two other women that played integral parts in the American Revolutionary movement.

Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren. Continue reading ““Remember the Ladies””