A Chronology of the Colonial History
of North America
Edward J. Dodson
The Seven Years' War erupts in North America
as The French and Indian War
- The French force the surrender of a small English garrison
building a fort at the forks of the Allegheny and Monongehela
Rivers, then construct Fort Duquesne. Iroquois warriors observing
the departure of the English, spread the word: "The French
are men; the English are worse than women!" The English had
turned over the fort to the French without any resistance.
- George Washington brings a force westward, expecting to meet up
with an army under Colonel Joshua Fry. Encamped east of the
Monongehela, in a large meadow where he constructed poorly
designed fortifications (which his troops called Ford Necessity),
the French -- supported by warriors from nine different tribes --
attacked. Washington was forced to capitulate. The English had,
for the moment, been pushed back across the Alleghenies.
- In the wake of Washington's defeat, a congress of the colonies
is called in Albany, New York colony. Seven of the thirteen
colonies send representatives. Benjamin Franklin, from
Pennsylvania, is recognized and speaks:
"There is a writer of our day named Kennedy, who has written
an intriguing work entitled Importance of Gaining and
Preserving the Friendship of the Indians. I do not know Mr.
Kennedy personally or what qualifications he has, but this is of
little importance, for what he has to say makes good sense. He
comments in detail on the strength of the League which has for
centuries bound our friends the Iroquois together in a common tie
which no crisis, however grave, since its foundation has managed
to disrupt. Further, this League does not infringe upon the rights
of their individual tribes. Gentlemen, I propose now that all of
British America be federated under a single legislature and a
president general to be appointed by the Crown."
1755 (3 April)
- Simon Kenton is born, Prince William County, Virginia.
- Brigadier General Edward Braddock is promoted to major general
and arrives in British America with 1,000 troops to take command
of all military affairs. Braddock very soon made plans to march
against the French at Fort Duquesne. Accompanying Braddock are
George Washington and a young frontiersman named Daniel Boone.
- William Johnson is assigned to attack Fort St. Frederec at
Crown Point on Lake Champlain. At abou the same time, Johnson was
appointed by the King as Supervisor of Indian Affairs for the Six
Nations and their Allies.
- Braddock assembles his army of 2,200 at Fort Cumberland,
- A French army of 6,000 troops arrived in Canada under the
command of Baron Ludwig Dieskau. Duquesne is succeeded as governor
by Pierre Francois Rigaud de Vaudreuil. At Fort Duquesne,
Uh-pahn-tee-yag's (Pontiac's) warriors, as well as Shawnees,
Delawares and warriors from other tribes joined the French to
await the arrival of Braddock's army.
1755 (2 July)
- The French fort of Beausejour on the Bay of Fundy, falls to an
English naval force.
1755 (8 July)
- Some 800 French and their warrior allies depart from Ft.
Duquesne to set up an ambush against Braddock. Braddock refuses to
protect his force from ambush, insisting that his army fight as in
Europe. The ambush is a total success. Braddock is killed along
with over 900 of his force. The French lose 16 and the tribes some
1755 (8 September)
- William Johnson's army stops the French advance down the Hudson
River at the southern edge of Lake George. This battle also
brought Iroquois against Iroquois and the destruction of the
Iroquois League. Tiyanoga, chief of the Mohawks, was one of those
- As the year ends, the French construct a strong fort, called
Carillon, at Ticonderoga, at the northern end of Lake Champlain.
- The new commander of French forces in New France arrives; he is
Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozen de Saint-Veran.
- The English and colonial forces in North America come under the
command of General James Abercromby. However, John Campbell, the
Earl of Loudoun, arrives in July to succeed Abercromby.
- General Campbell orders Colonel Daniel Webb up the Mohawk River
to reinforce Fort Oswego on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.
Days later, Montcalm attacked (armed with some 22 cannon
Braddock's army had left behind as it retreated the previous
year). The English abandoned Fort Ontario and moved to Fort
Oswego, on the west bank of the Onondaga River. After a brief
period of bombardment, the English surrender the fort as well as
the small fleet of ships attached to the English force.
- Colonel Daniel Webb, ordered by General Campbell to reinforce
Fort Oswega, finds the fort in ruins. General Campbell holds some
10,000 troops at Forts Edward and William Henry but does nothing
to impede or challenge Montcalm.
- General Campbell orders the army to winter quarters in Boston,
New York and Philadelphia. Of General Campbell, Benjamin Franklin
observed in the Pennsylvania legislature: "[Major General
Shirley] would, if continued in place, have made a much better
campaign than that of [Campbell], which was frivolous, expensive,
and disgraceful to our nation beyond conception."
- General Campbell marches his army to attack and take the French
fortress at Louisbourg on Nova Scotia and begin an effective
blockage of the entrance to the St. Lawrence. His attack fails and
he returns to New York. Another English commander, this one of
remarkable talent, arrives in Albany, New York. This was brigadier
general George Howe. Of Howe, Colonel James Wolfe wrote: Howe "is
the noblest Englishman that has appeared in my time, and the best
soldier in the British Army."
- Montcalm attacks Fort William Henry. Major General Webb, at
Fort Edward, declines to send assistance to Colonel Monro. Two
thousand N.Y. militia under Sir William Johnson arrive at Fort
Edward, ready to march to Fort William Henry. Still, Webb does
nothing. Johnson, it is written, yells at Webb: "General
Webb, just what in the hell are you doing sitting here when Fort
William Henry is under attack? ...We've got men fighting and dying
up at the lake. They have got to have help. Now!"
On August 9, Monro surrenders to Montcalm and abandons the fort,
now continually harassed by the warriors allied to the French. The
next day, as the English begin their march back to Fort Edward,
Panaouska, war chief of the Abnakis, signals an attack. Before
Montcalm could bring a halt, nearly a hundred of the English are
killed in a few minutes.
After demolishing Fort William Henry, Montcalm escorts some 400
English toward Fort Edward, then withdraws north back to Montreal.
- The warriors supporting the French in the attack on Fort
William Henry had been extremely bloodthirsty, to the point of
disinterring dead English to mutilate their bodies. What they did
not stop to think about and did not understand was that many of
the English had died not of wounds in battle but from smallpox.
Many warriors became infected. Back at their villages, the
infected warriors spread the disease to hundreds of others. Many
more died than all those killed in battle.
- General Howe begins to learn the tactics of forest warfare in
North American from Robert Rogers and his rangers. Howe uses what
he learns to train British troops.
- A council of the Iroquois tribes is called at Onondaga for the
purpose of strengthening the tribal confederation in opposition to
both English and French intrusions. Sir William Johnson (in his
Mohawk role of Warraghiyagey) manages to convince some of the
chiefs that the cause of the English is their cause as well.
- A new army, under the command of General John Forbes, gathers
at Philadelphia for a march across Pennsylvania against the French
at Fort Duquesne. At the same time, Howe heads a force of some
15,000 against Montcalm at Fort Carillon on Lake Champlain.
Tragically for the British forces, Howe was one of the first
killed -- in a minor skirmish with a French patrol. Responsibility
for the attack now falls to the most incompetent and fearful Major
General -- James Abercromby. Abercromby orders repeated frontal
assaults against the fort, without use of artillery, then
withdraws, leaving for the French a large quantity of supplies and
- The English finally achieve a major victory over the French.
General Jeffrey Amherst attacks on June 8, destroying the French
fleet at Louisbourg and keeps up a continuous bombardment of the
fort until its surrender on July 27. The supply line between
Quebec and France is now severely threatened, if not wholly
- Abercromby orders the construction of a new fort at "the
Great Carrying Place" of the Mohawk River. Late in the month,
a force under General Bradstreet marches on the French at Fort
Frontenac, capturing and then desroying the fort and the French
fleet on Lake Ontario.
- Desperate for men and supplies, Montcalm decides to send his
aide-de-camp, Capt. Louis Antoine de Bouganville, to France to
petition the King. In his journal, Bouganville writes: "In
the last ten years the country has changed its condition. Before
that time one was happy here because, even with little, one still
had in abundance all things necessary for life; one did not wish
to be rich, one did not even have the idea of wealth; no one was
poor. ...An exhausted colony cannot sustain the fatigue and the
expense. The peculators do not tire at all. The peril of Canada,
which becomes that of the state, makes no change in their method;
this dried-up land can no longer furnish anything for their greed.
...this Great Society, a law to itself, is the true Commissary
General; itself it sets the prices. They traffic with our
subsistence and with our life. Is there no remedy for this evil
which is so extreme?"
- Sir William Johnson organizes a conference at Easton,
Pennsylvania, attended by representatives of Virginia, Maryland,
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island,
as well as chiefs from the Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga,
Oneida, Tuscarora, Shawnees, Delawares, Mohegans, Miamis and Weas.
To solve long-standing irritations between the Pennsylvania
Proprietaries and the Iroquois, Johnson negotiates the return of
the lands of the west back to the Iroquois.
- To the minister of war, Montcalm writes: "What a country!
Here all the knaves grow rich, and the honest men are ruined. Yet,
I am resolved to stand by it to the last, and will bury myself
under its ruins if need be."
- Faced with starvation, the French abandon Fort Duquesne. The
English force, under General John Forbes, arrives the following
day to take possession of the forks of the Allegheny and
- At council is held near the French fort at the detroit. Chiefs
of the Ottawas, Chippewas, Hurons and Potawatomies meet to discuss
what to do in the face of French losses. Ub-won-di-yag (Pontiac),
responded: "The French are our friends. They have been, they
are now, they always will be. Just as we are theirs. We do not
desert a friend at the time he needs us. Yes! We will fight beside
them, as long as there is breath in us to fight!"
- Bougainville returns from France. To Montcalm he reports: "France,
sir, has suffered reverses almost everywhere. She has been
unfortunate by sea as well as by land. Her navy is badly crippled,
her finances are ruined and the only source of victory she can
claim is at your own hands here in North America."
- General Abercromby is recalled to England, his command given to
Major General Jeffrey Amherst. Yet, Amherst had little time for
the colonial militia and none for the tribes allied to the
English. War plans arrive from William Pitt, calling for a
two-pronged advance on Montreal, one north over land, the other
down the St. Lawrence. Part of the plan involves the rebuilding
and regarrisoning of Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario, as the launch
site for a move against the French at Fort Niagara. Sir William
Johnson is appointed second-in-command udner the English Colonel
- Sixty English warships under General James Wolfe set sail up
the St. Lawrence toward Quebec.
- Prideaux's force approaches Fort Niagara, and Prideaux slowly
moves his artillery into position to bombard the fort. Prideaux is
accidentally killed by one of his own shells, which explodes
prematurely. Sir William Johnson takes command and immediately
sets up an ambush for the French relief force on its way. In the
fight that occurs, the French are destroyed and surrender Fort
Niagara to Johnson. The French then abandon and burn their forts
at Machault, Le Boeuf and Presque Isle.
- Wolfe begins the bombardment of Quebec, where Montcalm has
established his forces in defensive positions. Held at bay for all
of July and August, Wolfe learns that the slopes at the western
edge of Quebec are weakly protected. On September 13 he sends a
strong force to scale the slopes and assembles his force for an
attack across the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe is mortally wounded in
the battle; a short time later Montcalm is also wounded; after
lingering on through the night, Montcalm dies the next day.
- Following the death of Montcalm, the French forces eventually
retreat and Montreal falls to the English.
- George II dies, and the English thrown passes to his son,
crowned George III.
- A confederation of Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawatomies, Hurons and
others, under the leadership of Pontiac, attacks the British at
Fort Detroit and other British posts throughout the western
wilderness. All but Fort Detroit fall to the Indians'.
Pontiac opens a seige of the fort that lasts for weeks, a type of
warfare these tribes have litle patience for.
1763 (23 June)
- Major Robert Rogers, as second in command, departs Albany with
a force of some 220 men in reflief of the troops holding Fort
1763 (3 July)
- From New York, General Sir Jeffrey Amherst writes to Major
Henry Gladwin at Fort Detroit: "... and it is my will and
desire, Sir, that immediate and total vengeance be taken upon all
Indians in every encounter you may have with them and that no
mercy whatever be shown to these perfidious barbarians. They must
be destroyed utterly as an example for any others who might hope
to follow the patern they have set. ..."
1763 (26 July)
- A force of Ottawa, Shawnee, Delaware, Huron and Wyandot
warriors begin the siege of Fort Pitt, lifted August 1 to set up
an ambush against a relief force heading south.
1763 (29 July)
- Robert Rogers and his force arrive to reinforce Fort Detroit.
1763 (5 August)
- The force of some 500 troops under Colonel Henry Bouquet is
attacked, around 25 miles from Fort Pitt. With heavy losses,
Bouquet manages to repel the attack and march to the fort.
1763 (15 September)
- At the request of Sir William Johnson, a council is held with
chiefs of the Six Nations. Johnson asks the chiefs to intervene
with the western tribes and to tell them of Amherst's plans to
march an English army through the Iroquois territory.
1763 (19 September)
- At Fort Detroit, the Potawatomies of Chiefs Washee and Kioqua
leave Pontiac's force and return to their villages. At council,
Manitou, peace chief of Pontiac's own Ottawa tribe challenges
Pontiac: "You have told us that all the tribes are with you,
Pontiac. We have seen with our eyes that this is not true. You
have told us that the French King will send you an army, but we no
longer believe this to be true. You have told us that you will
destroy the Englishmen and drive them from among us, but even this
is not true. Where the English have been driven out, it has been
by others, not by you." A third of the Ottawa warriors
followed Manitou out and away from the Fort Detroit region.
- In London, the government issues a Proclamation restricting the
westward limit of white settlement to the crest of the Appalachian
1763 (31 October)
- Pontiac's allies leave to return home to harvest crops, hunt
and prepare for the winter. Pontiac is forced to lift the siege of
1763 (17 November)
- Sir Jeffrey Amherst turns over his command in North America to
Major General Thomas Gage and departs for England. Gage
immediately plans a strategy based on the realities of wilderness
- At the urging of Sir William Johnson, Thayendanegea and Mohawk
war parties are sent against the Delawares living on the west
branch of the Susquehenna River. Their success forces the
Delawares to move far to west and contributes to the collapse of
1764 (6 August)
- The English at Fort Niagara are reinforced with several
thousand well-equipped troops. Here, Sir William Johnson calls for
a peace council attended by the Otawas, Chippewas, Hurons,
Mississaugi and Potawatomies, Abnakis, Algonkins, Caughnawagas,
Nipissings, the Six Nations of the Iroquois League and
representatives of the Great Lake tribes. Only the Wyandots,
Delawares and Shawnees refused to attend.
- Without authority from General Gage, Colonel John Bradstreet
marches to Fort Detroit, treating with the Delawares and Shawnees
he encounters along the way rather than destroying their villages
as ordered by Gage. At the same time, Pontiac directs attacks all
along the frontier. Late in October, again without orders,
Bradstreet suddenly decides to pull out and return to the East.
- Colonel Henry Bouquet begins an expedition against the Shawnees
and Delawares on the Pennsylvania frontier. In the heart of the
Delaware territory, Bouquet builds a defensive fort and holds
council with these tribes, threatening them with annihilation if
they do not immediately submit. Many prisoners are returned by the
- The British Parliament passes The Stamp Act as a means to raise
revenue from the colonists to at least partially pay for the cost
of posting British troops on the North American frontier.
1766 (18 March)
- The Stamp Act is repealed. On the same day Parliament passes
the Declaratory Act, asserting its right to make laws binding on
1767 (4 July)
- In the Sac village Saukenuk, on the Rock River in the Illinois
territory, three miles from the Mississippi, Makataimeshekiakiak
-- Black Sparrow Hawk -- is born.
- Near Chillicothe, the principal Shawnee village (located on the
Little Miami River in what is today western Ohio), Tecumseh is
born to Pucksinwah and Methotasa. At the moment of his birth, a
comet passes overhead; so, the child is named Tecumseh, which
- A grand council is held at Fort Stanwix on the upper Mohawk
River. Over 3,000 Indians' attend and enter into a major
treaty with the agents of Britain in the colonies.
- British troops arrive in Boston to enforce customs laws.
1769 (20 April)
- At the village of Cahokia, Pontiac, aged forty-nine, is
murdered by a young Peoria warrior, Pini. He had expected to be
honored by his own people for destroying Pontiac, who many feared
as an enemy of the Illinois League. Instead, he became a hunted
fugitive. In retaliation the Ottawa, Potawatomi and Kickapoo
warriors invaded the Illinois territory on a campaign of genocide
against the Illinois Confederacy.
TO PART 1
The next section details the
struggle by the European-American colonists for
independence from Britain.