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The Seven Years War was a major conflict which spanned Seven years between 1756 and 1763. The war was fought on five of the world's seven continents, and resulted in the rise of the French Empire in North America. The war resulted in a French victory, and the ceding of much of Northern America to France, including several major British colonies.
The war's two decisive battles were the Siege of Quebec and the Battle for New York, which resulted in French victories. Those battles allowed France to gain control of the war, and bring the war to a conclusive end.
The Seven Years War was fought mainly on the North American continent, with sporadic fighting in Europe and other parts of the world. It was caused mainly by years of animosity between the United Kingdom and France, and also by the murder of French diplomats by British militia under the command of an American officer, George Washington.
Washington was under orders by the local British Governor to go to the French territory, and evict them from territory the British Empire claimed as its own. Along the way, his force encountered a French diplomat and Washington's native allies murdered the French delegation. When word of this reached the French Provincial governor, he took this as an act of war, and dispatched French colonial militia along with natives from the many tribes France was allied with.
In the course of this struggle, about 175 of Washington's troops, including Washington himself, were killed, and another 300 taken prisoner. This is recorded as the first fighting in what would later become the Seven Year's War.
Across the world, France had access to over a million men, and many ships and ships of the line. However, they did not possess the best in either category, Prussia had the best land forces, and the United Kingdom had the best naval forces in the world. As such, they were hindered by several factors, which left certain options unavailible.
During this time period, the British were allied with Prussia and Hanover on the European Continent. The British were keen on using these land forces to their advantage to hold off any French incursion upon Great Britain itself, and to keep them occupied.
The conflict itself technically began when forces under the command of George Washington murdered a French diplomatic delegation in territory west of the American colonies. This led to the local French governor ordering a retaliation upon Washington's command to evict them from New France. The Battle for Fort Necessity saw the destruction of Washington's command, and also his death. It also placed a French army in a strategic location, west of the Appalachians. From here they could strike eastward.
The first moves on the European continent occurred on the British island of Minorca. There, a French army numbering 15,000 troops under the command of the Duc de Richelieu besieged and captured the island, gaining a strategic foothold in the Mediterranean Sea. They raised the French flag at Fort St. Philip on June 29, 1756.
Theaters of Conflict
Around the same time as the Siege of Minorca, the French commander in North America, the Marquis de Montcalm, began to draft plans for a French invasion of the North Eastern section of the American colonies. This would force the British on the defensive, and also ensure that French Newfoundland would be safe from a land invasion from the south.
Preparations for the operation were undertaken, and by late October the plan was ready to execute. 7,000 Natives from over 20 Allied tribes would join forces with 14,000 French colonial troops in Quebec. From there they would march south, cross the St. Lawrence River, and capture the British forts in the North of New York.
They crossed the river successfully, and captured Fort William Henry in mid-November. From there, they marched on Albany and captured it on December 4th, after a brief skirmish with the local British garrison of a few hundred. The Allied forces spent the remainder of the Winter there, leaving on February 12, 1757.
During the winter, the British commander, General Amehurst, was forced to create a defense plan to save New York from occupation. Through his Native allies, he eventually decided to march northward and meet Montcalm's forces head on.
In the resulting battle near White Plains, Battle for New York, Amehurst's forces were devastated, losing over 4,000 troops and being forced to retreat from New York.
The Marquis marched on New York City next, and began his two month siege on March 17th. After months of constant bombardment, and naval blockade by a French fleet brought north from New Orleans, New York City surrendered on June 29, 1757. Montcalm's plan to capture New York had succeeded.
Right afterwards, a British troop transport fleet carrying reinforcements for Amehurst was intercepted by the French fleet. In the ensuing battle, the transports were forced to turn back. Amehurst was on his own.
To deal with the diminished, but still powerful threat from Amehurst's forces, the Marquis de Montcalm marched towards New Jersey after receiving reinforcements from Quebec. He cornered and defeated the British Army of Northern America at the Battle of Waterloo, in New Jersey. After the battle, Amehurst surrendered to the French army, and was taken prisoner.
To complete his conquest of the North East of America, Montcalm launched a three-pronged assault upon the colonies of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. By the end of the year, he was in Boston, waiting out the winter. It is for these reasons, that 1757 is referred to as the First Annus Mirabilis of France - Lucky Year.