The Detroit River: The Seven Years War

Rogers' Rangers take control of Fort Detroit (Image Credit: Don Troiani, 2010)
Rogers' Rangers take control of Fort Detroit (Image Credit: Don Troiani, 2010)

The following is Part 3 in a series about the Detroit River. To view Part 2 click here. To view Part 1 click here.

George Washington as "Colonel of the Virginia Regiment and Commander in Chief of all forces now raised in the defense of His Majesty's Colony"

George Washington as “Colonel of the Virginia Regiment and Commander in Chief of all forces now raised in the defense of His Majesty’s Colony”

The Seven Years War, also known as the French and Indian War, took place between 1754 and 1763 with the main conflicts occurring during the seven years between 1756 and 1763. This war embodied rising tensions between the great European Powers, their colonies, and allies. It is thought that in 1754, the conflict was ignited outright when a force of British colonial militia marched from Virginia to current day Pittsburgh in order to interrupt the building of French Fort Duquesne. In the surrounding woods, the force ambushed a small number of French soldiers outside the fort. The force was commanded by a young British colonel by the name of George Washington. The French responded by attacking the British at Fort Necessity and, eventually, this lead to Washington’s defeat.

Fort Detroit as it appeared in 1764

Ultimately, George Washington’s attack lead to full scale war between the French and British as well as their native allies. Compared to Quebec City and Louisbourg, Fort Detroit played only a small role in the Seven Years War, but did serve as a French garrison until in 1760 the British, under Robert Rogers who commanded the Rogers’ Rangers took control. French colonial power in the Michigan region, and largely in North America was shattered. Detroit has spoken English ever since.

Chief Pontiac of the Odawa

Chief Pontiac of the Odawa

After the British took control of Fort Detroit, they enforced much stricter taxes and laws upon the local farmers and natives. The British refused to sell arms or ammunition to the native tribes and, in turn, the tribes were no longer able to hunt and trap as well. This stressed relations between British power and the local Odawa tribe to a breaking point. Come 1763 Chief Pontiac led a confederation of Odawa tribes in a siege of Fort Detroit, which became a part of the larger conflict known as Pontiac’s War. The siege of Fort Detroit lasted about two months before it was broken by a British lead, large scale, relief force. Fort Detroit lay in relative peace from that point on until 1775 when a new conflict arose in the British colonies further east…

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