Chapter 5. The Struggle for the Continent

Indians between both French and English

The governor of Virginia sent the young major George Washington, twenty-one years old, as a messenger to the French General who had established forts along the Ohio River. Washington went for help from the chiefs of the Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo, among them the Half-King, Jeskakake, chief of the western tribes, Washington Irving wrote that Jeskakake had already gone to the French general and told him: “Fathers,” said he, “you are the disturbers of this land by building towns, and taking the country from us by fraud and force. We kindled a fire a long time since at Montreal, where we desired you to stay and not to come and intrude upon our land. I now advise you to return to that place, for this land is ours. . . . Both you and the English are white. We live in a country between you both; the land belongs to neither of you. The Great Being allotted it to us as a residence. So, fathers, I desire you, as I have desired our brothers the English, to withdraw, for I will keep you both at arm’s length. Whichever most regards this request, that side will we stand by and consider friends. Our brothers the English have heard this, and I now come to tell it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land.” But the French considered the Ohio River, having been “discovered” by La Salle, to be theirs, and were determined to prevent the English from settling near it or trading on it.

Braddock’s defeat

From the French garrison at Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania, 640 Indian allies with 250 regulars and Canadian militia left the fort too late to ambush the English expedition of 1,400 men with 86 officers led by General Braddock, so the French and Canadians did their best with a skirmish, shooting from behind trees and bushes, killing 26 officers and wounding 37, killing 456 troops and wounding 422, while on the defending side 23 were killed, and 16 wounded. * Having refused to negotiate peaceful withdrawal by the French, the general lost the battle and he lost his life, although he had scorned the strength of Indian “savages” compared to the “King’s regular and disciplined troops.”

Battle on the Plains of Abraham

Magnificence and glory do not truly sit well on those who must kill or be killed to earn respect. The Marquis de Montcalm and the young James Wolfe symbolized great powers, but their means were swords, muskets, and canons. The question of right or wrong was never asked, for the answer was not honorable. Neither the French nor the English rightly owned the land they fought for.