1754-1783: Military: Chronology

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1754-1783: Military: Chronology




  • The French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Years War in Europe, begins.
  • Jan. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, fearing French encroachment in western Virginia, sends Capt. William Trent to build a fort at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers (site of modern Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).
  • 17 Apr. French troops drive away Trent and erect Fort Duquesne.
  • May Governor Dinwiddie gives George Washington charge of a militia unit with the mission of seizing Fort Duquesne.
  • 28 May Washington defeats the French near Great Meadows (present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania).
  • June Lacking sufficient force to attack Fort Duquesne, Washington builds Fort Necessity at Great Meadows.
  • 3 July French troops force the surrender of Fort Necessity, allowing Washington and his men to march out with the honors of war.


  • 20 Feb. Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock arrives at Hampton Roads, Virginia, with two British regiments to assume responsibility as British commander in chief in North America.
  • 14 Apr. Braddock and the colonial governors plan attacks on the French at Fort Duquesne, Crown Point, Fort Niagara and in Nova Scotia.
  • June Braddock advances on Fort Duquesne with 1,400 British troops and 450 colonial militia.
  • 16 June Fort Beauséjour, guarding the top of the Bay of Fundy, surrenders to a British and colonial force under Colonels Robert Monckton and John Winslow.
  • 9 July Braddocks force is destroyed, and he is mortally wounded in the Battle of Monongahela, seven miles from Fort Duquesne.
  • Aug. Massachusetts governor William Shirley, Braddocks successor as commander in chief, leads an expedition up the Mohawk River in New York to attack the French at Fort Niagara.
  • 8 Sept. Sir William Johnson defeats Baron Ludwig August Dieskau in the Battle of Lake George. Frustrated by the unreliability of his militia, Johnson abandons the attack on Crown Point and builds Fort William Henry at the head of Lake George.
  • 8 Oct. Six thousand Acadians of French ancestry, though neutral in the wars between France and England, are deported from what is now Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
  • 24 Oct. Governor Shirley abandons the attack on Fort Niagara, leaving a small garrison at Oswego to menace French lines of communication.


  • 11 May Gen. Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Montcalm de Saint Véran, arrives to take command of French regular troops in Canada, with Gov. Pierre de Rigaud Vaudreuil continuing to command the militia.
  • 18 May Great Britain officially declares war on France.
  • 23 July Gen. John Campbell, Earl of Loudon, arrives to take command in British North America.
  • 14 Aug. Montcalm overwhelms the garrison at Oswego and destroys the fort there.


  • Prime Minister William Pitt assumes direction of the war against France.
  • 30 June Loudon arrives in Halifax to mount an attack on Fort Louisbourg.
  • 9 Aug. Montcalm captures Fort William Henry. While the British and colonials who had surrendered are marching out with the honors of war, the Indian allies of the French attack them.
  • 24 Sept. The Louisbourg expedition is abandoned after the British fleet blockading the port is scattered by a storm.
  • 30 Dec. Gen. James Abercrombie replaces Loudon as British commander in chief.


  • 9 Feb. Gen. Jeffrey Amherst arrives in North America with troops earmarked to attack Louisbourg.
  • 30 May Amherst and Gen. James Wolfe arrive at Louisbourg with nine thousand British regulars and five hundred militia.
  • 2 June The siege of Fort Louisbourg begins.
  • July Gen. John Forbes begins an advance on Fort Pitt over the route used by Brad-dock. Col. George Washington commands a Virginia regiment.
  • 8 July Montcalm with three thousand men defeats Abercrombies army of fifeeen thousand in the Battle of Ticonderoga.
  • 27 July Fort Louisbourg falls.
  • 27 Aug. Col. John Bradstreet seizes Fort Frontenac in Ontario (now Kingston).
  • 24 Nov. To prevent its capture, the French blow up Fort Duquesne and retreat; Forbes rebuilds it and names it Fort Pitt.


  • William Pitt plans a three-pronged attack on the French in North America: Fort Niagara is to be seized to prevent French attacks on western settlements from the St. Lawrence River; Montreal and Quebec are to be threatened by an attack up the Champlain Valley; and Quebec is to be attacked by an expedition down the St. Lawrence River.
  • June Brig. Gen. John Prideaux begins the siege of Fort Niagara and is accidentally killed during the bombardment of the post.
  • 26 June Gen. James Wolfe begins the siege of Quebec with nine thousand troops facing the Marquis de Montcalms fourteen thousand soldiers.
  • 25 July Sir William Johnson captures Fort Niagara.
  • 26 July General Amherst drives the French out of Ticonderoga.
  • 31 July British and colonial troops capture Crown Point.
  • 12 Sept. Having found a footpath up seemingly impassable cliffs, British troops ascend by night to attack Quebec.
  • 13 Sept. Wolfe defeats Montcalm in battle on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec; both generals are killed.
  • 17 Sept. Quebec surrenders.


  • 28 Apr. French forces under Gen. François de Lévis defeat the British in another battle on the Plains of Abraham.
  • 16 May British reinforcements lift the French siege of Quebec.
  • Sept. British and colonial troops from Oswego, Crown Point, and Quebec converge on Montreal.
  • 8 Sept. General Amherst captures Montreal.



  • Feb. The Caribbean island of Martinique is captured by Adm. George Rodney.
  • 20 June-10 Aug. The British beseige Havana, Cuba, and capture it from Spain.
  • 5 Oct. The British capture Manila, the Philippines, from Spain.
  • 3 Nov. The preliminary peace treaty between the British and French is signed at Fontainebleau.


  • 10 Feb. The Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War.
  • 7 May The Ottawas and allied tribes under Pontiac besiege Detroit to prevent British settlement of western territories.
  • May-June Indians destroy all forts west of Niagara except Fort Pitt and Detroit; more settlers are slaughtered than at the height of the French and Indian War.
  • 4-6 Aug. A column of British and colonial troops advancing to relieve Fort Pitt is ambushed but routs its attackers in the Battle of Bushy Run.
  • 7 Oct. King George III signs a proclamation forbidding settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains and ordering settlers in western Ohio out of Indian lands.
  • 12 Oct. Western Indians (with the exception of Pontiac) make peace with the British.
  • 30 Oct. Pontiac lifts the siege of Fort Detroit.


  • 16-18 Jan. A skirmish occurs at Golden Hill, New York, between British regulars and the Sons of Liberty.
  • 5 Mar. British regulars in Boston fire on a mob, killing or mortally wounding five people.


  • 16 May At the Battle of Alamance Creek, North Carolina, militiamen suppress a rebellion by frontiersmen.


  • 10 Oct. Virginia militia sent by Gov. John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, suppress a Shawnee Indian uprising in the Battle of Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the Kahahwa River.


  • 19 Apr. Seven hundred redcoats sent by the governor of Massachusetts to seize arms held by colonists at Concord fire on 70 colonists at Lexington Green, killing 8 and wounding 10. On the way back to Boston the British suffer 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing.
  • Apr. The American siege of Boston begins.
  • 10-12 May Col. Ethan Allen of Vermont and his Green Mountain Boys capture Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
  • 12 June Lumbermen in Machias, Maine, seize the British cutter Margaretta.
  • 15 June George Washington is named to command the Continental Army besieging Boston.
  • 17 June The British sustain heavy losses in overcoming colonial positions at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
  • 3 July Washington takes command at Cambridge.
  • 2 Nov. Gen. Richard Montgomery captures the Canadian town of St. Johns.
  • 13 Nov. Montgomery occupies Montreal.
  • 31 Dec. The Americans are repulsed in an attack on Quebec, with Montgomery and one hundred others killed; among the three hundred wounded is Benedict Arnold.


  • Jan.-May Arnold besieges Quebec.
  • 27 Feb. North Carolina Rebels defeat an army of Tories in the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge.
  • 17 Mar. The British abandon Boston, sailing to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • 23 Mar. Congress authorizes privateers to capture British ships.
  • 6 May British reinforcements arrive at Quebec, and Americans retreat to Montreal.
  • May-June Washington moves the Continental army to New York.
  • 4 June Gen. Sir Henry Clinton besieges Charleston, South Carolina.
  • 8 June Gen. John Burgoyne with eight thousand troops routs an American army of two thousand at Trois Rivières.
  • June-July The Americans retire to Fort Ticonderoga as Canadian governor Guy Carleton prepares an invasion of New York.
  • 28 June After the British fleet is severely damaged by American artillery, Clinton lifts the siege of Charleston.
  • 27 Aug. Lord William Howe wins the Battle of Long Island, compelling Washington to evacuate his troops to Manhattan.
  • 6-7 Sept. David Bushnells American Turtle, a one-man submersible craft, attacks a British warship off Staten Island, the first submarine attack in the history of warfare.
  • 12 Sept. Washington retreats from New York.
  • 16 Sept. In the Battle of Harlem Heights, Washingtons army briefly checks the British pursuit.
  • 28 Oct. Washington is defeated at White Plains.
  • 28 Oct. An American flotilla on Lake Champlain is defeated in the Battle of Valcour Is-land, but the British withdraw to Canada for the winter.
  • 20 Nov. Forts Washington and Lee fall, forcing the Continental Army to retreat through New Jersey.
  • 26 Dec. Crossing the Delaware River by night, Washington surprises and routs the Hessian garrison of Trenton.


  • 5 July British and Canadian troops under Gen. John Burgoyne capture Fort Ticonderoga, hoping to link with forces moving northward from New York City to isolate the New England colonies.
  • 25 July Col. Barry St. Leger besieges Fort Stanwix at Rome, New York, with a force of British, Hessians, Loyalists, and Indians.
  • 8 Aug. Hurrying to the aid of Fort Stanwix, Gen. Nicholas Herkimers militia is defeated in the Battle of Oriskany.
  • 16 Aug. German troops sent into Vermont by Burgoyne to seize arms are defeated by Col. John Stark at the Battle of Bennington.
  • 23 Aug. St. Leger abandons the siege of Fort Stanwix.
  • 11 Sept. Having brought troops up Chesapeake Bay, Lord William Howe defeats George Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, forcing him back to Philadelphia.
  • 19 Sept. Finding Americans under Gen. Horatio Gates entrenched on Bemis Heights, eight miles from Saratoga, New York, Burgoyne attacks their left flank at Freemans Farm but meets with defeat.
  • 26 Sept. Howe seizes Philadelphia.
  • 4 Oct. Washington is defeated at Germantown.
  • 7 Oct. In the Battle of Bemis Heights, Burgoyne fails to turn the Americans left flank and has to retreat.
  • 17 Oct. Surrounded by a superior American force, Burgoyne surrenders his army.


  • The Continental Army, starving and freezing in winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, continues to drill and train, learning new skills from Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben.
  • 23 Apr. Capt. John Paul Jones raids ashore in the British Isles.
  • 17 June France declares war on Britain.
  • 18 June Sir Henry Clinton, Lord William Howes successor, evacuates Philadelphia and marches toward New York.
  • 28 June Washingtons troops attack Clintons army at Monmouth Courthouse, New Jersey.
  • 3 July Indian allies of the British massacre settlers in the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.
  • 23 Sept. John Paul Jones, commanding the USS Bonhomme Richard, captures the HMS Serapis.
  • 11 Nov. Indians massacre settlers at Cherry Valley, New York.
  • 29 Dec. British troops under Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell capture Savannah, Georgia.


  • 29 Jan. Campbell seizes Augusta, Georgia.
  • 25 Feb. George Rogers Clark, commanding a small force of American militia, captures Vincennes, Indiana.
  • 31 May The British capture Stony Point, New York.
  • 16 June Spain declares war on England.
  • 16 July American general Anthony Wayne recaptures Stony Point.
  • 3 Sept. French troops under Adm. Jean-Baptiste-Charles-Henri-Hector dEstaing and Americans under Gen. Benjamin Lincoln besiege Savannah.
  • 9 Oct. The French and Americans are defeated in an assault on Savannah.
  • 28 Oct. The siege of Savannah is lifted.
  • 26 Dec. Clinton sails from New York to attack Charleston, South Carolina.


  • 14 Mar. Spanish forces capture Mobile from the British.
  • 11 Apr. The siege of Charleston begins.
  • 12 May Charleston surrenders. Clinton returns to New York, leaving Gen. Charles Cornwallis to complete the conquest of the Carolinas.
  • 11 July A French army of five thousand under Gen. Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, lands at Newport, Rhode Island, to cooperate with the Americans in a proposed assault on New York.
  • 16 Aug. General Gatess militia is defeated in the Battle of Camden, leaving only guerrilla forces to contend with the British in the Carolinas.
  • 23 Sept. Benedict Arnolds treacherous attempt to surrender West Point to the British is discovered. He flees to the British and is commissioned a brigadier in their army.
  • 7 Oct. Carolina and Virginia frontiersmen destroy a force of more than one thousand Tory militia men in the Battle of Kings Mountain, leading General Cornwallis to abandon plans to invade North Carolina.
  • 2 Dec. Gen. Nathanael Greene takes command of the American forces in the Carolinas.
  • 20 Dec. Greene sends Gen. Daniel Morgan on a march through the western Carolinas.
  • 20 Dec. Britain declares war on the Netherlands, which has been supplying the rebellious colonists.


  • 5 Jan. Benedict Arnold, now in British uniform, captures Richmond, Virginia.
  • 17 Jan. British cavalry leader Banastre Tarleton catches Morgans force, but he is defeated at the Battle of Cowpens.
  • Jan.-Mar. Cornwallis pursues Greenes army.
  • 15 Mar. Cornwallis wins a costly victory at Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Realizing he cannot maintain control of the Carolinas, he moves into Virginia.
  • 19 Apr. Greenes army moves toward Camden but is checked at the Battle of Hobkirks Hill.
  • May-July Gen. Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, commanding American forces in Virginia, conducts a war of maneuver, refusing to let Cornwallis bring him to battle.
  • 9 May The British surrender Pensacola to Spanish forces.
  • 19 June Greenes siege of Fort Ninety-Six in southwestern South Carolina results in a British withdrawal toward Charleston.
  • 4 Aug. Under orders from Clinton, Cornwallis occupies Yorktown, Virginia.
  • 13 Aug. A French fleet under Adm. De Grasse sails for the Chesapeake Bay.
  • 21 Aug. Realizing that Cornwallis could be trapped, Washington leads his army south from New York.
  • 30 Aug. De Grasse arrives off Yorktown and reinforces Lafayette with infantry.
  • 5-9 Sept. Naval fighting off Yorktown results in a French victory.
  • 8 Sept. Checked at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, Greene nevertheless compels the re-treat of the British army to Charleston.
  • 14 Sept. Washingtons troops begin arriving at Williamsburg to reinforce Lafayette.
  • 28 Sept. Seventeen thousand French and American troops begin the siege of the eight thousand British troops in Yorktown.
  • 19 Oct. Cornwallis surrenders.
  • 24 Oct. Clinton arrives too late to save Cornwallis and sails back to New York.
  • Nov. Washington marches back to New York.


  • Greene besieges Charleston while Washington blockades New York.
  • 30 Nov. The Treaty of Paris is signed.


  • 15 Mar. At army headquarters in Newburgh, New York, Washington denounces a threat by officers to rebel against Congress.
  • 15 Apr. The Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
  • 21 June Mutinous Pennsylvania troops surround Congresss meeting place to demand their pay; Congress leaves Philadelphia for New Jersey.
  • 25 Nov. The British evacuate New York.
  • 23 Dec. Addressing Congress in Annapolis, Maryland, Washington resigns his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army.

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1754-1783: Military: Chronology

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1754-1783: Military: Chronology