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King George's War: Timeline & Summary

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Did you know that France and England were at war with one another over land in the New World long before the American Revolution? This lesson explains the causes and major events of King George's War.

A History of Conflict

Today, Great Britain and France are close allies. They have close trade and economic ties, and not to mention they fought alongside one another to win two world wars. While these two countries are good friends today, about 300 years ago, that was not the case. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, England and France fought countless wars over crowns and territories. As both countries started expanding across the Atlantic Ocean, the same conflicts became an issue in the colonies.

The War of the Austrian Succession

Beginning in 1713, England entered into a trade partnership with Spanish following the signing of the Treaties of Utrecht that ended Queen Anne's War. England had gained access to trade with Spanish colonies. In exchange, the Spanish had the right to search British ships to make sure they were following the terms of the treaties. Through the 1730s, Spanish search and seizures of British ships became a big problem. After a particularly outrageous ship search, a British captain had an ear cut off by a Spaniard, ultimately leading to armed conflict between the two countries.

While the War of Jenkins' ear raged on, a bigger problem was bubbling beneath the surface in Europe. There was a succession issue over the Austrian crown: who had legal right to the throne? At the time, England and its allies believed that the Austrian Maria Theresa should take the throne. Meanwhile, Spain and Prussia had other ideas. France quickly sided with Spain in the issue, a move that would give them a legitimate reason to go to war with England of territorial disputes in the New World.

England and France officially went to war on March 15, 1744. In Europe the struggle over the Austrian throne was known as the War of the Austrian Succession. The conflict ultimately spilled over into the colonies where it was known as King George's War.

King George's War

King George's War began in earnest in spring of 1744 and lasted for about three years in the New World.

1744

Although England and France knew they were at war with each other, news of the conflict took a few months to spread through the colonies in the New World. On May 23, 1744, Jean-Baptiste-Louis Le Prevost du Quesnel, the French governor of Cape Breton Island, planned to take the British in Nova Scotia by surprise. With an expeditionary force of about 200 men, the French surprised less than 100 British colonists. The French burned buildings and took prisoners, ultimately leading the British to surrender. A prisoner exchange was quickly negotiated, and both sides agreed not to upset the fishing industry that French and English colonists relied on to survive.

Through the summer of 1744, tensions escalated. The French turned to Native American allies to help them against the British. In July of 1744, the French incited a Native American attack on Annapolis Royal, located in Nova Scotia. Fortunately for the British living in the area, the governor of Massachusetts was able to send reinforcements, causing the Native American attack to fail.

Beginning on September 8, the French tried once again to capture Annapolis Royal, but this time they tried to take it by siege. French troops surrounded Fort Anne, preventing supplies from coming in, and soldiers and civilians from coming out. Meanwhile, Native Americans raided the surrounding area by night. Once again, the Massachusetts governor sent reinforcements. The siege was lifted just after a month.

1745

In spring of 1745, the English colonists were ready to go on the offensive. Massachusetts governor, WIlliam Shirley, managed to put together the largest military operation of King George's War. Roughly 4,000 men, many of which came from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire planned to capture Louisburg, a French stronghold in Canada. With aid from Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, Shirley's troops were ready to take action. The assault began on April 4 when British colonists cut off supply lines to Louisburg. Through May, they used siege tactics and caused significant damage to the French fort. The French were forced to surrender the city on June 28, 1745. Both sides suffered heavy casualties, the British lost nearly 1,000 men alone just to exposure.

Through the remainder of 1745, the French did their best to recapture Louisburg, but to no avail. Thanks to poor weather, and a number of other mishaps, the French couldn't catch a break. On August 13, 1745, the British managed to capture the French ship Notre Dame de la Deliverance off the coast of Louisburg.

1746 to 1747

Through 1746 to 1747, King George's War was at a bit of a stalemate. The French still tried to take back Louisburg and incited Native American raids on British settlements, while the British did the same thing to the French.

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