General Chronology of Events Preceding the War in 1754


January 11, 1754: “From the Dutch Gazettes we have the following advice, by way of article from London, dated January 11.  Within these few days new instructions have been dispatched to admiral Knowles, governor of Jamaica, concerning the manner in which he is to behave towards the Spanish guarda costas, and the means he is to make use of, in order to prevent English ships being continually in danger of being taken in carrying on a commerce which the court of Madrid is resolved not to permit or wink at.  In fact, that court plainly discovers unfavourable dispositions in all her answers to the representations made to her, whenever her guarda costas have illegally seized any of our vessels; for then she does indeed promise to get them restored; but if one gives her a hint that it would be proper to make some regulation for preventing such illegal captures hereafter, she answers, that she reserves to herself the right of taking care that no illicit trade be carried on in her dominions.”

January, 1754: “From France we are advised, that the troops raised by Col. Fisher for the service of their East India company, amounting to 1300 men, having all arrived at Nantes, during the course of last month these with several more, amounting in the whole to above 3000, sailed soon after the beginning of this month for the East Indies, under the convoy of some men of war; and have carried along with them great quantities of all sorts of warlike stores for the service.”

February, 1754: “Colonel Lawrence, who was then encamped near Trichinopoly, was obliged, according to custom, to send a party to escort provisions to the camp, consisting of 230 Europeans, eight officers, about 600 Seapoys, and four pieces of cannon. They marched on Feb. 12, and on their return upon the 15th, were attacked by a party of the enemy, consisting of 120 French, two companies of foreigners, the French troop of 100 men, 1000 topasses, 6000 seapoys, all their black cavalry, in number about 8000, and seven pieces of cannon. The detachment moved in the night, and came up with Colonel Lawrence’s detached party by break of day, as they were on their march. What men could do, they did; but the commanding officer, unfortunately afraid of losing his baggage, divided his force to save it; upon which the enemy fell in amongst them, and, although they paid dearly for it, killed or took prisoners almost the whole party.”

February 26, 1754: “By the following article from Dunkirk of Feb. 26, we may judge what condition the fortress will be in when the next war happens between the French and us.  The article runs thus: The dwelling houses in this place being insufficient to contain the great number of persons who daily resort hither, the king, in consideration of 4000 louis d’ors, has granted to Robert Henning, Esq.; and others, all the land on the south side of the harbour, as far up as the great bason at the head of the harbour, extending to the side that runs from St. Omar’s, together with all the barracks, on condition that dwelling houses be erected within the limited time. These buildings are to form a fine citadel, with spacious streets, not unlike the Tower of London, only more uniform.  It is to have communication with the town by a draw bridge, of a particular model built across the bason for foot passengers.  They are preparing to begin building in the spring; and it is thought that it will be the most compact and regular pile of the kind ever raised.”

March 5, 1754: The Mutiny Bill passes Parliament.

March 6, 1754: Mr. Pelham, premier, dies.

March 9, 1754: Sir William Lee is made chancellor of the Exchequer.

March 16, 1754: The duke of Newcastle (Mr. Pelham’s brother) is made first lord of the Treasury.

March 24, 1754: “The duke of Newcastle resigned into the King’s hands the seals of the office of one of his Majesty’s principal secretaries of state, and the King was pleased to appoint the earl of Holdernesse, to succeed his Grace, as secretary of state for the northern department, and the right honourable Sir Thomas Robinson to succeed the earl of Holdernesse, as secretary of state for the southern department.”

Spring of 1754: Members of the Ohio Company under Captain Trent and Ensign Edward Ward begin work on a fortification at the Forks of the Ohio, where the Allegheny and Monongahela merge into the Ohio at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

April, 1754: Around 500 French colonial troops evict the English from their incomplete fort and start building Fort Duquesne.

April 17, 1754: The French attack an English fleet on the Monongahela.

May 20, 1754: “Williamsburg in Virginia May 20. When all the forces now ordered to the Ohio from this and the neighbouring governments are arrived, they will make up about 1100 men, besides the assistance we expect from Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina; and a great number of Indians are ready to join us.”

May 28, 1754: Battle of Jumonville Glen or Youghiogheny, Pennsylvania. George Washington, with 40 Virginia militia and an unknown number of Allied Indians, ambushes a 30-man French patrol, killing their commander, Ensign Coulon de Jumonville, and 9 others and capturing all of the remainder except for one. Many historians regard this incident as the opening shot of the Seven Years War. On news of approaching French troops, Washington’s force retreats to Great Meadows where Fort Necessity is built.

June 13, 1754: “M. de Contrecoeur took possession of the outlines of a fort planned by the English, and when finished, called it Fort du Quesne.”

July 3, 1754: Siege of Fort Necessity, Pennsylvania. The French besiege Washington’s force at Fort Necessity. After losing a number of dead and wounded, Washington surrenders. The French commander is Coulon de Villiers, Jumonville’s half-brother.  “The commandant of the French ventured to attack the English in their entrenchment, upon information that major Washington was to be joined in a day or two by a body of 500 men.  The said major and the other officers taken prisoners have been released on their parole, upon condition that they shall not serve for a twelvemonth in those parts against the French…Divers planters of the most westerly parts of the colony, have abandoned their lands, and are removed towards the east for safety.” . Washington signs articles of capitulation in which he acknowledges the “assassination” of Ensign Jumonville and is allowed to march his force back to Virginia.

July 16, 1754: “From the London Gazette, New York, July 29.  On the 16th instant our lieutenant governor arrived here from Albany, having settled matters to the entire satisfaction of the different nations of the Indians that attended the congress at that place.  And the next day the commissioners from Philadelphia, Maryland, and Virginia, with several others, arrived here from the same place.  From whence we learn, that the said congress, the commissioners were unanimously of opinion, that an union of the colonies was absolutely necessary; and a plan of union was accordingly drawn up by the said commissioners, in order to be laid before their respective constituents.”

August 6, 1754: “Letters from rear-admiral Watson, dated St. Augustine’s Bay, Madagascar, (received by the Dragon East-Indiaman) bring an account, that they had a tolerable passage to that island; that the men were, under the line, attacked by the fever, and afterwards the scurvy; which, however, occasioned no considerable mortality; the admiral having built tents on shore, for the reception of the sick; they were also so well recovered, that he was to sail for the coast of Coromandel  on the morning after the date of his letters.  The Dragon brings this further account, that on the 4th of September, the Cumberland, commodore Pocock, and the Tyger, capt. Latham, came into St. Augustine’s Bay; the Cumberland had near 200 sick, and had buried 67; but the Tyger was very healthy.  She left the Cumberland and the Tyger there, who proposed to sail in about 10 days, as their men were on the mending hand.”

August 16, 1754: Battle of the French Rock. — Major Lawrence, with 1000 English in battalion: Topasses. 3000 sepoys, and 14 guns, 2500 Tanjore cavalry; 3000 infantry, having entered the plains to the south of Trichinopoly on 16th August, with the intention of reaching that place by the Sugar-loaf and French Rocks, the enemy marched out of Seringham to oppose them. The force of the French consisted of 900 European and 400 Topasses in battalion. 5000 disciplined and well-armed sepoys and 10.000 Mysore and Mahratta cavalry. The British formed in line, having their European, Topasses, sepoys, and guns in the first line, and the Tanjoreans on the flanks and rear to protect the convoy. The French advanced with much confidence, but were so warmly received that they retreated in much disorder. sustaining severe loss. Lawrence was prevented taking 1 of this defeat of the French, by a successful attack made by Hyder Naik on the baggage, carrying off 36 carts before his force could be dispersed. The enemy, profiting by the confusion thus occasioned, withdrew to Seringham. The troops under Lawrence sustained a loss of IS men killed, whilst the French battalion had 160 killed and severely wounded.

October 7, 1754: “From the London Gazette. War Office, Oct. 7. His majesty having been pleased to direct that the following officers appointed to the regiments of foot to be raised in America, under the respective commands of col. William Shirley, and Sir William Pepperell, Bart.  Do repair forthwith to their posts…Notice is given, that such officers who are in Great Britain, do immediately repair to London, and embark on board the transports provided for their passage to North America.  And that such of those officers who are in Ireland, do immediately repair to Cork, and embark on board the transports provided for the carrying Sir Peter Halkett’s and col. Dunbar’s regiments to North America.”

October 19, 1754: “Orders were given, about this time, for a captain, four lieutenants, and 60 bombardiers and matrosses, to hold themselves ready to embark from Woolwich, in order to join the forces destined for Virginia.”

November 14, 1754: “His Majesty first acquainted both Houses, “That it was with great pleasure he met them in Parliament, at a time, when the late elections had afforded his people an opportunity of giving fresh proofs of their duty and affection to his person and government, in the choice of their representatives.” That the general state of affairs in Europe had received very little alteration since their last meeting. But he had the satisfaction to acquaint them, that he had lately received the strongest assurances from his good brother the king of Spain, of his firm resolution to cultivate friendship and confidence with him, with reciprocal acts of harmony and good faith; and that he would persevere in these sentiments. That it should be his principal view, as well to strengthen the foundations, and secure the duration of the general peace, as to improve the present advantages of it, for promoting the trade of his good subjects, and protecting those possessions, which made one great source of our commerce and wealth.”

December 26, 1754: Peace with France in India is signed in Pondicherry

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