The first global war
Readying for an attack by French and Indian forces, British re-enactors prepare a three pound cannon while Scottish re-enactors position themselves behind a barricade at the French & Indian War Encampment at Cook Forest State Park.
A long time ago on a continent far, far away, and on the North American continent, the first global war took place.
The remainder of the world calls it the Seven Years War. In America, it is called the French & Indian War.
The war, which lasted seven years from 1756 to 1763, involved Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, and Russia, Portugal, Spain, Sardinia, the Dutch Republic, the Iroquois Confederacy, and the Lenni Lenape, and spanned Europe, India, Africa, South America, Canada and what would become the United States.
In fact, were it not for the French & Indian War, the British colonies might never have successfully revolted against Great Britain.
During the June 12 and 13 weekend, Cook Forest State Park, in Cooksburg, Pa. hosted a living history encampment depicting life during the French & Indian War period. Scores of re-enactors pitched camp and recreated all aspects of life in 1750 Pennsylvania.
The period specialties and crafts presented and demonstrated included those of the: surgeon, clothing maker, flintknapper, blacksmith, potter, woodworking, sheep shearer, provisioner, ticker, trapper, butcher, cook, priest, and a variety of military specialties.
The French & Indian War helped to create the American Revolution in several ways. Here's three: it was a training ground where George Washington learned to command, the war was so expensive for the British Government that they issued a series of taxes to help recover their expenses, and when the fledgling rebellious colonists needed help, Britain's adversary, France, became America's friend.
As the encampment focused military aspects of the French & Indian War, most of the re-enactors were dressed as British soldiers, French soldiers, Indians, or Rangers.
A group of re-enactors represented Spikeman's Ranger Company. Captain Thomas Spikeman headed a team within Rogers' Rangers. During the French & Indian War, the Rangers led by Robert Rogers reconnoiter the forts around Lake George and Lake Champlain in New York.
The British built Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point to halt the French expansion southward from Canada. It soon became clear that a type of soldier was needed to range between the forts.
"The Ranger movement began in England by the border between Scotland and England," said Ranger historian Matt Wulff of Custer, Ohio. "To stop the Scottish from stealing their cattle, the English hired a border patrol, called 'Borderists.'
"When the English colonists came to North America, and had a raids from the Native Americans, they reinvented the Borderists as Rangers. These were frontiersmen, hunters and trappers who could subsist off the land and did not need to be tied to a supply train or main army. They were paid by the provincial governments of the colonies, townships or the settlements."
Colonel Benjamin Church led the first Ranger unit, Church's Rangers, during King Philip's War (1675-1678) supporting the Plymouth Colony against the Native American tribes led by King Philip.
Acting independently of the local militias, Church's Rangers were the first to recruit captured Indians, and were the first forces to successfully attack Indian encampments.
In a re-creation of a French & Indian War battle, two sets of forces positioned themselves in the woods. The red-coated British and kilted Scottish lay behind a timber barricade, armed with muskets and a three pound cannon, alongside a Company Spikeman's Rangers-armed with lightweight Brown Bess smooth bore muskets and hatchets.
Attacking from the woods, moving from tree to tree were blue-coated French troops and their Native American allies-dressed in browns that blended into the forest color scheme.
After each side took severe casualties, a British officer raised a white flag and arranged to negotiate with the French. During the negotiation, the Rangers slipped away and the Indian allies killed the British officer.