RJO’s Ancestors in American Colonial Wars, 1637–1763
On the obscure strife where men died by tens or by scores hung questions of as deep import for posterity as on those mighty contests of national adolescence where carnage is reckoned by thousands.
This is one of a series of genealogical pages on my ancestors who served in early American wars, including the Pequot War (1637–1638), King Philip’s War (1675–1676), King William’s War (1689–1698), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), Dummer’s War (1723–1726) and King George’s War (1744–1745), the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the American Revolution (1775–1781), and Shays’ Rebellion (1786–1787). Ancestors who belonged to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (1637– ) are also noted, and an additonal page presents a special essay on Lexington and Concord and the Nineteenth of April.
The French and Indian War (1754–1763)
What is commonly called the French and Indian War was the last and largest of a series of French and Indian wars that pitted Catholic France and her Indian allies against Protestant Great Britain and her American colonies. Known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War, this last French and Indian War was a training ground for many of the soldiers who would later rise to prominence in the American Revolution. Hostilities began in America when an Anglo-American party under the command of George Washington encountered and defeated a French and Indian scouting party near what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The usual pattern of cross-border skirmishes and invasions began, but this time the victories went more often to the Anglo-American forces. The fortress at Louisbourg, captured by the English in King George’s War but returned to the French, was recaptured and razed by Lord Jeffrey Amherst. Fort Ticonderoga was abandoned and blown up by the retreating French in 1759, and Quebec fell later the same year. In the end the Anglo-American forces triumphed, and the war concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, under the terms of which France ceded all of Canada to the English and Spain ceded Florida [Peckham]. The heavy taxes Britain levied to pay for the war alienated many of the American colonists, and set the stage for the American Revolution twelve years later. Fred Anderson’s A People’s Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War is an excellent account of the lives of colonial soldiers during the French and Indian War.
JOB SHATTUCK (11 Feb 1735/6–13 Jan 1819) — 5G Grandfather
Job Shattuck of Groton served as a private in Captain Ephraim Jones’ company to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, 28 May 1755 [Green 174–176]. “His first enlistment was at the age of nineteen, in a company of Col. Monkton’s troops, sent to drive the French from their encroachments on the English settlements in Nova Scotia. It is said, that being small of his age, he used a strategem to appear tall, that he might pass muster. There is no evidence that he performed any service in the French war, other than in this campaign, which was short, but successful” [Butler 300–301]. The Annapolis Royal campaign was in fact a shameful episode of “ethnic cleansing” during which Acadian Catholic civilians were herded onto ships without warning and dispersed through the English colonies. Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline” (1847) is a fictionalized account based on this tragedy.
ZACHARIAH FITCH (1 Apr 1734–2 Sep 1820) — 3G Grandfather
Zechariah Fitch of Groton “served in the French and Indian Wars” [Fitch].
- Anderson, Fred. 1984. A People’s Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.
- Butler, Caleb. 1848. History of the Town of Groton, Including Pepperell and Shirley, from the First Grant of Groton Plantation in 1655. Boston: T.R. Marvin.
- Stearns, Ezra S. 1901–1902. The descendants of Dea. Zachary Fitch of Reading. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 55: 288–294, 400–407; 56: 41–47.
- Green, Samuel Abbott. 1883. Groton During the Indian Wars. Groton, Massachusetts: Published by the Author.
- Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Evangeline.
- Peckham, Howard H. 1964. The Colonial Wars: 1689–1762. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
© RJO 1995–2016