Besieged: British-American Forts, Families, and Communities in the Seven Years' War, 1755-1763
Hornor, Elizabeth Bartlett
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This dissertation examines interactions between civilians and the military during the Seven Years' War in the British North American colonies. The settings of those interactions were seven forts located along three corridors that encompassed British, French, and Native American territory. The corridors include the region between Philadelphia/Alexandria and the Ohio River, the territory between Albany and the Great Lakes, and the area between Albany and Quebec/Montreal. This project traverses the divide between histories of colonial society and histories of the war by using letters, personal journals, newspapers, memoirs, wills, and colonial and military records to explore backcountry communities and their interactions with the military at and near forts. Rather than interpreting interactions between the army and civilians simply as conflicts, the project argues that forts became sites of negotiation as civilians and military authorities made requests of one another. By examining the varying ways in which people responded to the war, the dissertation illuminates how the experience of living on the periphery influenced residents' perceptions of the army and imperial administration. In exploring the civilian experience of the war on the periphery, the project connects the events of the Seven Years' War to existing problems and circumstances, thereby integrating the war more seamlessly into the history of colonial America and facilitating a more nuanced understanding of how the war affected its civilian participants.