Monday, April 18, 2016

Seven Years War (French and Indian War)

Tonight - I was watching WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ........

Let's face it, it has and always will be one of my favorite shows, it continues to make me WANT to find OUR stories.....

I am by no means a professional .... but I like to play one on TV...  just kidding...

Anyway, tonight's episode was the one with Katey Sagal ... (Married With Children among many other things) ....

She had some VERY heart tugging stories in her episode.  I thought the meet up with the elderly woman who used to travel with her mother was especially touching.   Though, I have to say - the whole story with the Seven Years War really caught my interest....

You see, Katey's great whatever grandfather was Jacob Hochstetler, a very well known Amish early settler ...  His family had a particular rough time during this war, as I am sure many many more did also...

Hochstetler massacre
The Northkill settlement was on the edge of the Blue Mountain, the legal boundary of European settlement according to agreements with Native Americans. During the French and Indian War, local tribes under the command of three French scouts attacked the Northkill settlement on September 19, 1757. The Indians attacked the Jacob Hochstetler homestead and set the house afire. The Indians stood guard around the house and torched the Hochstetler home, so the family could not escape without risking their lives. As the fire worsened, the family escaped out the cellar window, but the wounded Jacob Jr. (he had been shot during the initial attack) and Jacob Sr.'s wife, Anna (Lorentz) Hochstetler, slowed them down. She became stuck in the window during her escape, and was later stabbed in the back and scalped. Another daughter (name unknown) and Jacob Jr. were killed. Jacob Sr. and Joseph and Christian (ages app. 12–15 years) were taken captive. Jacob escaped after about 8 months, but the boys were held for several years, released after a peace treaty between the natives and the British Army was agreed upon. Altogether over 200 white people were killed in Berks County during various raids. The number of Indians killed during this time is not known.

During the episode, you first hear about Jacob from a newspaper blurb, of how the "enemy" (being Indians) burnt his house, killed his wife and a "young man" and how Jacob and his children were missing.

You learn a little more from a documented interview from the British troops who had found him.  He's called "John" in the document (anglicized version of Jacob) ... and the document is dated 5th May 1758 (the attack happened Sept. 19th 1757 - so he had been missing for a little more than seven months.

You learn he was taken by several Indians about 300 miles to their Indian castle (villiage with a stockade) and kept prisoner.  He doesn't mention his children, because he was most likely separated shortly after being taken captive.  He managed to established a trust with the Indians, they had given him a gun to go hunting.  It was upon being trusted and left alone to hunt that he escaped, he made himself a float (raft) and floated down river until he managed upon a British camp.

We learn that the Indians took over 1,600 white prisoners of war, but they were not required to turn their captives over to their allies (the French).  You learn that the captives were usually given over to an Indian family that had recently lost a family member. The Indian family then had the choice of killing the captive for retribution or adopting them as one of their own.  Young captives were prime targets for adoption because they were easily adapted to the Indian culture. So children, in that time, were very valuable.

She then travels to Burks County Pennsylvania to see if there is any oral history on what may have happened to Jacob's children, because the "paper" trail didn't reveal that.  She ends up meeting with - funny enough - a man who shares the last name of people in her tree and ends up being her 7th Cousin.  She seems very smitten, saying she doesn't have a lot of family, so the connection definitely resonates with her.

We end up learning a little more about the attack on Jacob's family.  (some of the following I wrote up from the portion they were reading from - but not all of it was read on the show)

"The Massacre it's called.  On the evening of September 18, 1757, just about the time they were sound asleep, the dog made an unusual noise. Which awakened Jacob the son who opened the door to see what was wrong.  When he received a gun shot wound to the leg.  He realized in a moment that they were being attacked by Indians and managed to close and lock the door before the Indians could enter. Joseph and Christian picked up their guns to defend the family but their father, firmly believing in the doctrine of Non-resistance, remaining faithful in the hour of sourest trial, could not give his consent.  In vain they begged him.  He told them it was not right to take the life of another even to save one's own."

"The Indians stood in consultation for a few minutes and then set the house on fire.  The family consisted of seven persons. The parents, Jacob Jr, Joseph, Christian and a daughter, name not known, also Barbra (something I can't make out) probably not at home.  As the fire progressed, they sought refuge in the cellar, while the Indians stood guard around the house.  When the fire had advanced so far as to burst through the floor, its advance was checked by spilling cider on the burning spots. 

As daylight was now nearing it was thought the enemy would not remain much longer and the family hoped to hold out until they departed.  Meanwhile the disturbance attracted the attention of John, living on the adjoining farm.  A few steps from his door he could see over to the old home, which seeing on fire, surrounded by the savages and all the family within, presented a shocking sight. The safety of wife and child appealed to him."  The neighbor hid his wife and child in some bush, and then rode south of his house on horse (I assume for help)  

She continues, "And by the time the family were all out, they were surrounded. The son Jacob and the daughter were tomahawked and scalped.  But the mother, against whom they seemed to have a particular spite was stabbed to the heart with a butcher knife and was scalped."

It is a heartbreaking account, but the impact of it is brutal.  The fact that the children, the family - had to witness the brutality.  That Father had to witness not only his wife's murder, but the murder of two of his children!  The mother probably saw the attack on her two children before suffering her own fate.

I know I would kill anyone who tried to hurt my children.  I understand the thought and belief that no one should take a life, no matter what - and it's a beautiful thought, but to sit back when there are people killing your family and at least not trying to fight back - it's heartbreaking.

They go on and find out that Joseph was adopted into a family in full fellowship.  In other words, was made "after their manner a full Indian." 

Christian was adopted by an "aged Indian who treated him as a son."  Christian was sent out hunting for game for the older Indian and himself.  Although these trips provided him with means of escape, Christian continued to hunt to feed the man who had taken him in because if he didn't, no one else would have, and his friend would parish.

It's mentioned that many of the white settlers who were taken captive and given to families often had deep and loving connections with the families they were given to.

Jacob escaped, however the boys stayed for a very long time.  Beyond the end of the war (in 1763) in the fall of 1764 there was a treaty with the Indians to release all British captives.  Around 200 were released and it's believed that Joseph and Christian were in that group.

Katey at this point asks "and they wanted to be released?"

And her cousin said that they (the British captives) didn't have a choice, they HAD to go back.  

She goes on to read, "One account of (Christian's) return, he walked to his father's hours and as he stepped into the kitchen, he found the family at dinner.  He bade the time of day, and returned to the yard, and seated himself on a stump. After his father finished his meal he went to the man in the yard who he supposed was an Indian and began a conversation with him. In broken German of which he could scarcely recall he said "My name is Christian Hochstetler."  We can easily imagine the joy and surprise of the father, who never-the-less found it not easy to get his son into the house for dinner. For some time he would not decide to forsake his Indian friends and make his home with the whites. The childhood home that he had cherished in his memory during the years of his captivity was no longer to be found."

Her cousin says, many of the white captives were reluctant to come home that many of them went back.  Some of them had to be handcuffed to keep them with their white families.

Imagine you are a parent, and your child is returned to you after years of separation, but all they want to do is return to their Indian family.  What do you say?  How do you feel?

It's crazy, but very understandable ...

The Amish today value the stories of the people who took the chosen path of being non-violent in a very difficult situation.   In the case of Jacob Hochstetler homestead today as a place of pilgrimage. The original dwellings don't stand, but they made a sort of memorial with a plaque.

So what about some information on the war ....  History(dot)com <- source...

New World conflict marked another chapter in the long imperial struggle between Britain and France. When France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley brought repeated conflict with the claims of the British colonies, a series of battles led to the official British declaration of war in 1756. Boosted by the financing of future Prime Minister William Pitt, the British turned the tide with victories at Louisbourg, Fort Frontenac and the French-Canadian stronghold of Quebec. At the 1763 peace conference, the British received the territories of Canada from France and Florida from Spain, opening the Mississippi Valley to westward expansion.

The Seven Years’ War (called the French and Indian War in the colonies) lasted from 1756 to 1763, forming a chapter in the imperial struggle between Britain and France called the Second Hundred Years’ War. In the early 1750s, France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley repeatedly brought it into conflict with the claims of the British colonies, especially Virginia. During 1754 and 1755, the French defeated in quick succession the young George Washington, Gen. Edward Braddock, and Braddock’s successor, Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts. In 1755, Governor Shirley, fearing that the French settlers in Nova Scotia (Acadia) would side with France in any military confrontation, expelled hundreds of them to other British colonies; many of the exiles suffered cruelly. Throughout this period, the British military effort was hampered by lack of interest at home, rivalries among the American colonies, and France’s greater success in winning the support of the Indians. In 1756 the British formally declared war (marking the official beginning of the Seven Years’ War), but their new commander in America, Lord Loudoun, faced the same problems as his predecessors and met with little success against the French and their Indian allies.
The tide turned in 1757 because William Pitt, the new British leader, saw the colonial conflicts as the key to building a vast British empire. Borrowing heavily to finance the war, he paid Prussia to fight in Europe and reimbursed the colonies for raising troops in North America. In July 1758, the British won their first great victory at Louisbourg, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. A month later, they took Fort Frontenac at the western end of the river. Then they closed in on Quebec, where Gen. James Wolfe won a spectacular victory on the Plains of Abraham, September 1759 (though both he and the French commander, the Marquis de Montcalm, were fatally wounded). With the fall of Montreal in September 1760, the French lost their last foothold in Canada. Soon, Spain joined France against England, and for the rest of the war Britain concentrated on seizing French and Spanish territories in other parts of the world.
At the peace conference in 1763, the British received Canada from France andFlorida from Spain, but permitted France to keep its West Indian sugar islands and gave Louisiana to Spain. The treaty strengthened the American colonies significantly by removing their European rivals to the north and south and opening the Mississippi Valley to westward expansion.
It's kinda weird ...  it's like reading a "clinical version" but it's so much more interesting when there is a personal aspect, something you can connect to, get invested in.  

HERE is another article on it....

The Seven Years War
The Seven Years War was a conflict between the major European powers with France, Austria, and Russia on one side and Great Britian and Prussia on the other.

The war coincided with the French / British colonial struggle in North America and India. As a result of the conflict Great Britain became the leader in overseas colonization and Prussia emerged as a powerful force in Europe.

Prussia began its rise to power during the Thirty Years War. Prussia became a kingdom in 1701. The Prussian king still owed allegiance to the Holy Roman emperor in Vienna, but rivalry between the two rulers was growing increasingly bitter.

Frederick the Great began his reign at the same time as the empress Maria Theresa became the monarch of Austria. When Frederick seized the province of Silesia from Austria Maria Theresa organized an alliance of France, Sweden, Russia, Saxony, Austria, and other countries. Frederick, who felt isolated, concluded a treaty with Great Britain.

Frederick struck first overrunning Saxony. Facing an opposition 20 times superior in population numbers, Prussia struggled for existence. Frederick utilized the advantage of his interior lines of communication to strike a number of decisive victories, but in 1759 the united Austrian and Russian forces nearly destroyed the Prussian army at the battle of Kunersdorf.

Frederick's salvation came with the death of the tsarina Elizabeth in 1762 which meant that Russia withdrew from the war. France and Sweden were exhausted and Austria deeply in debt. Austria had to negotiate a peace, Frederick kept Silesia, and Great Britain won North America and India.

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