The Seven Years’ War was a global war that pitted the British and French empires against one another.

Fighting began in 1754, and ended in 1763 with a British victory that expelled the French from mainland North America. It was also the beginning of George Washington’s military career: he commanded troops and faced the reality of combat for the first time.

This digital exhibit, based on an exhibit which appeared in the Mount Vernon museum in 2023, highlights material from the Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection, detailing the war’s American theater from its inauspicious beginnings in the Ohio County in to the British victories at Louisbourg and Quebec in 1758 and 1759.

William Herbert/Society of Anti-Gallicans (1755), “A new and accurate map of the English empire in North America : representing their rightful claim as confirmed by charters, and the formal surrender of their Indian friends; likewise the encroachments of the French, with the several forts they have unjustly erected therein”

A Masterpiece of Anti-French Propaganda

Produced by the anti-French “society of Anti-Gallicans,” this map contrasts Britain’s “rightful claims” against French “encroachments.” The coloring underscores this framing: a vast swath of pastel land representing the “just” claims of the British surrounds pitiful patches of French white in Canada, Cape Breton, and forts in the Ohio country.

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Robert Orme, “A map of the country between Will's Creek & Monongahela River shewing the rout and encampments of the English army in 1755”

Record of a Disaster

British General Edward Braddock was charged with dislodging the French from North America. He led 2,000 men, including 23-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, to capture Fort Duquesne. The route passed Fort Necessity near Great Meadows (points 8 & 9), where, in 1754, Washington’s failed attempt to block French encroachment started the war.

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Robert Orme, “A plan of the field of battle and disposition of the troops, as they were on the march at the time of the attack on the 9th of July, 1755”

Washington's Brush with Death

The Battle of the Monongahela was Washington’s first major military engagement. Braddock split his army into a lightly-equipped detachment (A-H) followed by a slower, vulnerable convoy (I-T). They were surprised by a large French and Indigenous force (1). Over half of Braddock’s men were killed or wounded, including Braddock, who died shortly after.

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Pierre-Jérome Lartigue, “Carte topographique du port et de la ville de Louisbourg, assiegé par les Anglais pendant les mois de Juin, Juillet 1758

The Turning Point

Located in present-day Nova Scotia, Canada, the French stronghold of Louisbourg controlled access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Quebec. This manuscript map was made by a French resident of the city, and shows British ships, troop positions, camps and batteries during the successful British siege in 1758.

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Hervey Smyth, “A view of the landing place above the town of Quebec, describing the assault of the enemys post, on the banks of the River St. Lawrence, with a distant view of the action between the British & French armys, on the Hauteurs d'Abraham, Septr. 13th 1759”

A Decisive Victory

This engraving depicts the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the decisive victory over the French in North America. On the night of 12 Sept 1759, British soldiers secretly accessed the road leading to the heights outside Quebec City. They took the French by surprise, leading to their disastrous defeat.

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