John Forbes: Scotland, Flanders and the Seven Years' War, 1707-1759

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9781472511188: John Forbes: Scotland, Flanders and the Seven Years' War, 1707-1759

In November 1758 Brigadier General John Forbes's army expelled the French army from Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio River. Over seven months Forbes had co-ordinated three obstructive and competitive colonies, managed Indian diplomacy, and cut a road through over a hundred miles of mountain and forest.

This is the first full biography of Forbes, which traces his rise from surgeon in the Scots Greys to distinguished service in War of the Austrian Succession before his 1757 posting to North America. John Oliphant puts Forbes' life and career in the wider context of the social and military world of the 18th century and offers important insights into the Seven Years' War in North America.

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About the Author:

John Oliphant is an Associate Lecturer at the Open University, UK. He is author of Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier 1756-1763 (2001) and a contributor to The Seven Years' War: Global Views (2012).


“Fusing impeccable research with brisk narrative, John Oliphant provides the first full-length biography of a neglected, yet highly significant, figure in British-American history. While John Forbes is best known as the resolute commander who overcame daunting obstacles to capture Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War, as this compelling and ground-breaking study demonstrates, that triumph rested upon decades of hard-earned experience. In tracing Forbes's journey from penniless younger son of Scots gentry, through regimental surgeon to brigadier-general, Dr Oliphant not only offers a perceptive portrait of an innovative and enlightened soldier, but reveals the patronage networks and sometimes bizarre social rituals that characterized his professional world.” ―Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior

“Based on extensive research in archives on both sides of the Atlantic, Oliphant's authoritative study allows us to see General Forbes, a hugely important but enigmatic man, in a much broader context.” ―Matthew Ward, University of Dundee, UK

“Oliphant (Open Univ., UK) presents the first-ever full-length biographical study of an often overlooked British Army general, whose 1758 campaign against French Fort Duquesne played a pivotal role in transferring the trans-Appalachian region to the British Empire after 1763. Forbes traversed multiple locations in the 18th-century North Atlantic world, and Oliphant's scrupulous research and crisp writing offer clear insights into the variety of experiences, opportunities, and problems of British military officers entering this novel sphere of human interactions, violent or otherwise. Generously illustrated with seven maps, three figures, and four battle plans, the book situates Forbes's career in the broader context of the 18th-century British fiscal-military state and balances his achievements with the harrowing details of the physical ailments that bedeviled him throughout the latter years of his career. In contending that, in the aftermath of the French abandonment of Fort Duquesne, Forbes and Colonel Henry Bouquet dedicated themselves to honoring the terms of the settlement boundary negotiated at the Treaty of Easton in 1758, Oliphant sheds important new light on alternative possibilities that might have alleviated the subsequent outbreak of violence after these officers passed from the American scene. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” -J. W. Parmenter, Cornell University, USA, CHOICE

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