February 10, 2005

More French And Indian War Blogging

I am still heavily engrossed in Francis Parkman's history of the French and Indian War. Over the past day or two, I read with near rage the unwillingness of the Pennsylvania Colony, largely through the pacifist influence of its Quaker population and ongoing feuds in the Legislature over who should be taxed for it, to even attempt to defend itself against Indian attacks unleashed by the French, attacks which pushed so far east as to cross the Susquehanna.

To the south, Virginia did make some attempt to stem the flow in 1756 by erecting a series of frontier forts and blockhouses and staging a regiment of colonial troops under George Washington to hold the frontier. But the forts were 20 miles apart and Washington had a front of better than 350 miles to cover with only a small number of men. Suffice to say that the defense didn't work very well.

I still marvel at the people who chose to live in this region and attempt to carve out an existence. And Parkman's description of their conditions is down right bone-chilling. The History Channel likes to call itself "the place where history comes alive". This is, to be plain, a bunch of crap. As Steve recently (and excellently) noted regarding the movie Gettysburg, the History Channel is the place where a bunch of tubby middle-aged men get together to play dress-up.

History really comes alive when, after reading eyewitness accounts of frontier massacres, one looks up at one's own daughters and has a nightmare vision of them being scalped alive, the elder two probably being raped first. My parents always used to say, "Just wait - some day you'll have children of your own and then you'll understand!" I always knew that was true, but I never suspected it would manifest itself quite this way.

Posted by Robert at February 10, 2005 02:45 PM
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