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Author gives space to 'ignored' battle

March 01, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

Author gives space to 'ignored' battle

In an area where the Civil War often dominates the popular historical culture, the French and Indian War gets far less attention.

That's not fair, said Allan Powell, a Hagerstown historian and retired college professor who has made promoting the study of the French and Indian War one of his favorite endeavors.

"Here is one of the greatest events in this area's history and yet it's largely ignored," Powell said.

That's one of the reasons Powell wrote "Maryland and the French and Indian War," a 268-page coffee-table book that depicts in words, drawings, maps and photographs the colony's involvement in a sometimes-forgotten chapter in history.

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The book about what some have called "the real first world war" was written in anticipation of two events that will take place in the next century - the 250th anniversary of British Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock's expedition through Maryland in 2005, and the 250th birthday of Fort Frederick, near Big Pool, in 2006.

"I wrote this to start the buildup of interest in the French and Indian War," Powell said.

The war, which lasted from 1754 to 1763, was the last conflict between the French and British over possessions in North America and featured famous battles in Pennsylvania, New York and Canada.

Powell's book tells of Braddock's journey, another trip through part of Maryland by British Gen. John Forbes, the colony's defense of the French and Indian threat, and the role of native Americans in the conflict.

Powell acknowledges Maryland's role in the war could have been much greater.

The colony approved just two appropriations to assist the war effort and did so grudgingly.

"Maryland just dragged its feet through this war. It's just appalling how badly this colony behaved," Powell said.

Powell's book also describes the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the war and gave England an empire that spanned from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.

But in the aftermath, there was a steady deterioration of relations between England and its American colonies.

"What I'm trying to show here is the main cause of the American Revolution was the French and Indian War," he said.

Powell hopes the book will encourage others to remember an important part of the nation's history.

"This is going to help stimulate interest," he said.

The book sells for $29.95 and can be purchased at The Book Store Etc. at 27 W. Washington St.

Powell said he also is working to have the book sold in other area stores.

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