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'Clash of empires' started at Jumonville Glen

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 5:31 p.m.

To many historians, the shot heard around the world did not happen at Lexington and Concord, Mass.

It happened at Jumonville Glen, signaling the start of the French and Indian War. Fort Necessity National Battlefield recently hosted a re-enactment of this event.

The event was commemoration of the Jumonville affair of May 28, 1754, said Thomas Markwardt, a park ranger at Fort Necessity. "This skirmish was the first action in George Washington's military career," he said.

The skirmish -- in which 10 French soldiers were killed, 1 wounded and 21 captured -- led directly to the French campaign to Fort Necessity.

Markwardt called the battle a defining event in American history.

"The Battle of Fort Necessity is generally considered the opening of the French and Indian War, although the formal declaration of war did not come until later," Markwardt said. "This war spread into a global conflict between Great Britain and France. At the end of the war, France ceded its possession in North America to Great Britain, creating a vast British empire, eliminating one major threat to the safety and security of American colonists and opening the door to the West."

The Jumonville Glen Unit of Fort Necessity National Battlefield is named for the French commanding officer who died there May 28, 1754.

It is seven miles west of Fort Necessity National Battlefield on Jumonville Road.

Young Washington arrived at the secluded glen at sunrise. The French troops, who were just waking, put up 15 minutes of resistance. The war sparked by the skirmish spread to four continents.

Brian Reedy, park ranger, said Washington learned valuable lessons during the skirmish.

"He learned to rely on other people," Reedy said. "Most of all, this skirmish boosted Washington's confidence that he could lead other men in battle."

He pointed out that this "clash of the empires" was inevitable.

"North America was a tinder box; France and England were vying for power. This skirmish killed the hope that the English, the French and the Native Americans could peacefully co-exist."

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