We’ve already taken a run through the locations that we know are in the game. Obvious places like Boston and New York should certainly make for an interesting environment to run, climb and stab your way around but they are by no means the only locations that are relevant to the setting of Assassin’s Creed III.
There were a multitude of regions, towns and cities that all played a part in the events that lead to American Independence. In this feature, we’ll take a look at those places which probably aren’t significant enough to host sections of gameplay but might feature in cutscenes or conversations because of their importance to the events during those 30 years between 1753 and 1783.
When Lieutenant Colonel George Washington was sent by the Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, to request that French troops remove themselves from Fort Le Boeuf, the wheels were set in motion for the start of the French and Indian War. That encounter isn’t very exciting for a videogame, Washington simply had dinner with the garrison commander, Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, handed him a letter requesting their departure and listened to the civil but contemptuous refusal.
Washington reported back to Dinwiddie that the French had “swept south” and were fortifying all through the region. He was despatched to the fork of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers with the mission of forging a road and protecting the fort being built there by a small company of British soldiers.
While travelling, Washington heard that a large French force had evicted the British company who were attempting to build and were constructing their own, large fort, which they named Fort Duquesne after the governor-general of New France (an area stretching from modern day Canada to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico).
Washington decided to press on and before he got to the fort, learned the location of a French scouting party. He brought his troops around and attacked the scouting party, firing the first shots of the seven-year-long war which would set in motion the chain of events leading right through to the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and the birth of a nation.
This was the valley through which the huge Ohio River carved its path on the way to feeding the even greater Mississippi River.
It’s impossible to overstate just how important the Mississippi was to North America at that time. With the almost impassable wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains making trade routes prohibitively dangerous and expensive, the great river served as an arterial route down which to send furs and timber for exportation to Europe. It was significantly less expensive to send timber by river down the western side of the Appalachians to New Orleans than it was to take it through the mountain passes to ports which were hundreds of miles closer to the source of the timber.
The Ohio River gave the British colonies a way to access this important trade route so it was valuable land and settlement was very much encouraged by companies who wished to profit from trade in the area (like the Ohio Company, of which Virginian Governor Dinwiddie was, probably not coincidentally, a member).
The French were not at all pleased at the prospect of the British encroaching on their lucrative trade line down the length of North America and decided that there was a need to protect the approaches militarily by building forts along the Ohio Valley. The British pushed back and war was fought, primarily in the Valley itself but extending south as far as Louisiana and North to Montreal.
Eventually this war led to the French ceding New France to Britain, with the exception of Louisiana, which was taken over by France’s Spanish allies who, in turn, ceded Florida to Britain.
North Carolina’s population was comprised of mostly Scottish, Scots-Irish (now Northern Ireland), Welsh, German and English immigrants. During the Revolutionary War, many of the residents remained pro-British and fought on that side against neighbours who were pro-Independence.
North Carolina’s wealth at the time was earned largely off the back of African slaves who had been brought to the colony after the economy in Great Britain improved and the steady influx of indentured servants from those countries slowed.
It was the first colony to instruct its delegates to vote for Independence from the British Crown during the Second Continental Congress in 1776. The other colonies all followed and the Declaration of Independence was written up and signed.
While it might be a bit of a stretch to hope for a visit to this region, there were some fairly famous battles here during the Revolutionary War so we are likely, at least, to hear about events around Kings Mountain. This was the site of a famous victory for the Continental Army over the Redcoats.
Today, Virginia is a relatively small state nestled between Maryland and North Carolina. During the time spanned by Assassin’s Creed III, Virginia was not yet a state, it was a colony or province and it was much, much larger.
The Colony of Virginia stretched from its present position north of North Carolina westwards through what is now West Virginia and Kentucky and northwards as far as Minnesota, encompassing the southern and eastern sides of the Great Lakes region and all the land which now makes up states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
Virginia was the largest, oldest colony. It gave George Washington his first military command and instigated the French and Indian War. During the lead up to the Declaration of Independence, Virginia’s elected representatives, the House of Burgesses, formally protested many of the taxes. They championed the idea that only the governor could impose taxes on a colony and fought for colonists to have rights equal to those of any other British citizen.
Many of the events of Assassin’s Creed III will probably take place within the Colony of Virginia simply by virtue of its size and the importance of events which took place there. It will hopefully feature in the narrative drive of the game too, with so many politically important events taking place among the colony’s governing structures.
Lexington and Concord.
In 1775, a secret order was passed to Lieutenant Colonel James Smith. He was to take 700 men to capture and destroy hidden caches of weapons kept by the local militia in Concord, Massachusetts. But the militia had an effective intelligence network which reportedly allowed them to not only know of the raids weeks in advance but also to know the movements of Smith’s troops the night before the battles took place. This allowed them to rapidly notify militia units and inform counter-movements.
If there’s one thing that the Assassins are good at, it’s constructing and exploiting an effective intelligence network. It seems that this real historical situation and the fiction of the Assassins were made for each other.
On April 19th 1775, Smith’s forces encountered a small band of militiamen at Lexington. The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired, with the militia falling back in defeat. The Redcoats continued in their mission and searched Concord for weapons before encountering a much larger militia force of around 500 men. The King’s troops fell back in defeat and were pursued by a growing force of militiamen who harried them until they were reinforced, back in Lexington, by Brigadier General Hugh Percy.
The combined British force tactically retreated to Charlestown but were blockaded by the revolutionaries, beginning the Siege of Boston which ended almost a year later with British withdrawal.
It might be a pivotal event but it was just a brief moment so it’s unlikely that we’ll get to play in the battlefields of Lexington and Concord but if we will certainly hear the names in cutscenes and see them in supporting in-game texts. A besieged Boston also sounds like a tempting setting for our Assassin protagonist to operate in.
More in this series:
- For the first, on the subject of nationality at the time, click here.
- For the second, on in-game locations, click here.
- For the fourth, a timeline of some key events, click here.
- For the fifth, on secret societies we may hear from, click here.