The first real world war - French and Indian War
"On May 28, 1754, a detachment of Virginia militia commanded by Washington ambushed a party of French soldiers in southwestern Pennsylvania, a territory claimed by both France and England. Today, Americans know the ensuing conflict as the French and Indian War, but the clash between empires soon drew into its vortex all major European powers in what is known more widely as the Seven Years’ War, with armies and navies fighting in North America, the West Indies [including Cuba], Europe, India, and Africa [and the Phillipines]. Before the peace finally was achieved in 1763, a million men had lost their lives in what Winston Churchill famously called the first “world war.” " -
English Canadians typically refer to the war as the Seven Years War, while French Canadians call it the Guerre de la conquete (War of the Conquest).
George Macartney wrote in 1773, in the wake of the territorial expansion that followed Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War, of "this vast empire on which the sun never sets, and whose bounds nature has not yet ascertained.". Macartney, George (1773). An Account of Ireland in 1773 by a Late Chief Secretary of that Kingdom. p. 55.; cited in Kenny, Kevin (2006). Ireland and the British Empire. Oxford University Press. p. 72,fn.22. ISBN 0-19-925184-3.
Click on map below. This takes you to Google books. Search for maps in the Crucible of War where all the battles across the globe are indicated.
What's in a Name?
Once it ended, the contemporaries called it simply
“the late war.” Generations since have known it variously as
1. The French and Indian War (United States),
2. The War of Conquest (Francophone Canada),
3. TheThird Silesian War (Germany),
4. The Third Carnatic War (India).
5. The Seven Years War
Historians, searching for a name that would encompass the war in its entirety, settled on the Seven Years’War (even though it spanned a longer period).
The Heights of Quebec (leading to the Plains of Abraham above) is a reference the movie makes to this battle. This battle ended in both opposing Generals dying. Memorialized by a famous Benjamin West painting of General Wolfe dying that captured the epic quality of this world war.
This war stayed alive in the memory of its contemparies long through the Revolutionary War and the memories of great battles were taught until this modern age.
"You Sound like General Wolfe before the Heights of Quebec."
Here is a 1939 movie, It's A Wonderful World, (not to be confused with It's A Wonderful Life) where the memory of a famous battle in the French and Indian War was popular enough in the American culture that Claudette Colbert could say such a thing to Jimmy Stewart and the audience would know what the reference meant.