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Edward Braddock -- Major General -- French and Indian War -- Braddock's Defeat -- A Stan Klos Company

Edward Braddock
British Major General

Photos of the Edward Braddock Landmark and Fort Necessity outside plaque by: Christopher, Fort Couch Middle School, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

General Edward Braddock's original burial site

General Edward Braddock's death scene

While on an expedition in 1755 to capture Fort Duquesne, General Braddock and his 2400 British regulars were surprised by a force of 900 French and Native Americans at the Monongahela River. Most of his troops panicked and over 1200 men were killed or seriously wounded. Braddock, himself, was mortally shot through the arm and into his chest. He died during the British retreat to Virginia. General Braddock was buried in the middle of the road near Fort Necessity to avoid his body's detection by the Indians.

 

Click Here for the Actual 1755 London Account Of Braddock's Defeat Courtesy of Estoric.com

BRADDOCK, Edward, British soldier, born in Perthshire, Scotland, about 1695; died near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 13 July, 1755. He had attained the grade of major general after more than forty years' service in the British guards, when on the eve of the French war he was sent here as generalissimo of all the British forces in the colonies. He landed, 20 February, 1755, at Hampton, Virginia, and debarked his troops at Alexandria, to which point the Virginia levies had also been directed. The house that was his headquarters in Alexandria, shown in the engraving, is still standing.

The general was a good tactician, but a very martinet, proud, prejudiced, and conceited. Horace Walpole describes him as "a very Iroquois in disposition," and tells an anecdote that sheds light on his character.

"He once had a duel with Col. Glumley, who had been his great friend. As they were going to engage, Glumley, who had good humor and wit (Braddock had the latter), said: ' Braddock, you are a poor dog! here, take my purse; if you kill me, you will be forced to run away, and then you will not have a shilling to support you.' Braddock refused the purse, insisted on the duel, was disarmed, and would not even ask for his life."

When Braddock heard that not more than twenty-five wagons could be procured for the use of the army, he declared that the expedition should not start. Washington was made his aide-de-camp. At Frederick-town, Benjamin Franklin, then postmaster-general, with his usual sagacity and energy, undertook to provide the necessary conveyances, and records the conversation with Braddock in which he unfolded his intentions.

"After taking Fort Duquesne," said the general, "I am to proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac if the season will allow time, and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or four days; and then I can see nothing that can obstruct my march to Niagara."

Franklin thought the plan excellent, provided he could take his fine troops safely to Fort Duquesne, but apprehended danger from the ambuscades of the Indians, who might destroy his army in detail. The intimation struck Braddock as absurd, and he said: "These savages may indeed be a formidable enemy to raw American military, but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make an impression."

Similar warnings by Washington met with similar replies. The expedition made slow progress, but at last drew near the fort, and crossed the Monongahela in regular order ; the drums were beating, the fifes playing, the colors flying, and their bayonets glittered in the sun. Suddenly, as the van was ascending a slope with underbrush and ravines on both sides, it was exposed to a murderous fire from an invisible foe. Braddock ordered the main body to halt, the firing continued, and the British for the first time heard the terrible war-whoop. The effect of the Indian rifles, directed by the French, was deadly; most of the grenadiers and many of the pioneers were shot down, and those who escaped the bullets were compelled to fall back. The British were ordered to form in line, but the men were so frightened by the demoniac yells of the hidden savages that they refused to follow their officers in small divisions.

The Virginians, familiar with Indian warfare, separated, and from behind sheltering rocks or trees picked off the enemy. Washington suggested to the general to pursue the same course with the regulars; but he scorned the advice, and is reported to have said that a British general might dispense with the military instruction of a Virginia colonel. He insisted that his men should be formed in regular platoons; they fired by platoons at random at the rocks, into the ravines and the bushes, and killed a number of Americans -- as many as fifty by one volley -- while they themselves fell with alarming rapidity.

The officers behaved splendidly, and Braddock's personal bravery was conspicuous; five horses had been killed under him, when at last a bullet passed through his right arm and lodged in his lungs. He fell from his horse, and was with difficulty removed from the ground. The defeat was total, and the rout complete.

Washington's escape was almost miraculous; sixty-four out of eighty-five officers were killed or wounded. There is little doubt that, but for the obstinacy and self-sufficiency of Braddock, the disaster might have been averted; for the crushing and sanguinary defeat of 9 July was inflicted by a handful of men, who intended only to molest his advance.

Washington covered the retreat, and the remnant of the army went into camp at the Great Meadows four days later. Braddock said nothing, but exclaimed in the evening after the engagement, "Who would have thought it?" Then he relapsed into silence, unbroken until a few minutes before his death at the Great Meadows on the evening of 13 July, when he said: "We shall better know how to deal with them another time."

He was buried before break of day, Washington reading the burial service, for the chaplain had been wounded. His grave (though now well known, and pointed out seven miles east of Uniontown) was at the time leveled with the ground to prevent Indian outrage. See "The History of an Expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1755, under Major-General Edward Braddock. Edited from the Original Manuscripts by Winthrop Sargent, 31. A." (Philadelphia, 1855).


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