It was downhill from the Gap to join the Little Cacapon River about six miles upstream of its junction with the Potomac where Friend Cox lived. When the army got to Cox’s at the mouth of the Little Cacapon (called Ferry Field), the advance party and the sailors had built small flats or boats to ferry the army across to the Maryland side. From this point the army marched on the Maryland shore to Thomas Cresap’s at present Oldtown and then on to Will’s Creek and Fort Cumberland where the Ohio Company had built a storehouse a few years before.
Excerpt from the Fry and Jefferson Map of 1754 showing roads
leading west from Winchester to Fort Cumberland. #1-Pott's;
#2-Bloomery Gap; #3-Enoch's at Forks of Capon;
#4-Spring Gap Mountain; #5-Cox's or Ferry Field;
Braddock’s army stayed at Fort Cumberland for several weeks waiting for supplies and taking time to train the new recruits before the march to Fort Duquesne would begin. It was at Fort Cumberland that Braddock had his first encounter with a large group of Indians. Although the friendly Cherokees had declined to accompany the army, there were several natives from the Ohio area present and George Croghan, the Pennsylvania trader, brought a large contingent from his home. Gen. Braddock made an effort to impress the Indians with a show of military might and splendor. That did impress the natives, but when it came to actual talks on the strategy of the campaign and plans for the future, Braddock got everything wrong.
A Serious Blunder
Not understanding native culture and economy, Braddock demanded that the warriors’ families return to Pennsylvania; that blunder lost him all of Croghan’s Indians. The next misstep was even worse. When Shingas, a Delaware secham, asked what would happen to the land that Braddock’s victory would secure from the French, the General declared that the British would secure it and that no Indian would inherit it. The chief was incredulous. If he and his people were asked to help the British oust the French from the Indian’s ancestral land, they should certainly be able to live in it. But he realized that the General thought it would be British land. The chief and his warriors departed in disgust. Only eight Indians were left to accompany the army as scouts and warriors.
Gen. Braddock designed a line of march to reflect the harshness of the country, the possibility of Indian attack and the problem of moving the supplies. He divided the army into three segments with Halkett leading the first with his 44th Regiment. The second was under Lt. Col. Burton and consisted of the Independent Companies, the Virginia and Maryland soldiers and most of the artillery. Col. Dunbar’s 48th would bring the major portion of the supplies and the remaining artillery. The first group moved out of camp on May 29th and began the passage over the mountain behind the camp. Three of their wagons were smashed on the steep incline. Braddock decided to find another way. It was not a good start. It would get worse.
Next Time: Through the Wilderness to Disaster. The army wins the battle against the mountains, but not against the enemy.
To the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie Esq. His majesty’s Lieutenant Governor, and Commander in Chief of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia:
The humble ADDRESS of the COUNCIL SIR,
WE, His Majesty’s loyal and faithful Subjects, the Council of Virginia, now met in General Assembly, beg leave to return your Honor our sincere Thanks for your affectionate Speech in the Opening of this Session; and from a just Sense of the inestimable Blessing of his Majesty’s Reign, and the many repeated Marks of his Goodness, to assure your Honor of our Zeal, upon all occasions, to give the strongest and most substantial Evidence, of our Duty and Gratitude to his Majesty, for every instance of his paternal Regard.
The Forces which his Majesty has been graciously pleased to send over to our Assistance, is a fresh Instance of his Royal Care; and from the Plan of Operations that has been wisely concerted, and the known bravery and Experience of the Gentleman who is appointed to command, we may reasonably hope to see the Peace of America settled upon a Foundation, that will not be shaken for Ages yet to come.
To drive the French from our Borders, to maintain the just Rights of the Crown, and to reestablish the Tranquillity of the British Empire in North America, are Views that must warm the patriot’s Breast. With these Views, Sir, You have been animated, upon these Motives you have acted with that Ardor, zeal, and Vigilance, as cannot fail of reflecting the most lasting Honor upon your Name, and Character.
The great and important Business of the Ohio, we have always considered in a nationally Light, not as Virginians, but as Britons and what Difficulties will not a Briton surmount, what Dangers will he not encounter, when he is engaged in the glorious Cause of his King and Country.
As these, Sir, are our Sentiments, we hope your Honor will be persuaded of our ready and cheerful Concurrence, and of our hearty Endeavors to do every Thing on our part, to promote his Majesty’s Services, the Prosperity of this Colony, and the Welfare of America.
The Virginia Gazette May 5, 1755
- April 21st Braddock arrives at Frederick with a small troop of Virginia light horse.
- April 29th Dunbar leaves Frederick for Virginia
- May 1st Braddock and G.W. leave Frederick for Winchester
- May 7th Braddock and G.W. leave Pott’s for Fort Cumberland
- May 10th Braddock arrives at Fort Cumberland.
- May 29th First advance from camp over the mountain unsuccessful.
- June 8th Finally, the army leaves Fort Cumberland through the Narrows.
For further reference see:
Braddock’s Road Across Northern and Western Virginia by Ralph E. Hersko, Jr.; InfinityPublishing.com, 2004. This book gives a good summary of the causes and course of Braddock’s campaign and a detailed look at his route through northern Virginia and Hampshire County.
“In Camp with Gen. Braddock,” a living history encampment reflecting what camp life along Braddock’s march might have been like took place at Abram’s Delight in Winchster, VA on April 16-17. See www.BraddocksMarch.org for a Report on the camp.
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