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Major General Edward Braddock
General in Chief of His Majesty's Forces in North America

Gen. Braddock


Braddock's Defeat
by Justin Winsor


    "… On the 10th of May he was at Wills Creek, with 2,200 men, and as his aides he had about him Captains Robert Orme and Roger Morris, and Colonel George Washington. Braddock invested the camp with an atmosphere a little seductive to Indian allies. There were fifty of them present at the time, but they dwindled to eight in the end. Braddock’s disregard had also driven off a nororious ranger, Captain Jack, who would have been serviceable if he had been wanted.

    "On the 10th of June the march resumed - a long, thin line, struggling with every kind of difficulty in the way, and making perhaps three or four miles a day. By Washington’s advice, Braddock took his lighter troops and pushed ahead, leaving Colonel Dunbar to follow more deliberately. On the 7th of July this advance body was at Turtle Creek, about eight miles from Fort Duquesne.

    "The enemy occupying the fort consisted of a few companies of French regulars, a force of Canadians, and about 800 Indians, - all under Contrecoeur, with Beaujeu, Dumas, and Ligneres as lieutenants. They knew from scouts that Braddock was approaching, and Beaujeu was sent out with over 600 Indians and 300 French, to ambush the adventurous Britons.

    "As Braddock reached the ford, which was to put him on the land-side of the fort, Colonel Thomas Gage, some years later known in the opening scenes of the American Revolution, crossed in advance, without the opposition that was anticipated.  Beaujeu had intended to contest the passage but his Indians, being refractory, delayed him in his march.

    "Gage, with the advance, was pushing on, when his engineer, laying the road ahead, saw a man, apparently an officer, wave his cap to his followers, who were unseen in the woods. From every vantage ground knoll and bole, and on three sides of the column, the concealed muskets were levelled upon the English, who returned the fire. Beaujeu soon fell. Dumas, who succeeded in command, thought the steady front of the red coats was going to carry the day, when he saw his Canadians fly, follow by the Indians, after Gage had wheeled his cannon upon the woods. A little time, however, changed all. The Indians rallied and poured the bullets into the massed, and very soon confused, British troops.

    "Braddock, when he spurred up, found everybody demoralized except Virginians, who were firing from the tree trunks, as the enemy did. The British general was shocked at such an unmilitary habit, and ordered them back into line. No one under such orders could find cover, and every puff from a concealed Indian was followed by a soldier's fall. No exertion of Braddock, or of Washington, or of anybody, prevailed. The general had four horses shot under him; Washington had two. Still the hillsides and the depths of the wood were spotted with puffs of smoke, and the slaughter pen was in a turmoil.

    "Young Shirley fell, with a bullet in his brain. Horatio Gates and Thomas Gage were both wounded. Scarce one Englishman in three escaped the bullets. The general had given the sign to retreat, and was wildly endeavoring to restore order, when a ball struck him from his horse. The flight of the survivors became precipitous, and when the last who succeeded in fording the river stopped to breathe on the other side, there were thirty Indians and twenty Frenchmen almost upon them. The French, however, pursued no farther. They had enough to do to gather their plunder, while the Indians unchecked their murderous instincts as they searched for the wounded and dying Britons.

    "The next morning large number of the Indians left Contrecoeur for their distant homes, laden with their booty. The French general feared for a while that Braddock, reinforced by Dunbar, would return to the attack. He little knew the edition of his enemy. The British army had become bewildered fugitives. Scarce a guard could be kept for the wounded general, as he was borne along on a horse or in a litter. When they met Dunbar the fright increased. Wagons and munitions were destroyed, for no good reasons, and the mass surged eastward.

The sinking Braddock at last died, and they buried him in the road, that the tramp of the men might obliterate grave. Nobody stopped till they reached Fort Cumberland, which was speedily turned into a disordered hospital.

    "The campaign ended with gloomy forebodings.  Dunbar, the surviving regular colonel, instead of staying at Cumberland and guarding the frontier, retreated to Philadelphia, leaving the Virginians to hold Cumberland and its hospital as best they could."


From: Narrative and Critical History of America; The English and French in North America, 1689-1763, vol. V; ed. by  Justin Winsor; Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston, 1887  pp. 495-501


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