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History of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 online

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At this juncture be had no further use for his sword and presented it with becoming
remarks to the lieutenant of his own company, William Poison^ and begged him not to
spare it when opportunity offered to draw it in behalf of his country. As Poison gal-
lantly fell with Braddock, the sword was finally restored to Stobo long after his escape
from Quebec and Stobo ever after wore it with singular esteem. Stobo was commis-
sioned major July 20, 1754, and so called after that date. His long impriscmment with-
out any efforts on the part of Virginia or Great Britain for his release, his fortitude
while in confinement and his escape from the French — all went to invest him with the
character of a hero. On Stobo's return to Virginia, he was remitted the full amount of
his account by the House of Burgesses with interest from the time the money was first

One may spend little time in learning where Toner got his informa-
tion. He found it in the little Memoir of Stobo as reprinted by Craig
in Pittsburgh, and especial reference may be had therein to pages 16-17.

Sargent has a brief note regarding Stobo in his "Introductory Me-
moir» etc." He says :

At last he escaped from captivity (whether with or without Van Braam is not cer-
tainly known to the writer) and after a series of romantic adventures reached England.
His ''Memoirs" were there published, a reprint of which has lately been given at Pitts-
burgh t^ Mr. Neville Craig. The only remaining feature in his story that has been
discovered is the fact that on June 5th, 1760, he was made a captain in the 15th Foot,
(Amherst's regiment) then serving in America, which position he held as late as 1765.
He was an eccentric creature, an acquaintance of David Hume, and a friend of Smol-
lett, to whom he is said to have sate for the character of the immortal Lismahago. As
for Van Braam his career is still more obscure. Denounced as a traitor for his agency
in the capitulation of Fort Necessity, it must not be forgotten that three weeks before
the surrender, Washington, to whom he had served as interpreter on the mission of
1753, pronounced him "an experienced good officer and very worthy of the command
he has enjoyed;'' that he consented to going as a hostage to the French with the cer-
tainty of his fraud being soon discovered by his own party had he committed one;
that he was detained rather as a prisoner than a hostage and that he risked his life to
return to the English. These facts do not exoilpate him from the charge of imbecility
but they are inconsistent with the assumption of his deliberate treason. In 1770, too, it
would appear that he claimed and obtained his share of the Virginia bounty lands with
Washington as commissioner and the 14th of June, 1777, was made Major of the Third
Battalion of the 60th Foot or Rosral Americans then sUtioned in the West Indies.^o

The theory may be advanced to clear Van Braam of turpitude,
that he, an indifferent French scholar, may have been puzzled by the
word ^'I'assasinat" and was given another word in explanation of its
meaning, the substantives, trepas or mori, or the verb egorger, for in-
stance, which was altogether natural and not improbable. Why should
he prove false to Washington? No motives have been shown for an
infamous act. Washington seems to have smarted under the humiliation
of defeat, and the charge of deliberate murder made against him by the
French increased his indignation against the unfortunate Van Braam,

io"History of Braddock's Expeditkm ;" Wintfarop Sargent, p. 53.

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whose previous career was marked by more than an ordinary degree
of fidelity.

Capt. Lishmahago, the superannuated half-pay officer in the novel,
"The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker," will appeal to readers of Smol-
lett as "the best preserved and most severe of all that novelist's char-
acters." Smollett, however, as a historian is more than half forgotten
and as a novelist is little read. "Lishmahago" may have been suggested
by Stobo. Toner says that "Capt. Stobo left Virginia for England Feb-
ruary i8, 1760. June sth he was made captain of the isth Foot, Amherst's
regiment and served in the West Indies in 1762. He returned to Eng-
land in 1767. He left the army that year and died three years later."^^

It is a far cry from Pittsburgh to Quebec, but Stobo, the hostage,
and Wolfe, the general, have been linked indissolubly in the happenings
of September 12, 1759. Quebec was the climateric act in the great drama
of war of which Fort Duquesne was the first. Had there been no Fort
Duquesne there would have been no hostages. Had there been no Fort
Duquesne there would have been no Pittsburgh. It would have been
something else in some other way. Perhaps a way of peace. Pittsburgh
was born in war.

In November, J7S9, the Virginia Assembly passed the following reso-
lution :

Resolved; That the stun of £1,000 be paid by the treasurer of this colony to Capt.
Robert Stobo, over and above the pay that is due him from the time of his rendering
himself a hostage to this day as a reward for his zeal to his country, and a recompense
for the great hardships he has suffered during his confinement in the enemy's country.

Poor Van Braam was a prisoner for six years, mostly in Canada.
He returned to Williamsburg in the fall of 1760. All the officers in
Washington's regiment were thanked by the Virginia Assembly except
Major Muse, accused of cowardice, and Van Braam of duplicity. Rather
let us believe Van Braam, a poor scholar, was imposed on by the crafty
De Villiers, and translated the strange French word 'Tassassinat'* as "the
death, or loss of" Jumonville, instead of its real meaning. Surely Van
Braam was conscious of no turpitude or else he had not returned to
Virginia. He was no stranger to Washington. He had been with
Washington on his mission to the French forts and was left behind
by Washington, when the latter and Gist pushed forward alone on their
return. Van Braam safely brought back Washington's horses and
baggage. Van Braam had been a companion of Lawrence Washington
in British army service. Van Braam was a good swordsman and gave
the youthful George instructions in sword exercise. Upon Van Braam's
return he was recompensed also with a gratuity of £500 and 9,000 acres
of land in Kentucky. Stobo was likewise granted the same acreage in
the same State. Here both disappear from our Colonial history.

It is a curious fact that in Stobo's Memoirs and Letters there is no
mention of Van Braam. Whether or not they remained friends is not

ii^Washtngton's Journal, I754;" Toner's note^ p. 154.

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Toner gave some study to Van Braam. He informs us :

Captain Jacob Van Braam, a native of Holland, was trained to arms and served
under Admiral Vernon in the Carthagena expedition in the same department of the
British army with Major Lawrence Washington. Having heard much from the Vir-
ginia regiment in favor of that land of promise, at the end of his military engagement
he removed to Virginia and was engaged to some extent in teaching military tactics.
Jacob Van Braam was a ''Mason" and attended the same lodge in Fredericksburg at
which Washington became a member of that order; both are recorded as present at a
meeting September ist, 1753. Major George Washington, when starting on his journey
in the fall of 1753 to deUver Governor Dinwiddie's letter, or summons, to the French
commandant on the Ohio, found Van Braam at Fredericksburg, and engaged him as
an attendant on his journey. He ag^ain served under Washington in the expedition to
the Ohio in 1754, enlisting as a lieutenant, but, having seen much service, he acted in the
capacity of a captain, to which rank he was advanced and proved himself efficient.

From an unfortunate miswording in his translation to Washington of the articles
of surrender, and particularly in the expression "Vassassinaf* which he rendered "Kill-
ing'* of Jumonville, who fell in the skirmish of May 28th, 1754, Van Braam has
been much censured, and his fidelity to the British cause has even been questioned. On
the matter of the mis-translations, Washington wrote, March 27th, 1757: "That we
were wilfully or ignorantly deceived by our interpreter in regard to the word 'assas-
sination' I do aver, and will to my dying moment; so will every officer that was
present.** War had not been declared between France and England, and the French
prisoners taken by Washington were sent to Governor Dinwiddie at Williamsburg, who
held th^m as trespassers or prisoners of the State. The Governor made but one effort
for the exchange or release of Van Braam and Stobo by sending a flag of truce to Fort
Duquesne and offering to send Monsieur Drouillon of the rank of Major, and two
cadets, then prisoners, for the return of the two captains. This offering was declined,
and Van Braam and Stobo were sent to Canada. The latter escaped from prison and
the former was released on the surrender of Montreal in 1760. The Virginia "Gazette"
of November 8th, 1760, announces the arrival at Williamsburg of Captain Van Braam.
His name had been omitted in the resolutions of thanks to the officers and men for their
good conduct in the battle of the Great Meadows. Distrust in his loyalty must have
been given place to sympathy for his long suffering, and his want of familiarity with the
French language became the explanation of his mis-translation, else he would not have
regained the confidence of the Governor of Virginia, as he did.^^

Toner quotes from Brock's "Dinwiddie Papers" and Journal of the
House of Burgesses that a resolution prevailed March 24, 1761, to pay
Van Braam £500 by the Treasurer of the Colony, "over and above the
Ballance of his Pay that is due him up to this time, as a compensation
for his sufferings during a long and painful confinement as a Hostage
in the Enemy's Country."

March 30, 1761, the same Journal shows that a resolution, nemine
contradicente was moved:

That an humble address be made to his Honour the Goveraour to desire that he will
be pleased to take Captain Jacob Van Braam, who has undergone a long and severe
captivity in Canada, to his special Favour and Protection and recommend him for Pro-
motion in His Majesty's Service and that Messrs. Carter and Bland do wait on his
Honour with the said address.

April 2, 1761, Charles Carter reported that according to order he waited on the
Govemour with the Address of this House in Favour of Captain Van Braam, to which
His Honour was pleased to answer that he would recommend him to Lord Halifax
and Mr. Secretary Pitt for Promotion in His Majesty's Service.

i3Dr. Toner's note in his edition ''Washington's Journal, i7S4f PP- 2i-a3.

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April loth the Governor gave his assent to the resolution for the
extra pay as indemnity to Van Braam. His claim for land under Gov-
ernor Dinwiddie's proclamation of February, 1754, was also allowed,
and Van Braam received 9,000 acres. Upon entering the military serv-
ice of the Crown he was made major of the 30th Battalion of the 60th
Foot of the Royal Americans stationed in 1777 in the West Indies.^*

Sparks' statement in "Writings of Washington" (Appendix, Vol. II,
p. 468), that "Van Braam and Stobo were retained as prisoners in Quebec
till they were sent to England by the Grovernor of Canada,'* Judge Veech
has marked an error in the copy of Sparks' work once owned by Veech,
now in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The penciling says fur-
ther, "see 'Olden Time,' Vol. I, p. 369.""

Judge Veech says that Stobo, after many hair-breadth escapes, finally
returned to Virginia in 1759, whence he went to England. "Van Braam,
who knew a little French, and having served Washington as French
interpreter the previous year, was called upon to interpret the articles
of capitulation, at the surrender of "Fort Necessity ;" and has been gen-
erally, but unjustly, charged with having wilfully entrapped Wash-
ington to admit that the killing of Jumonville was an assassination. He
returned to Virginia in 1760, having been released after the conquest
of Canada by the English ; but the capitulation blunder sank him."**^

Jacob Arants, mentioned as a prisoner by Stobo, in his second letter
as of Capt. Mercer's Company, was well known to Washington and
bore a good character, for in Washington's pay rolls as given by Toner
this item is to be found ["Washington assigns Arants to Trent's Com-
pany"] :i«

To cash to Jacob Arrans at Enlisting N. B. This person was one of Capt
Trenf s men, master of the Indians Language and perfectly acquainted with all
the way and Mount'ns between this and the Fork £4-6-8

Craig furnishes this abstract from the Journals of the House of Bur-
gesses of Virginia :

Friday, October 25th, 1754.

Upon a motion made:

Resolved, that an humble address to his honor, the Governor, to express our appro-
bation of the conduct and gallant behavior of the several officers of the Virginia forces,
except George Muse, late Lieutenant-Colonel, and Jacob Van Braam, late Captain ; and
to desire his honor to recommend them in a particular manner to his Majesty's favor;
and at the same time acquaint his honor, that it is the opinion of this House, that
nothing will contribute so much to the success of the expedition against the invaders
of his Majesty's dominions, as a proper encouragement to such of the inhabitants as
shall be inclined to serve in his Majesty's army in the present expedition, and that Mr.
Charles Carter, Landon Carter, Mr. Fitzhugh, and Mr. Randolph, do wait on his honor
with the said address.^? By the House of Bubgesscs.

C. Wythe, c h. b.

i«Brock's ''Dinwiddie Papers;" Journal of the House of Burgesses. Toner's
Edition "Washington's Journal, 1754;" P. 24,

i^This reference is to Lyman C. Draper's contemplated biographical work and men-
tion of Stobo's extraordinary adventures.

^('"Monongahela of Old;" p. 44.

i^Appendix to ''Washington's Journal, 1754;** Toner's Edition, p. i8i.

17 Appendix, "Memoirs of Stobo;" pp. 79-80.

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The names of the two famous hostages are commemorated in two
well known streets in Pittsburgh — hence we have them always with us.
Van Braam street extending from Fifth avenue to Bluflf street has
retained its name for at least 75 years. Stobo street, a renaming, has
been given to part of the Diamond on the North Side, the former city
of Allegheny. The original Stobo street was that part of Moultrie street
north of Fifth avenue. The streets thus commemorated are short, and
insignificant thoroughfares as far as business in concerned. The proper
Dutch spelling with the double vowel and separation, "Van Braam,"
once displayed on the street sign, has long since given way to "Van-
bram." So too "Boquet** for "Bouquet." Stobo's commemoration is
inadequate as a remembrance ; Van Braam's is fair enough. In the same
locality as Van Braam street are Washington, Gist, Dinwiddie, De-
villier*s (another transposition), and Jumonville streets — all reminders
of Washington's Campaign of 1754.

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Edward Braddock, Generalissimo.

We come now to the narration of events that have placed the name
of Braddock on many pages of American history — sl disheartening nar-
rative wherein contemplation of that veteran soldier of Europe in his
pathetic end awakens only compassion. Braddock is immortal through
defeat, but his name eternal as human things are because it has been
applied to a great industrial community and in that application sug-
gestive of mighty works and wonderful accomplishments. Vast history
is opened up by the name Braddock. Vast not only in significance, but
in results. The disaster of July 9, 1755, served but to incense and made
more determined the British ministry to drive the French out of the
"Debatable Land about the Ohio." There was a loud cry, too, for ven-
geance which though slow in coming, arrived on two most memorable
occasions ; first at the Forks of the Ohio, November 25, 1758, with John
Forbes the "Head of Iron," and that day was the natal day of Pittsburgh.
It came again in all completeness September 13, 1759, in the grey dawn
of morning on the Plains of Abraham. For one hundred and sixty-seven
years able and accomplished writers of history have told, in several
languages, the tragic story of Braddock's Field, and in varying veins,
from compassionate to deeply incisive, have placed the character of
Edward Braddock before the world. . Able artists have touched the
pencil and the brush to give us divergent and somewhat impossible
views of the battle and have more or less, as imagination dictated, de-
picted the fall, the death and burial of the brave but stubborn general
in command.

The fame of the modern town of Braddock, that has spread far be-
yond the locus of the battle, is such that every detail of the strange
contest maintains an absorbing interest.

Across the Monongahela opposite the town there is a wooded hill
known as Kennywood and beneath this hill the army of General Edward
Braddock halted on its march from the mouth of the Youghiogheny
on the fateful day, July 9, 1755, and from this hillside the army marched
with all the pomp and pageantry of martial array — down to the river's
edge and through the shallow waters of the Monongahela, past the
deserted cabin of John Frazier, the trader, at the mouth of Turtle creek
and debouching to the left, the veterans of many fields climbed the slight
hill to the ravines in their front. A thousand rifles blaze out and the war-
whoops from 700 red throats sound as the crack of doom. Braddock
IS immortal through defeat. Three days later with dying breath the
fated warrior murmured to his faithful attendants: "Who would have
thought it?"

Today from these same heights, gazing across the placid river
towards the scenes of slaughter of 1755, one can repeat the inquiry of
the contrite general. We may consider his last words also : "Next time

Pitta.— 20

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we shall know better," for the next time a British army came was
November, 1758; then Forbes and Victory— and PITTSBURGH. With
these remarks we may proceed to the story of Braddock's Expedition.

The British Government finally determined to oppose with energy
the growing power of the French in America and to regain possession
of the territory upon the Ohio, war or no war. This determination led
to the dispatch of Braddock's Expedition, so called in history. The
plan was to send two regiments on foot from Ireland to Virginia to be
reinforced there by Colonial troops. Governor Shirley of Massachu-
setts and Sir William Pepperell were to raise two regiments of one
thousand men each in New England to be commanded by themselves,
and three thousand were to be enlisted in Pennsylvania, the whole
to be placed at the disposal of a commander-in-chief sent from England.
This was Major-Gen. Edward Braddock, appointed January 14, 1755,
to this service and the command of all the Royal forces in North Amer-
ica. The two infantry regiments, the 44th and 48th, each of five hundred
men, sailed from Cork in January and arrived at Alexandria, Virginia,
February 20, 1755. The 48th was commanded by Col. Thomas Dunbar,
and the 44th by Col. Sir Peter Halket.

After the battle of the Great Meadows, Col. James Innes, of North
Carolina, was ordered to Wills creek to construct a fort which would
serve as a rallying point for the remaining forces and as a guard for
the frontiers. This was afterward called Fort Cumberland. The work
was done by Capt. Mackaye's independent company from South Carolina,
which had been with Washington at Fort Necessity, and two independ-
ent companies from New York which were on the march from Alexandria
at the time of the action at the Great Meadows. The fort at Wills creek
was lightly fortified ; ten four-pounders and some swivels were mounted.
The Colonial forces that had composed and those that were intended
for his regiment were collected at Wills creek, but did not remain long,
for the funds for the purpose had been exhausted and no pledges of
future payment could be secured, hence the troops returned to their homes
and the frontiers were left without defense. The immediate necessity for
taking bold measures to contend with the combined forces of the French
and Indians became evident to the Colonial governors, especially to
Dinwiddie, of the most readily affected colony after Pennsylvania. The
Virginia Assembly met in October, and among the first measures passed
was an appropriation of £20,000 for public exigencies. Dinwiddie
received from England £10,000 sterling in specie, with the promise of
£10,000 more. Two thousand stands of arms were also sent him. He
also formed the plan to raise a Virginia army of ten companies of a hun-
dred men each, and make each company independent so that there would
be no officer in the command above the rank of captain. Dinwiddie
thought by this expedient to remedy the difficulty of rank and the right
to command which had been the cause of much contention between the
Colonial contingents and the Regular troops of the British forces. Wash-
ington therefore resigned, and loath to accept a lower commission than
the rank he held, returned home. Sparks says that under this com-

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mission as colonel, Washington had exhibited a rare example of bravery
and good conduct which had gained him the applause of the country.^
Governor Horatio Sharpe of Maryland had received an appointment
from the King as commander-in-chief of all the Colonial forces engaged
against the French in the region of Western Pennsylvania, with Col.
William Fitzhugh second in command. Aware of the value of Wash-
ington's experience and reputation, Sharpe endeavored to induce Wash-
ington to return to the service, but Washington, although not averse,
declined, for he recognized the degradation planned by Dinwiddle, prob-
ably, said Sparks, in collusion with other British officers. Washington's
return was due altogether by the request of Braddock himself. Since his
resignation in October, 1754, Washington had remained inactive at Mount
Vernon. Braddock, knowing his value, and the importance of securing
his services to the expedition, directed Orme, his aide-de-camp, to write
him, proposing an expedient by which the chief obstacles would be
removed. Orme's letter was dated "Williamsburg, Va., March 2, 1755/'
and reads :

Sir: The General having been informed that you expressed some desire to make
the campaign, but that you declined it upon some disagreeableness that you thought
might arise from the regulations of command, has ordered me to acquaint you that he
will be very glad of your company in his family, by which all inconveniences of that
kind will be obviated

I shall think myself very happy to form an acquaintance with a person so univer-
sally esteemed, and shall use every opportunity of assuring you how much, I am, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

Robert Orice, Aid-de-Camp.*

When Gen. Braddock landed in Virginia, as commander-in-chief of
all the military forces in North America, he brought with him the fol-
lowing order of the King, dated St. James's, November 12, 1754, respect-
ing the rank of Colonial officers :

All troops servmg by commission signed by us, or by our general commander-in-
chief in North America, shall take rank before all troops, which may serve by commis-
sion from any of the governors, lieutenant or deputy governors, or president for the
time being. And it is our further pleasure that the general and field officers of the
provincial troops shall have no rank with the general and field officers, who serve by
commission from us; but that all captains, and other inferior officers of our forces,
who are, or may be employed in North America, on all detachments, courts-martial, and
other duty, wherein they may be joined with officers serving by commission from the
governors, lieutenant or deputy governors, or president for the time being of the said
provinces, to command and take post of the said provincial officers of the like rank,
though the commissions of the said provincial officers of like rank should be of elder

Washington accepted Braddock's invitation and was in general
orders proclaimed an aide to the general, May 10, 1755, at Fort Cum-

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 42 of 81)