American Historical Society George Thornton Fleming.

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

. (page 49 of 81)
Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 49 of 81)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

plunder that the Indians took. Four brass pieces with the arms of England, of the cal-
ibre of II lbs.; 4 ditto of Si^ lbs.; 4 brass mortars or howitzers of 75^ inch diameter;
3 other grenade mortars, of 4^ inch; 175 balls of 11 lbs.; 57 howitzers of 6^j inch;
17 barrels of powder, of 100 lbs.; 19,740 musket cartridges; the artifices for the artil-
lery; the other articles necessary for a siege; a great quantity of muskets, fit and unfit
for service ; a quantity of broken carriages ; 4 or 500 horses, some of them killed.

About 100 head of homed cattle; a greater number of barrels of powder and flour,
broken. About 600 dead, of whom a great number are officers and wounded in propor-
tion ; 20 men or women taken prisoners by the Indians ; very considerable booty in fur-
niture, clothing and utensils; a lot of papers which have not been translated for want
of time ; among others, the plan of Fort Duquesne with its exact proportions.*

A few lines on the French commanders are pertinent, especially of
M. Dumas, the French captain who assumed command when Beaujeu
fell — almost at the first fire — a victim of excessive zeal, one of the few
who exposed himself to the fire of his protected foe, and in the gorgeous
uniform of his rank. Dumas served at Fort Duquesne, commander in
place of Contrecoeur, until late in 1756 or early in 1757, when he was
transferred to Canada. Contrecoeur remained in command for several
months after the battle. Dumas served in the operations against Fort
William Henry and evoked the commendation of Montcalm, who men-
tioned him in the official dispatches as "An officer of great distinction.'*
The merits of Dumas were fully recognized by Vaudreuil, governor-
general of Canada from July 10, 1755, to September 7, 1760, the end
of the French power. Dumas served during the siege of Quebec and
returned to France in 1761 when he was appointed governor of Mauritius
and the Isle of Bourbon. He was succeeded in the command at Fort
Duquesne by Capt. de Ligneris, or Lignery, as it is most frequently
found. Contrecoeur had succeeded at French creek Legardeur St. Pierre,
the one-eyed old warrior who had received Washington in 1753, and
came to Duquesne in April, 1754, to drive Ward away and build the
French fort. Sargent has no word of Contrecoeur's subsequent history
— so we must dismiss him from ours. De Ligneris burned the famous
fort to prevent it from falling into Forbes' hands in November, 1758.

Maj. Patrick Mackellar, who afterward attained distinction at Quebec,
accompanied Braddock as engineer, with Robert Gordon and one Wil-
liamson as assistants. All three were wounded. It is remarkable that
amid the turmoil and panic of that terrible day they were able to make
the maps which are still available. Parkman, who has used everything

*Note. — ^The Indians have plundered a great deal of gold and silver coin.

Digitized by


Digitized by


MackcIIar's Maps of Braddock's Battle. Charts signed "Pat. Mackellar, Esq.," the upper show-
ing beginning and lower the end of battle. In both, the rectanj^ular figures s'now the
British, and the small circles the Frjnch and Indians. In upper. A is the advancing
French and Indians. In lower, th; French and Indians are shown almost surroun ling
the British. [Reproduced from *'Monicalm and Wolfe." Parkman ; courtesy •;! Little.
Brown &: Co., owners of copyright.]

Digitized by



pertaining to this history, reproduces them in his work "Montcalm and

For the purpose of illustrating the ground, Mackellar's maps as
printed by Parkman are presented, and the references also, and after-
wards apportioned to the present locus, that is, as we know the ground.
The following notes are from Mackellar's map No, i, entitled: "A
sketch of the Field of Battle of July 9th upon the Monongahela seven
miles from Fort Du Quesne, showing the Disposition of the Troops when
the Action began."

It is obvious Mackellar's reference characters must be described. The
parallelograms indicate British troops, the long lines expressing the
number of files. Small circles show French and Indians ; black crosses,
cannon and howitzers; square with a short vertical line on the top,
wagons, carts and tumbrils; the heavy letter I, cattle and pack horses.
Mackellar's verbatim references are : A — French and Indians when first
discovered by the Guides. B — Guides and six light Horse. C — ^Van-
guard of the Advanced Party. D — ^Advanced Party commanded by Lt.
Col. Gage. E — ^Working Party commanded by Sir John St. Clair. F— t-
Two Field Pieces. G — ^Waggons with Powder and Tools. H — Rear
Guard of Advanced Party. I — (light letter) Light Horse leading the
Convoy. K — Sailors and Pioneers with a Tumbril of Tools, etc. L —
Three Field Pieces. M — ^The General's Guard. N — Main Body upon the
Flanks of the Convoy, with the Cattle and Pack Horses between them
and the Flank Guard. O — Field Piece in ye Rear of ye Convoy. P —
Rear Guards. Q — Flank Guards. R — ^A Hollow Way. S — ^A Hill which
the French and Indians did much of their Execution from. T — Frazier's
Horse. The tumbrils were two-wheeled carts conveying tools, etc.

Mackellar's map No. 2 is entitled: "A sketch of the Field of Battle
showing the disposition of the troops about 2 o'clock when the whole of
the main body had joined the advanced and working partys, then beat
back from the ground they occupied as in plan No. i."

His notes are as follows : A — French and Indians skulking behind
Trees round the British. B — Two Field Pieces of advanced Party aban-
doned. C, D, E, H, K, M, N, Q— Whole body of British joined with
little or no Order ; but endeavoring to make Fronts towards ye Enemies
Fire. L — ^The 3 Field Pieces of the Main Body. P — Rear Guard divided
(round rear of Convoy now closed up) behind Trees having been
attacked by a few Indians. N. B. — ^The Disposition on both Sides con-
tinued about two hours nearly as here represented, the British endeavor-
ing to recover the guns (F) and to gain the Hill (S) to no purpose. The
British were at length beat from the Guns (L). The General was
wounded soon after. They were at last beat across the Hollow Way
(R) and made no further stand. The Retreat was full of Confusion and
Hurry, but after a few Miles there was a Body got to rally.

With reference to present topography, the first map shows that the
British left was at the Pennsylvania railroad and Corey avenue, the
right at the river and Turtle Creek at Frazier's ; the convoy spread out
from this point as far west as Thirteenth street The "Hollow Way"

Digitized by



is just beyond Braddock Station on the Pennsylvania railroad. The
British advance got as far north as Kirkpatrick avenue and Corey street
in North Braddock borough. The French and Indians were massed
on the south side of the railroad about Copeland Station; the'main body
of the British were north of the present line of the Pennsylvania tracks.

The second map shows the British huddled about the location
of Braddock Station of that road, perhaps slightly above, surrounded
on three sides, with an open way to the east. The convoys are shown
at the railroad in front of the furnaces, a few Indians are on their left
flank; French and Indians on right flank (though scattered) as far east
as Bessemer Station, with skulking parties behind trees endeavoring
to entirely surround the British. At the time of the battle Frazier's
house was deserted. From there it was eight miles to Fort Duquesne
by a rough path.

Mackellar was with Gage in the advance. Parkman says his map
was never fully approved by the chief officers, presumably Gage and
Burton, but it does correspond closely to one made by Capt. Orme,
whose plan, the last of six, was engraved in 1758 and published by
Jeffreys in his work, "General Topography of North America and the
West Indies,** London, 1768. This work contains a plan of Fort Du-
quesne also, which Jeffreys calls "le Quesne."

Digitized by


Digitized by








Digitized by


Edward Braddock, Generalissimo, Continued.

The reader has reached a point in the story of Braddock where some
of the many personal characterizations of this singular man must have
place. Despite the traditions of brutality and dissoluteness that have
been handed down through the years, it will be seen that there was
nevertheless, much good in him — much that appeals. In the language
of Sargent: "His faults were evidently considered by men of worth
rather as foibles than vices; his intimacies were with persons of char-
acter and honor; in many respects he was worthy of their confidence,
though his excesses must often have lost it."

Admitting that in private life Braddock was dissolute in disposi-
tion, "a very Iroquois," according to Walpole, "on the other hand it
need not be forgotten that Braddock was for forty-three years in the
service of the famed Coldstream Guards; that he probably conducted
himself with courage in the Vigo expedition and in the Low Countries,
and was a survivor of bloody Dettingen, Culloden, Fontenoy, and Bergen-
op-Zoom. In 1753 he was stationed at Gibraltar where "with all his
brutality," writes Walpole, "he made himself adored, and where scarce
any governor was endured before."^

But Braddock has had eulogists and some softened tones can be
heard. Washington said of him : "Thus died a man whose good and bad
qualities were intimately blended. His attachments were warm and
there was no disguise about him. He was brave even to a fault."

Washington, too, was as vexed as Braddock by the conduct of the
Pennsylvania people and, excusing Braddock's intemperate counsels as
expressed in Braddock's letters, Washington said : "A people who ought
rather to be chastised for their insensibility to danger and disregard of
their sovereign's expectations."^

Braddock, like John Forbes and James Grant, was a Scotchman,
born in Perthshire, about 1695. He was, therefore, sixty years old at
the time of his defeat. He entered the British service in the celebrated
Coldstream Guards as an ensign, at the age of fifteen, and served in
Flanders. Sargent says that it is not known where Braddock was bom.
("Braddock's Expedition," p. 115). Nevertheless, all the Encyclopedias
consulted for this work, including the "Brittanica," state that Braddock
was bom in Perthshire. In a note in a subsequent quotation Hulbert
directly contradicts the Encyclopedias. Sargent thinks the name "Brad-
dock" is Saxon, rather than Celtic or Erse, and its meaning is "Broad

If veracious historians are to be believed in their accounts of Brad-
dock's lurid language on his expedition, he was one of that renowned

i"Walpolc's Letters;*' Vol II, p. 461. London Edition, 1877.
^"Writings of Washington:" Sparks, Vol. I, p. 78. For Braddock's correspond-
ence, see "Olden Time;" VoL II, pp. 225-240.

Digitized by



army in Flanders that gave it its ever-memorable reputation for profanity.
His private life was not above reproach but he was a brave man and a
good soldier — in Europe. He was made a brigadier in 1746, hence had
had a general command for nine years before coming to America. He
was made a major-general in 1754. His appointment to this came
through the Duke of Cumberland. We learn further of his career:*

He was a lieutenant-colonel of the line and a major of the Foot
Guards, the choicest corps of the British army — sl position which cost
the holder no less than eighteen thousand dollars. He was born in
Ireland but was not Irish, for neither Scotch, Irish, nor Papist could
aspire to the meanest rank of the Foot Guards. He was as old as his
century. His promotion in the army had been jointly due to the good
name of his father, Edward Braddock, who was retired as major-general
in 1715, to his passion for strict discipline, and to the favor of His Grace
the Duke of Cumberland. Braddock's personal bravery was proverbial ;
it was said that his troops never faced a danger when their commander
was not "greedy to lead."

Anecdotes of Braddock furnished by Walpole have been accorded
insertion in Irving's "Life of Washington" and in Parkman's "Montcalm
and Wolfe," to which reference may be had.*

Careful consideration must be given estimates of Braddock's char-
acter and many can be cited. Walpole sums up Braddock's character in
these words, quoted by Sargent ("Expedition," p. 112): "Desperate
in his fortunes, brutal in his behavior, obstinate in his sentiments, he
was still intrepid and capable." In the opinion of Samuel Adams Drake,
the estimation of Franklin, taken with tSiat of Walpole's, "probably hits
off Braddock quite accurately."

Drake is not quite sure, one may observe, and just how accurately
Braddock was hit off has an equal measure of uncertainty.

One of the most incisive of the maligners (or shall we say acerb
critics?) of Braddock is Julian Hawthorne:

Braddock was ready to advance in April, if only he had **horse3 and carriages,"
which by Franklin's exertions were supplied. The bits of dialogue and comment in
which the grizzled nincompoop was an interlocutor, or of which he was the theme, are as
amusing as a page from a comedy of Shakespeare. Braddock has been called brave,
but the term is inappropriate; he could fly in a rage when his brutal or tyrannical
instincts were questioned or thwarted, and become insensible for a time, even to physical
danger. Ignorance, folly and self-conceit not seldom make a man seem fearless who
is a poltroon at heart. Braddock's death was a better one than he deserved; he raged
about the field like a dazed bull; fly he could not; he was incapable of adopting any
intelligent measures to save his troops; on the contrary he kept reiterating conven-
tional orders in a manner that showed his wits were gone. The bullet that dropped
him did him good service, but his honor was so little sensitive that he felt no gratitude
at being thus saved the consequences of one of the most disgraceful and wilfully
incurred defeats that ever befell an English general.^

<"Braddock's Roads, etc ;" A. B. Hulbert, pp. 36-37. A most admirable little work.
See also "Braddock's Expedition," etc. ; Sargent, p. 133.

*Cf. "Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second;" 1847^ VoL II, pp. 29^^.
It 18 to be noted that later historians have usually followed Walpole m the characteriza-
tion of Braddock.

^"United States from the Landing of Columbus to the Signing of the Protocol with
Spain;" J. Hawthorne, VoL I, p. 315,

Digitized by



From acerbity, Hawthorne passes in a moment to praise :

In that hell of explosions, smoke, yells and carnage, Washington was clear-headed
and alert, and passed to and fro amid the rain of bullets as if his body were no more
mortal than his soul. The contingent of Virginia troops— the "raw American militia"
as Braddock had called them, — '*who have little courage or good will, from whom I
expect almost no military service, though I have employed the best officers to drill them ;"
these men did almost the only fighting that was done on the English side, but th^r were
too few to avert the disaster.

Gentler far the remarks of Drake:

Braddock I He, poor general, died of his wounds after reaching the Great Mead-
ows, there finding in a soldier's grave full and entire immunity from the reproaches
that every^ere followed the mention of his name. Once only did he open his lips on
the night of the battle to feebly articulate the words, so full of meaning for him : '*Who
would have thought it"®

There is great extenuation for the misguided, erring Braddock. More
than a century and a half after the tragedy on the banks of our Monon-
gahela, July 9, 1755, comes Arthur Granville Bradley and softens the
aspersions upon the character of this slain soldier of Britain — in fact,
endeavors to remove them, to show the general in a better, truer light
Sorry the lot of the soldier who fails, even though he fall. Braddock
came to America in command of the first substantial force of British
regulars that had ever landed on American soil up to that time. Bradley
places Braddock in the newer, truer light especially for us of Pittsburgh
and vicinity who have heard his name only in execration. It is well
to ponder deeply on Bradley's words. He says :

Concerning Braddock, seeing that his name has been immortalized by the tragedy
for which some hold him, in part, accountable, a word or two must be said. He was
over sixty years of age, and was the choice of the Duke of Cumberland, then com*
mander-in-diief. As he had neither wealth nor influence, American warfare not being
in request by fortune's favorites, we may fairly suppose that he was selected on his
merits. No name has been more irresponsibly played upon and few reputations perhaps
more hardly used than Braddock's by most writers of history and nearly all writers of
fiction. His personality, from its very contrast to the wild woods in which he died, has
caught the fancy of innumerable pens and justice has been sadly sacrificed to picturesque
effect One is almost inclined to think that the mere fact of his name beginning with a
letter which encourages a multiplication of strenuous epithets, has been against him.
He is regarded as a tjrpical red-coat of the Hanoverian period by all American writers —
burly, brutal, blundering, blasphemous, but happily always, and without a dissentient
note— brave, indeed, as a lion. The familiar picture of our poor general as a corpulent,
red-faced, blaspheming bull-dog, riding rou^shod over colonial susceptibilities, tones
down amazingly when one comes to hard facts. Legends of his former life are, with
peculiar lack of generosity, quoted for what they are worth, and when examined they
seem to be worth nothing. Walpole airs his wit in one or two doubtful aspersions, and
a play of Fielding's? is in little reason supposed to satirise the general's earlier years.
What is really known about Braddock is in his favor. Vanquished in a duel, he had
been too pr6ud to ask his life. In command at Gibraltar, he was "adored by his men,"
and this, though he was notorious as a strict disciplinarian, a quality which Wolfe at
this very time declares to be the most badly needed one in die British army. Braddock
had been in the Guards, had enjoyed a private income of some £300 a year, which, it
may be noted, since "spendthriff' is one of the epithets hurled at him, he slightly

•"Making of Ohio Valley States;" Drake, p. 71.
7"The Covcnt-Garden Tragedy."

Digitized by



increased during his lifetime. The night before he sailed he went with his two aides,
Burton and Orme, to see Mrs. Bellamy, and left her his will drawn up in favor of her
husband. He also produced a map and remarked with a touch of melancholy that he
was "going forth to conquer whole worlds with a handful of men and to do so must
cut his way through unknown woods." He was, in fact, the first British general to
conduct a considerable campaign in a remote wilderness. He had neither precedents nor
the experience of others to guide him, and he found little help in the Colonies, where he
had been taught to look for much. He has been accused of disparaging the Colonial
irregulars and neglecting to utilize the Indians. As to the first taunt, having regard to
the appearance and discipline of the provincial troops that were paraded before Brad-
dock, he would not as a soldier trained on European fields, have been human had he not
refrained from open criticism; as to the second, we shall see that was tmtrue. Brad-
dock had been given to understand that the transport and commissariat would be pro-
vided by Virginia and her neighbors, whereas he found that not only was nothing ready,
but that there was no ground even for future expectations in that partictdar. If as an
ofiicer of the Cumberliand regime he had used the vigorous language of that school, it
would surely have been almost justified by circumstances; but there is no particular
evidence that he did even so much. His accomplishments in this line are in all prob-
ability part of the more or less fancy dress in which writers have delighted to clothe
him. Robert Orme, of the 35th Regiment, but recently of the Cbldstreams, was one of
the general's aides-de-camp, and has left us an invaluable journal of the expedition.
Orme was highly thought of, both by regulars and provincials and regarded as a man of
great sense and judgment, even by those who did not like Braddock and thought him,
from their Colonial point of view, unconcUiatory and overbearing. Orme in his private
diary gives no hint that Braddock was the violent, foul-mouthed person of the magazine
vniter. He was as much disheartened as his chief by the appearance and seeming temper
of the Colonial troops, and dwells on the trying conditions which Braddock had to meet
and the energy and honesty with which he endeavored to do his duty.8

To the charge that Braddock refused or neglected to utilize the
Indians who attached themselves to the expedition, he had an adequate
and unassailable defense. These allies, of whom but forty or fifty were
warriors, were awaiting Braddock at Wills Creek. Nine actually re-
mained, including Monocatootha and his son, who was killed. These
Indians were Iroquois and had their families with them, and they com-
posed the hundred of whom Franklin speaks. There being no provisions
for the entertainment of the Indian women and children while the braves
were on the warpath, it was absolutely imperative that these non-com-
batants be sent to their homes. The chief reason for sending them
away was a moral one. The presence of the Indian women in the neigh-
borhood of the troops was more than indiscreet — it led to a state of
licentiousness that was open and disgusting. Richard Peters, secretary
of Pennsylvania, who was in the camps, stated that there were high
quarrels among the Indians, and the great cause of discontent among
them other than not being frequently consulted by the general, was
the conduct of the royal officers towards the Indian women. Peters
said that the officers were so scandalously fond of their swarthy lovers
that the general was compelled to issue an order forbidding admission
to the camps of any Indian women.®

Bradley has not heard of Shirley's letter (Braddock's secretary) to
Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, from Fort Cumberland, May 23, 1755,

8"Thc Fight with France for North America;" A. G. Bradley, pp. 82-84.
^"Braddock's Expedition;" Sargent, p. 172, and the citations in footnote thereon,
Croghan's statement

Digitized by



and perhaps Bradley has not read Sargent's work entirely, for Sargent
records that July 8th, when Braddock was at Crooked Run, William
Shirley, the general's secretary, was out of all patience at the manner
in which the expedition had been conducted, and was determined to
go back to England the moment a campaign was brought to a close,
the success of which he was more than doubtful. Poor Shirley, the
son of Governor and Gen. William Shirley, fell on the fatal 9th of July,
shot through the head. Six weeks before, he wrote Governor Morris
a long letter in which he expressed his doubts of his general's ability and
the success of the expedition. The Peters he mentioned was Richard
Peters, then secretary of the Colony of Pennsylvania. In part Shirley

I don't know what description Mr. Peters will give you of our camp and the prin-
cipal persons in it, but as this goes into his pocket, I will give you mine, grounded upon

the observations of several months. We have a G ^1, most judiciously chosen for

being disqualified for the service he is employed in, in almost every respect. He may
be brave for what I know ; and he is honest in pecuniary matters ; but as the King said
of a neighboring governor of yours, when proposed for the command of the American
forces about a twelve-month ago, and recommended as a very honest man, though not
remarkably able: "A little more ability and a little less honesty upon the present occa-
sion might serve our Force better," If it is to happen that secondary officers can make
amends for the defects of a first, the main spring must be the mover, others in many
cases can do no more than follow and correct a little its motions. As to these I don't

Online LibraryAmerican Historical Society George Thornton FlemingHistory of Pittsburgh and environs: from prehistoric days to the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 49 of 81)