Boyd Crumrine.

History of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 10 of 255)
Online LibraryBoyd CrumrineHistory of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 10 of 255)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

expedition as a member of his military family, says, " His views on the
subject were explained, with a becoming frankness and elevation of
mind, in a letter to a friend; *1 may be allowed,' said he, *to claim

Christopher Gist and Nathaniel Gist, his ion, ac-
companied theexpedition a.'* |)rincipal guides. George
Croghan and Andrew MonUjur tvcre witli the general
as Indian interpreters.

"The soldiers were ordered to be furnished with
one new spare shirt, one new pair of stockings, and
one new pair of shoes ; and Osnabrig waistcoats and
breeches were provided for them, as the excessive
heat would have made tlie otiiers insupportable; and
the commanding officers of companies were desired
to provide leather or bladders for the men's hats."*

The transportation which was collected at Fort
Cumberland for the use of Braddock's force consisted
of one hundred and ninety wagons and more than
fifteen hundred horses. Wlien he landed in Virginia
he expected that " two hundred wagons and one hun-
dred and fifty carrying-horses" would be furni,shed by
the provincial authorities, but when he arrived at
Frederick, Md., he found that not more than a tenth
part that number had been raised, and that some of
these even were in an unserviceable condition. Upon
learning this he burst out in fierce invective against
the inefficiency, poverty, and lack of integrity among
the provincials, and declared that theexpedition was
at an end, for that it was impracticable to proceed
without one hundred and fifty wagons, and a corre-
sponding number of horses at the very least. But Dr.
Benjamin Franklin, who was present at Frederick,
told the general that the Pennsylvania farmers were
able to furnish the necessary transportation, and that
he (Franklin) would contract for a specified sum to
deliver one hundred and fifty wagons and the neces-
sary horses at Fort Cumberland within a given time,
whereupon Braddock proceeded on his march; and
in about two weeks Franklin had caused the specified
number of wagons and animals to be at the fort. Gen.
Braddock was very grateful for this service, and he
warmly complimented Franklin in a letter which he
wrote to the Secretary of State, dated at Wills'.Creek,
June 5th, as follows : »" .- '

" Before I left Williamsburg the quartermaster-gen-
eral told me that I might depend on twenty-five hun-
dred horses and two hundred wagons from Virginia
and Maryland ; but I had great rea.son to doubt it,
having experienced the false dealings of all in this
country with whom I had been concerned. Hence,
before my departure from Frederick, I agreed with
Mr. Benjamin Franklin, postmaster in Pennsylvania,
who has great credit in that province, to hire one

some meiit if it is considered that the sole motive which invites me to
the lield is the laudable desire of serving my country, not the gmlifica-
tion of any ambitioiis or lucrative plans. This, I flatter myself, will
manifestly appear by my going as a volunteer, without expectation of
reward or prospect of oblnimiig a coinmaiid, as I am confidently assured
it is not i» Geiieml Bratldock^s potrer to give me a commission that I icould
accept. ... It is true I have been importuned to make this campaign
by Gen. Braddock as a member of his family, he conceiving, I suppose
that the small knowledge I had an opportunity of acquiring of the
country and the ludians is worthy of bis notice, and may be useful t
him in the progress of the expedition.' "
* Capt. Orme's Journal,



hundred and fifty wagons and the necessary number
of horses. This he accomplished with promptitude
and fidelity ; and it is almost the only instance of
address and integrity which I have seen in all these

It has been said that, in procuring the wagons and
horses from the Teutonic farmers in the Southern
Pennsylvania counties, he was materially aided by the
presence of Braddock's quartermaster-general. " Sir
John Sinclair ' wore a Hussar's cap, and Franklin
made use of the circumstance to terrify the German
settlers with the belief that he was a Hussar, who
would administer to them the tyrannical treatment
they had exjierienced in their own country if they
did not comply with his wishes."

At a council of war held at Fort Cumberland the
order of march was determined on, viz. : the advance
was to be led by " a party of six hundred men,
workers and coverers, with a field-oificer and the
quartermaster-general ; that they should take with
them two six-pounders, with a full proportion of am-
munition ; that they should also take with them eight
days' provisions for three thousand two hundred men ;
that they should make the road as good as possible,
and march five days towards the first crossing of the
Yoxhio Geni,'^ which was about thirty miles from the
camp, at which place they were to make a deposit of
provisions, building proper sheds for its security, and
also a place of arms for the security of the men. If
they could not in five days advance so far, they were
at the expiration of that time to choose an advan-

1 This same Sir John Sinclaii' was a man of very rough speech and
imperious and domineering character, as is made apparent by the fol-
lowing extract from a letter written by Messrs. George Croghan, James
Burd, John Armstrong, William Buchanan, and Adam Hoopes to Gov-
ernor Morris, of Pennsylvania, dated Fort Cumberland, April 16, 1755,
at which time some of the companies, as well as Sir John himself, had
already reached the rendezvous. The writers of the letter had been
appointed to view and lay out a road over the mountains, and had re-
turned from their mission to the fort. In the letter they say, " Last
evening we came to the camp, and were kindly received by the oificers,
but particularly Capt. Rutherford. We waited for Sir John coming to
camp from the road towards Winchester, who came this day at three
o'clock, but treated us in a very disagreeable manner. He is extremely
warm and angi-y at our province; he would not look at our draughts,
nor suffer any representations to be made to him in regard to the prov-
ince, but stormed like a lion rampant. He said our commission to lay
out the road should have issued in January laat, upon his first letter;
that doing it now is doing nothing; that the troops must march on the
first of May ; that the want of tiiis road and the provisions promised by
Pennsylvania has retarded the expedition, which may cost them their
lives, because of the fresh number of the French that are suddenly like
to be povired into the country; that instead of marching to the Ohio he
would in nine days march his army into Cumberland County, to cut the
roads, press wagons, etc. ; that he would not suffer asoldier to handle an
axe, but by fire and sword oblige the inhabitants to do it, and tiike every
man that refused to the Ohio, as he had yesterday some of the Virginians ;
that he would kill all kind of cattle, and cari-y away the horses, burn
houses, etc. ; and that if the French defeated them by the delays of this
province, that he would with his sword drawn pass through the prov-
ince and treat the inhabitants as a parcel of traitors to his master; that
he would to-morrow write to England by a man-ol-war, shake Mr.
Penn's proprietaryship, and represent Pennsylvania as disaffected. . . .
and told us to go to the general, if we pleased, who would give us ten
bad words for one he had given."

- Yougbiogheny.

tageous spot, and to secure the provisions and men as
before. When the wagons were unloaded the field-
oflicer with three hundred men was to return to camp,
and Sir John S' Clair with the first engineer was to
remain and carry on the works with the other three

This advance detachment was to be followed by the
remainder of the forces in three divisions, in the fol-
lowing order : First, Sir Peter Halket's command,
with " about one hundred wagons of provisions,
stores, and powder ;" second, Lieut.-Col. Burton,
" with the independent companies, Virginia, Mary-
land, and Carolina Rangers," taking the artillery, am-
munition, and some stores and provisions ; third,
Col. Dunbar's brigade, " with the provision-wagons
from Winchester, the returned wagons from the ad-
vanced party, and all the carrying-horses."

In accordance with this order, Maj. Chapman with
a body of six hundred men, and accompanied by Sir
John Sinclair, marched at daybreak on the 30th of
May, but " it was night before the whole baggage had
got over a mountain about two miles from camp. . . .
The general reconnoitred this mountain, and deter-
mined to set the engineers and three hundred more
men at work on it, as he thought it impassable by
howitzers. He did not imagine any other road could
be made, as a reconnoitring-party had already been
to explore the country ; nevertheless, Mr. Spendelow,
lieutenant of the seamen, a young man of great
discernment and abilities, acquainted the general that
in passing that mountain he had discovered a valley
which led quite round the foot of it. A party of a
hundred men with an engineer was ordered to cut a
road there, and an extreme good one was made in
two days, which fell into the other road about a mile
on the other side of the mountain."

" Everything being now settled. Sir Peter Halket,
with the Forty-fourth Regiment, marched on the 7th
of June; Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, with the inde-
pendent companies and Rangers, on the 8th, and Col-
onel Dunbar, with the Forty-eighth Regiment, on the
10th, with the proportions of baggage as was settled
by the council of war. The same day the general
left Fort Cumberland, and joined the whole at Spen-
delow Camp, about five miles from the fort." * The
camp was named in honor of Lieut. Spendelow, who
discovered the route around the foot of the mountain.

At Spendelow Camp a reduction of baggage was
made, and the surplus sent back to the fort, together
with two six-pounders, four cohorns, and some powder
and stores, which cleared about twenty wagons of
their loads, " and near a iiundred able horses were
given to the public service. . . . All the king's
wagons were also sent back to the fort, they being
too heavy, and requiring large horses for the shafts,
which could not be procured, and country wagons
were fitted for powder in their stead."



On the 13th the cohimn moved to Martin's plan-
tation; on the 15th it "passed the Aligany Moun-
tain, which is a roclcy ascent of more than two miles,
in many places exceedingly steep ; its descent is very
rugged and almost perpendicular ; in passing which
we entirely demolished three wagons and shattered
several." That night the First Brigade camped about
three miles west of Savage River. On the 16th the
head of the column reached the Little Meadows, ten
miles from Martin's plantation ; but the rear did not
arrive there until the 18th. At this place they found
Sir John Sinclair encamped with three hundred men,
this being the farthest point he could reach in the
five days specified in the orders.

At the Little Meadows the general adopted a new
plan of campaign, — to move forward with a division
composed of some of his best troops, with a few guns
and but little baggage, leaving the remainder of his
force behind to bring up the heavy stores and artillery.

This decision was taten largely through the advice
of Washington, who, although not of rank to sit in the
councils of war, possessed no small shwre of the gen-
eral's confidence, by reason of the experience he had
gained in the campaign of the preceding year. He
gave it as his opinion that the movement of the army
was too slow, on account of the cumbrous wagon-
train, which on the march stretched out for a distance
of more than three miles, thus not only retarding the
progress of the forces, but affording an excellent op-
portunity for lurking parties of the enemy to attack
and destroy some lightly-defended part of it before
help could arrive from the main body. He had from
the first urged the use of pack-horses instead of wagons
for the greater part of the transportation, and although
his advice was ignored by the general, its wisdom now
became apparent. Orme's .Journal says that by the
experience of the four days' march from Spendelow
Camp to the Little Meadows, " it was found impos-
sible to proceed with such a number of carriages.
The horses grew every day fainter, and many died ;
the men would not have been able to have undergone
the constant and necessary fatigue by remaining so
many hours under arms, and by the great extent of
the baggage the line was extremely weakened. The
general was therefore determined to move forward
with a detachment of the best men, and as little in-
cumbrance as possible."

The selected force destined to move in the advance
consisted of between twelve and thirteen hundred
men. " A detachment of one field-ofiicer with four
hundred men and the deputy quartermaster-general
marched on the 18th to cut and make the road to the
Little Crossing of the Yoxhio Geni, taking with them
two six-pounders with their ammunition, three wagons
of tools, and thirty-five days' provisions, all on carry-
ing-horses, and on the 19th the general marched with
a detachment of one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel,
one major, the two eldest grenadier companies, and
five hundred rank and file, the party of seamen, and

eighteen light-horse, and four howitzers with fifty
rounds eacli, and four twelve-pounders with eighty
rounds each, and one hundred round.s of ammunition
for each man, and one wagon of Indian presents; the
whole number of carriages being about thirty. The
howitzers had e.ach nine horses, the twelve-pounders
seven, and the wagons six. There was also lliirty-
five days' provisions carried on horses." The troops
left beliind with Col. Dunbar numbered about nine
hundred, including four artillery officers. Eighty-
four wagons and all the ordnance stores and provis-
ions not immediately needed by the advance column
were also left in his charge.

The advanced force under Braddock reached the
Little Crossings (Castleman's River) on the evening
of the 19th, and camped on the west side of the
stream. At this camp Washington was taken seri-
ously ill with a fever, and when the troops marched
the next morning he was left behind with a guard and
proper attendance' and comforts. As .soon as able he
was to come on with the rear division under Col.
Dunbar; but it has been stated that he ;isked and
received from Gen. Braddock a promise that the fort
should not be attacked until he had recovered and
rejoined the assaulting column. It does not, however,
seem reasonable to suppose that he would have wished
to jeopardize the success of the expedition by asking
such an indefinite delay, nor that Braddock would,
under any circumstances, have bound himself by
such a promise.

In four days from his departure from the Little
Meadows, Gen. Braddock's column had made nine-
teen miles, and arrived at the Great Crossings of the
Youghiogheny, which the troops crossed without
bridging.- On the 24th of June they passed an In-
dian camp, recently vacated, which gave indications
that it had been occupied by about one hundred and
seventy persons. " They had stripped and painted
some trees, upon which they and the French had
written many threats and bravadoes, with all kinds

1 In some accounts of this sickness of Washington, it has been stated
that Dr. James Craik (who was with the expedition ss a surgeon in
the Virginia troops, and who was also the life-lon»; friend and physi-
cian of Washington) was left behind at the Little Crossings to attend
him, but such does not appear to hare been the case. The Hrn -iTnmag
Finley, in a letter written to the editor of NUes' Re^ister^ dated Youngs-
town, Pa., March 27, 181S, relates some conversations which he had with
Washington in reference to Braddock's campaign, from which letter the
following extracts are made: "On one occasion, in a mixed company,
some question being .isked of nie, then sitting next the President (Wash-
ington), about the Big Sleadows and Dunbar's Run, by Col. Sprigg, of
Maryland, which I could not answer, the President, to whom I referred
the question, in answering iheni described Dunbar's camp, to which the
of Braddock's army retired after the defeat, . , , Looking round
dy to me, he said, ' Braddock was both my general and my physi-
cian. I was attacketi with a dangerous fever on the march, and he left
a sergeant [not a surgeon'] to take care of me, nnd Jam&>^ fever potcders^
ivith directions Jioic to give thetn, and a wagon to bring me on when I
would be able, which was only tlie day before the defeat,'"

- An entry in Orme's Journal for this day is to this effect: " The 2-4th
of June we marched at five in the morning, anti passed the second
branch of tlie Yoxhio Ueui, which is about one hundred yards wide,
about three feet deep, with a very strong current."



of scurrilous language." The French had received
early information of Braddock's coming, and parties
of them with their Indian allies had advanced east
beyond the Laurel Hill to meet the English ; not for
the purpose of attacking them, but to hover along
their front and flanks, to spy out their movements,
murder stragglers, and to keep the commandant at
Fort Du Quesne informed, from day to day, of the
progress of the English forces. From the time when
the troops crossed the Youghiogheny, hostile Indians
were always near them along the route, and evidences
of their presence multiplied with each succeeding
day's march.

In fact, nearly all the savages west of the moun-
tains were now ranged on the side of the French. A
few only of the Indian allies of the English had re-
mained true to them after the surrender of Fort Ne-
cessity, and among these were Monacatoocha, the
successor of the friendly Half-King,' and Scarooyada,
whose acquaintance Washington had made on his trip
to Le Breuf in the previous year. These two chiefs,
with nearly a hundred and fifty Seneca and Delaware
warriors, had joined the English on their march, and
proposed to accompany them as scouts and guides.
They could without doubt have rendered great ser-
vice in that capacity, and if the warnings of their
forest experience had been listened to, might perhaps
have saved Braddock's army from the disaster which
overtook it. But the general despised and rejected
their services, and treated them with so much of
slight and contempt that they finally retired in dis-
gust and left him to his^'fate.

On the 25th of June, "at daybreak, three men who
went without the sentinels were shot and scalped."
Gen. Braddock was greatly incensed at these murders,
and issued an order directing that " every soldier or
Indian shall receive five pounds for each Indian
scalp." At their halting-place on the same evening
they found the marks of another French and Indian
camp, so lately vacated that the fires were yet burn-
ing. " The Indians who had occupied it," said Orme,
" had marked in triumph upon trees the scalps they
had taken two days before, and many of the French
had written on them their names and sundry insolent
expressions. We picked up a commission on the
march, which mentioned the party being under the
command of the Sieur Normanville. This Indian
camp was in a strong situation, being upon a high
rock, with a very narrow and steep ascent to the top.
It had a spring in tlie middle, and stood at the termi-
nation of the Indian path to the Monongahela, at the
confluence of Redstone Creek. By this path the party
came which attacked Mr. Washington last year, and
also this which attended us. By their tracks they
seemed to have divided here, the one party going
straight forward to Fort Du Quesne, and the other

' The Half-King, Tanacliarieou, had died in the preceding October, at
Harris^ Ferry (now Harrisburg), on the Susquehanna.

returning by Redstone Creek to the Monongahela.
A captain, four subalterns, and ninety volunteers
marched from the camp with proper guides to fall in
the night upon that party which we imagined had
returned by the Monongahela. They found a small
quantity of provisions and a very large bateau, which
they destroyed," but they saw nothing of the foe they
were sent to capture.

On the 27th of June the troops reached Gist's plan-
tation, where they found Lieut.-Col. Burton and Sir
John Sinclair, with a detachment of about four hun-
dred men, who had been sent forward to cut out the
road in advance of the main body. On the 28th the
forces moved on from Gist's, crossed the Youghio-
gheny on the 30th, and thence moved northward
along the route of the old Iroquois war trail, leading
to the Allegheny. On the 3d of July " we marched,"
says Orme in his journal, " about six miles to the Salt
Lick Creek.^ Sir John S' Clair proposed to the Gen-
eral to halt at this camp, and to send back all our
horses to bring up Colonel Dunbar's detachment,"
which was then encamped at Squaw's Fort, about
three miles east of the Great Crossings of the Youghio-
gheny, in the present county of Somerset. Upon
this suggestion of Sir John, the general convened a
council of war, composed of Col. Sir Peter Halket,
Lieut.-Cols. Gage and Burton, Maj. Sparks, and Sir
John Sinclair, D.Q.G. After due consideration of
the proposition, " the council were unanimously of
the opinion not to halt there for Col. Dunbar, but to
proceed the next morning." The camp where this
council of war was held was about one and one-half
miles below the site of the present town of Mount
Pleasant, in Westmoreland County. From this place
the column marched on to the Great Sewickley ;
thence to the Brush Fork of Turtle Creek, where
Braddock halted in indecision, as the crossing of that
stream and the passage through the ravines appeared
hazardous. He finally decided to abandon the route
originally proposed from this point along the ridges
to Fort Du Quesne, and accordingly, turning sharply
to the left, he moved towards the Monongahela, en-
camping on the night of the 8th of July about two
miles east of the river, below the mouth of the
Youghiogheny. It was at this camp that Wash-
ington (although not yet fully recovered from his ill-
ness) rejoined the army, having left Col. Dunbar's
force near the Great Meadows, and came on " in a
covered wagon," under protection of a detachment
sent on to guard a pack-horse train laden with pro-
visions for the advance column.

On the morning of the 9th of July the troops marched
to the Monongahela and crossed to the southwest
shore, moving thence on the left bank for about three
miles ; then recrossed the river at Fraser's, just be-
low the mouth of Turtle Creek. The crossing was
completed at about one o'clock in the afternoon, and

2 Now linown as Jacobs Creek.

n\A^u^^.,^^\„J^^}^ "VVvd T^-Avv44




when the column reformed on the right bank of the ]
. Monongahela, it was within three-fourths of a mile of
f'l the place where the French with their Indian allies
/ lay hidden along the slopes of the forest defile which,
tl ere the sun went down on that memorable day, was
. to be reddened by the blood of the bravest, and made
*>- historic for all time as "Braddock's Field" of disaster
-y^ and defeat.

^^ The bloody battle of the Monongahela has been too
. often described to require repetition here. It resulted
'^•nn the utter defeat and rout of the English, and the
^^ headlong flight of the survivors to the south side of
the river at the point where they had crossed. The
force which entered the defile was fourteen hundred
■>-,and sixty strong,' including officers and privates. Of
•, <this force four hundred and fifty-six were killed and
f four hundred and twenty-one wounded, making a
^ total of eight hundred and seventy-seven ; while only
five hundred and eighty-three escaped unhurt. Of
eighty-nine commissioned officers, sixty-three were
killed or wounded, including every officer above the
^ rank of captain except Col. Washington, who, how-
iever, was a colonel only by courtesy. Of the cap-
tains, ten w-ere killed and five wounded ; of the lieu-
tenants, fifteen killed and twenty-two wounded. Gen.
Braddock had four horses shot under him, and while
mounting the fifth received the wound which proved
mortal. Washington bad two horses shot under him.
Sir Peter Halket (next in command to Braddock)
was killed instantly. Secretary Shirley was killed.
Col. Burton, Sir John Sinclair, and Lieut.-Col. Gage
were among the wounded, also Brig.-Maj. Halket,

Online LibraryBoyd CrumrineHistory of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 10 of 255)