John Fanning Watson.

Annals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; online

. (page 18 of 74)
Online LibraryJohn Fanning WatsonAnnals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; → online text (page 18 of 74)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

on the 7ih ult.. Sir John St. Clair marched in advance wiih six
hundred men from Wills' creek, and two days after, the whole army
followed, — through the worst roads in the world. Ten days after,
they arrived at the Little meadows, where the whole camp was
encircled by abatis, and halted three days; from thence they marched
for this place. Col. Dunbar was placed in the rear with provisions
and ordnance stores, and eighty wagons.

The minutes of council of the 21th of July, 1755, state that an
express arrived, bringing a letter from Captain Robert Orme to
Governor Morris, dated at Fort Cumberland, July 18th, 1755. from
which I give these extracts, to wit: " I am so ill by the wouna, that
I have employed Captain Dobeon to write the present letter for me.
I write now, because every superior ofilcer, whose business it was to
have written concerning disaster, was either killed or wounded." [He
was himself an aid-de-camp to Gen. Braddock.]

^ On the 9ih instant, we passed and repassed the Monongahela, by
advancing first a party of three hundred men; then a second party
of two hundred men ; the general, with the column of artillery and
the main body, passed the river the last time about one o'clock. As
soon as the whole (twelve hundred men) had got on the fort side,
(seven miles distant,) we heard a very heavy and quick fire in our
front; we immediately advanced to sustain them ; but the aforesaid
idvance of five hundred men gave way and fell back upon us,
lausing much contusion, and struck so great p panic among our meo
Vol. II.— S i:^*

Digitized by


138 Pemisylvania Inland. — Pittsburg.

that no mililary expedient could avail to recover them. The men
were so extremely deaf to the exhortations of (be general, and the
officers^ (hat theyjired atoay^ in the most irregvlar manner^ all their
ammunition^ and then ran of. [This is a different version from
the common idea, for here they took their oion way of firing, but in
panic ; and besides, what else could they do when they had no more
ammunition left?] Leaving to the enemy the artillery, ammunition^
provision, and baggage ; nor could they be persuaded to stop until
tiiey got as far as Guest's plan(a(ion, and there, only in part ; many
of them proceeding as far as Col. Dunbar's party, which loy six
miles this side. The ofScers were absolutely sacrificed by their
unparalleled good behaviour ; adtvaficing sometimes in bodies^ and
sometimes separately^ hoping by such example to engage the soldiers
to follow them, but to no purpose. The general had five horses
killed under him, and at last received a wound through his right
arm into his lungs, of which he died, the 13th instant Mr. Wash-
ington had two horses shot under him, and his clothes shot through
in several places, behaving the whole time with the greatest courage
and resoludon. Gen. Braddock, having found it impracticable to
advance with (he whole convoy from the Litde meadows, (herefore,
went forward with the above twelve hundred men ; leaving Colonel
Dunbar with (he main body behind, with orders to join him as soofi
as possible. Happy it was that this disposal of them was made, else
we had s(arved, or fallen by (he enemy — as numbers would not have
been useful." [They had along "a detachment of sailors" from (he
fleet! The fight '' lasted three hours," — so said many witnesses.
The wagoners and pack-horse men made a quick retreat, especially
from Dunbar's regiment. I saw a list of a dozen deserters from
Bmddock's army before the defeat, and the list declared, (hat some
of them exposed his fewness of (he advance number, and also his
bad appointments; thereby intending to encourage the assault of the
French and Indians. Their names were given.]

A letter from Col. James Burd, employed by the province to
direct the opening of the military road for Braddock's army, dated
25(h July, 1755, says, '^ We received an express from Governor Jones,
from Fort Cumberland, giving us an account of Gen. Braddock's
defeat and death, &c. Whereupon I went on there to confer with
Col. Dunbar, and to (ake his orders, &c. He told me, at dinner,
(he facts in the case of the batde, &c., so that I might communicate
them to your honour, to wit : A small body of French and Indians,
say five hundred, and no more was ever on the ground, discovered
on the 9(h instant by the guides at a small run, called Frazier's run,
seven miles this side of Fort du Quesne, being on the side of a hill
on the Monongahcla. Information was immcdia(ely given, when
the general marched the troops and formed them. The battle began
at noon day, and lasted three hours. The enemy kept behind trees
and logs of wood, and cut down our trooj^v as fast as they could
advance. The soldu^rg then insisted much to be allowed to take tc

Digitized by


Pennsylvania Inland. — PiUsbttrg. 132

the trees, which the general denied, and stormed much, calling them
cowards, and even went so far as to strike them with iiis own«word
for attempting the trees. Our flankers, and many of our soldiers,
that took to the trees, were cut ofl* from (by) the fire of our own line,
as they fired their platoons wherever they saw a smoke or fire. The
one half of the army engaged never saw- the enemy ; paiticularly
Captain Waggoner, of the Virginia forces, who marched eighty men
up to take possession of a hill ; on the top of the hill there lay a
laige tree of five feet diameter, which he intended to make a bul-
wark of. He marched up to the log with the loss only of three men
killed, and all the time, his soldiers carried their firelocks shouldered ;
when they came to the log they began to fire upon the enemy ; but
as soon as their fire was discovered by our line, they fired from our
line upon him, so that he was obliged to retreat down the hill, and
brought ofiT with him only thirty of his men out of eighty. And in
this manner were our troops chiefly destroyed ! The general had five
horsea killed under him, and was at last shot through the belly, and
is buried across the road. His papers, and jS75fiO0 in money, are
all fallen into the hands of the enemy. The loss in killed and
wounded is seven hundred, and aboct foity oflScers. CoL Dunbar
retreated with fifteen hundred eflfective men. He destroyed fifty
thousand pounds of powder, all his provisions, and buried his mortara
and shells, ice. He had no horses with which to bring oflT any thing."

Another account from Winchester, Yiiiginia, says, the Virginia
officers and troops behaved like men, and died like soldiers. Out of
three companies scarcely thirty men came out of the field ! Captain
Pey^onay, and all his officers, were killed! Captain Poison was
killed, and his company nearly all shared the same fate, — for otily
one escaped ! Captain Stewart, and his light-horse, behaved gallantly,
having twenty-five of his twenty-nine men killed !

A list of killed and wounded says, 456 killed, 421 wounded, 683
safe, total 1460 ^' in action at FVazer*8 plantation^ the 9ih July."
What seemd^ remarkable is, that all the wagoners from Lancaster and
York counties returned home but two! Col. Dunbar got safe to
Philadelphia, and encamped at Society hill, («. e. Southwark,) i>n
the 1st of September, 1755.

September 6th, 1755, it is published that the Yiiginia troops are
to be increased to one thousand men, ^^ under Col. Washington."

Old William Butler, of Philadelphia, whom I saw in May, 1833,
in his hundred and fourth year, and who had been in the Braddock
expedition, told me he was twenty-four years of age at the time he
joined the Pennsylvania Greens, (faced with buflT,) in Philadelphia.
They were joined by the Jersey Blues, faced with red. The whole
combined force was encamped in the woods then along Fifth street
from Race street southward. The whole expedition of twenty-five
hundred men passed through Germantown, and arrived the third day
at the present Reading, where they divided and took different routes ;
while there at night, could see the light oi the Indian fires on the

Digitized by


140 Pefinsylvania Inland. — PUtsbttrsr*

mountains near them. They crossed the Schuylkill four times
before getting to the mouth of the Little Schuylkill. From thence
they cut their way through the '^ Pine swamp," so called, and made
corduroy roads for the wagons; while there could hear wolves and
bears; went thence to fort Augusta and Shamokin. That must
have been one of the routes of that day, because C. F. Post, in his
journal, says he went by that route to Fort du Quesne in 1758.
They had Indian guides and followed their leadings towards Fort
du Quesne.

At the time of the action, he was just off duty, near to Wash-
ington's lent. Near there, he saw Generals Braddock, Forbes and
Grant talking, and Braddock caUing out to Captain Green, to clear
the bushes ahead, by opening a range with nis artilleiy. Then
Washington came out, put his two thumbs up into the arm pits of
his vest, made a little circle, and came into their presence, and said,
^^ General, be assured, if you even cut away the bushes, your enemy
can make enough of them artificially to answer their purposes of
shelter and concealment ; it will not answer." Braddock upon hearing
this, turning to his officers, said, sneeringly, ''What think you of this,
from a young hand — from a beardless boy!" — then but twenty-two
years of age. I did not pursue this conversation any further on this
point. He did not know of Braddock's having a white handkerchief
tied over his hat He was a great user of snuff, loose in a pocket !
a man of middle stature and thick set

On 23d December, 1833, 1 again saw William Butler, quite well
still, arul gleaned the following additional facts.' Generals Forbes
and Giant did airive at Philadelphia, but Colonel Dunbar, a Scotch-
man, arrived at Baltimore. \Vashington had the chai]ge of four
hundred riflemen. The columns of the Pennsylvania and New
Jersey lines, went in a more northern road, than the British division
of regulars, after they divided at Reading. I noticed that he did not
now seem to remember Colonel Grum, of the Viiginia troops, as
being colonel over Major Washington — said Washington was tall,
"lim and beardless — his uniform was blue and cocked hat I
questioned when they joined again It was but two days before the
battle. The lines were never in same track — were a day's march
off— cut their own roads and made bridges; but chiefly went by
Indian guides and Indian tracks. I asked him particularly itAq
killed Braddock, and ho answered prompdy one Fmocetty brother of
one whom Bi-addock had just killed in a passion ; this last, who killed
Braddock, was in the ranks as a non-commissioned officer; the former
was a brave major or colonel, and by birth an Irishman. The
soldier shot Braddock in the hejck^ and this man, he said, he saw
again in 1830, at or near Carlisle, where he was for three months,
ai the sickness and death of his daughter. His family confirmed
this fact His wife was by, aged eighty-three years — married sixty
years I see, too, that I have preserved a Millerstown Gazette notice

Digitized by


PeJinsylvania Inland. — Pittsburg. 141

in 1830, of the above meeting, and the name of Fawccit is there
given also — a strong coincidence. Millerstown is near Carlisle.

The Millerstown Gazette, of 1830, speaks of the aforenamed Butler
being there, and being in company with an aged soldier in theii
town, who had also been in Braddock's defeat, and that these two
old soldiers concurred in saying that Braddock was shot by Fawcett.

A writer in the Christian Advocate — a minister, writing from the
place, says " the old man died at the age of one hundred and fourteen
years in 1828, who killed Braddock," and at same time, he confirms
the other fact, of his brother being killed by Braddock, He lived
at Laurel hill.

It is said that when the officers of Braddock's broken army got to
Philadelphia, and rested there for a season, they were cruelly
severe to their men, giving vent to their spleen and chagrin by beat-
ing the soldiers daily. It was a daily sight to see a dozen a day tied
up and whipped ; and even in the nmks the officers caned their men.

But in addition to the preceding, I may add the information I
received from Billy Brown, a black man, whom I saw at Frankford,
Philadelphia county, about the year 18^26, in the ninety-third year
of his age — possessed of an observing mind and good memory. He
was present in that memorable fight as sen'ant to Colonel Brown, of
the Irish regiment, and was most of the time near the person of
General Braddock. He said his character was obstinate and profane.
He confirmed the idea, that he was shot by an American, because
he had killed his brother. He said that none seemed to care for it:
on the contrary, they thought Braddock had some sinister design,
for no balls were aimed at him ! He kept on foot ^ and had all tfte
time his hat bound across the top and under his chin loitA his waits
handkerchief They suspected that the white emblem was a token
of his understanding with the French. He told me that Washington
came up to him in the fight, and fell on his knees, to beseech him
to allow him to use three hundred of his men in tree-fighting, and
that the general cursed him and said, ^' I've a mind to run you through
the body," and swearing out — ^*' We'll sup to-day in Fort du duesne,
or else in hell .^" I have full confidence in the words of Billy as fat
as they went, because he seemed incapable of intentional fraud, and
was beside a religious man, of the Methodist profession ; but above
all, he had been in after life seven years a servant with General
Washington, and that circumstance must have more deeply im-
pressed the facts as they were^ at their^r.9^ seeing them. Braddock
was shot, he said, through the shoulder into the breast, and liveo
some two or three days. The only words he ever uttered after hi#
fall were: " Is it possible;" — ^^ all is over!"

^^ A letter of Isaac Norris, speaker of assembly, of the date of
November, 1765, to R. Charles, agent of the province in London
says one of the Indian chiefs, afterwards in Philadelphia, before the
governor and council, said, ^' We must let you know it was the pride
and ignorance of that great general. He is now dead, 1^ ut he was a

Digitized by


142 Pennsylvania Inland. — Pittsburg.

bad man when alive. He looked on us as dogs, and would nevei
hearken to our advice, even when we wished to tell him the danger
he was in with his soldiers. For that reason many of our warriors
left him, and would not be under his command."

In connexion with the above, I may add, that I saw the memo-
randum of a letter which *' Major Washington" had wriuen to the
governor of Virginia, saying that the Viiginians behaved biavely, but
nave suffered dreadfull}'. Many of his officers were wounded, and
himself had four buUet holes in his clothes, and two horses shot
under him ! At a later period an Indian chief declared, diat the
Great Spirit must have reserved Washington for something important
in after life, because he had aimed several shots at him without visi-
ble effect

Braddock, aHer his wound, was carried forty miles and buried in
the centre of the road, seven 'miles east of the present town of Union,
and close to the northern side of the National road. The road was
chosen, and the carriages and horses made to make their tracks over
the grave, to prevent its discovery by the enemy. Since that day, it
has never found a friend to give it a more distinguished sepulchre.
The truth is, he was not sufficiently popular. He gave his chief of-
fence to his men by not suflfering them to fire as they saw opportu-
nity, or even when aimed at, but required all firing to be done in
platoons, as has been said.

The Newburyport Herald, of 1842, declares its acquaintance with
Daniel Adams, an old soldier of that place, aged 82, who confirnts
the shooting of Braddock by his own followers. He learned the fact
from Capt. Illsley of Newburv, who told him that he became ac-
quainted with one of Braddock's soldiers soon afterwards, (under Sir
William Johnston,) who was present at the circumstance. He stated
that the principal officers had previously advised a retreat, which the
General pertinaciouslv refused ; that after neartv all the principal of-
ficers had been shot down, he was approached by a captain to renew
the advice, whom he forthwith shot down. Upon seeing this, a
lieutenant, brother of the captain, immediately shot Braddock. Se-
veral of the soldiers saw the act, but said nothing. Braddock wore
a coat of mail in front, which turned balls fired in front ; but he was
shot in the back, and the ball was found stopped in front by the coat
of mail ! The editor pledged himself for the mithfulness of the man
who told the facts.

Col. James Smith, of Bourbon, Kentucky, once an Indian cap-
tive, had been in his early days employed as a province man from
Pennsylvania, to cut a wagon road, ^in a party of three hundred
men,) from Fort Loudon, to unite with Braddock's road near the
Turkey foot, or three forks of Yohagana. He and his companion
being alone, near Bedford, were fireS at; his friend was killed, and
himself token prisoner. The Indians were from Fort du Quesne,
and set out to return thither. When near it they eave the Indian
phout, which was answered by the firelocks of all the Indians and

Digitized by


Pewisylvama Inland, — Pittsburg. 143

Kren^Iu He had there (o run the Indian gauntlet — suffered terribly
thereby, and feli and fainted. When he recovered he found himself
in the Fort, attended by a suigeon. They then exacted of him what
they could gather of Braddock^s position, force, &c. He was then
befriended by an Indian who adopted him, and who soon informed
Mr. Smith that they had daily knowledge of the particulars of the
advance of Braddock. While at the Fort he saw the Indians and
French go off to meet him — they seemed to be about four hundred
men in all, as if enough to encounter the three hundred men before
named. After some time, a rumor arrived to say that Braddock
would be entirely cut off— that they had surrounded his force, and
were themselves completely concealed behind trees and gullies, keep-
ing up a constant fire; that they were falling in heaps, and if they
did not tcAe the river which was the only gap, and so make their
escape, there would not be a man left alive at sundown ! By-and-by,
Indians and French were seen coming in with spoils — such as
caps, canteens, bayonets, and bloody scalps; aAerwards came in
wagon horses, and every Indian man having his bloody scalps. To-
wards sundown a party came in having a dozen prisoners stripped
naked ; these they soon after burned to death on the river bank op-
posite to the fort. From the best information he could gain, there
were only seven Indians and four French killed, while five hundred
British lay dead on the field, besides what were killed in the river
on their retreat. The day aifler the battle the artillery was brought
Co the fort — several of the Indians were seen moving about decked
off in the dress of the British officers and men, most grotesquely

A private letter to Governor Morris from Sir William Shiriey, the
secretary of General Braddock, conveyed by Sergeant Peters from the
frontiers, before the battle, speaks of the general as '' most judiciously
chosen for being disqualified for his service, in ahnost every respect"
^' He may be brave and honest, but I am greatly disgusted at seeing
VI expedition so ill concerted originally in England, so ill appointed,
and so improperly conducted since in America."

Colonel Dunbar, in a letter, says that Braddock had three horses
killed under him, and was at last shot through the belly. He also
daid, that ^' by some mismanagement we had not an Indian with us,
and that General Braddock could not get above eighi or nine to at-
tend him ; from which circumstance he laboured under many incon-

Scarooyady,an Indian chief who had been engaged to assist in the
expedition, said by his interpeter, C. Weiser, to Governor Morris,
that <Mt was the pride and ignorance of that great general that caused
the defeat He looked upon us as dogs, and would not hear any
hing that was said to him by us. We often endeavoured to advise
him, but he never appeared pleased with us, and thai was the reason
that many of our warriors left him, and would not be under his com
mand. They were unfit to fight in the woods."

Digitized by


144 Pennsylvania Inland. — Pittsburg.

The .province however, left to itself, soon showed what it could
do by its own people, — as was evinced in sending out Colonel John *
Armstrong in 1756, with only four companies, viz.: Captains Hamil-
ton, Mercer, Ward and Potter — these, with some frontier volunteers,
made out to reach Kittaning, or Shingass town, only twenty miles
above Du Quesne, (the former aim of Braddock,) and there sur-
prised and destroyed the whole settlement, and rescued many prison-
ers. It was a glorious con&ast to the other inglorious failure.

In 1758, there occurred another joyous occasion under General
Forbes, the British general who made his way out to Fort Du
Quesne with twelve hundred men, without mishap or molestation,
for it so happened, that by the friendly treaties before made at Eas-
ton and otherwise, the Indians had become so detached from the
French interest, as to leave them at the Fort to their own resources.
When Forbes appeared, on the 24th of November, they blew up the
place, and went off to their forts and settlements down the Missis-
sippi. Under a sense of this great event, a day of public thanks-
giving was appointed on the 28th of December, 1758. It was in-
deed a time of most hearty gratulation and cheering.

We may jud^e of the surprise of this unexpected good news, by
the fact, that when General Forbes had advanced as far as Raystown
camp, just one month preceding his triumph, he writes to the Go-
vernor as if he was then at the length of his means, and wanted, as
he said, a supply of twelve hundred men to bcdisposed in necessary
frontier ^rrisons — to be placed in forts, such as at Loyal Hanna,
Cumbenand, Raystown, Juniata, Littleton, Loudon, Frederick,
Shippensburg and Carlisle — " as without these (says he) he could
not secure the frontiers." But before he could be heard of again,
and in the absence of all hostile Indians, behold, he gets to Pittsburg
iind finds the fort abandoned! Truly a lucky general, and a still
more lucky province, to thus find also his calls for intermediate forts
unnecessary \ It was a joyful and happy result for a gready dis-
turbed and apprehensive people.

About the year 1770, the first settlers be^an to settle about Red-
stone Old Fort, on the Monongahela ; where Capt. Michael Cres-
»up made ihe first house of logB. The first emierntion was princi-
pally from Maryland and Virginia; they supposed themselves at the
time, as within the bounds of Vir^iiia, and not of Pennsylvania, as
has since been determined. In 1785, the town of Brownsville was
laid otit at this place, and great was the quantity of boats built there
for the descent of the Ohk> and Mississippi rivers.

Soon stores and houses beean to be built, and then came the want
of merchandise, all of whichy including salt, was brought out on
pack horses. These were generally led in divisions of twelve or
fifteen horses, carrying about two hundred weight each, all going
single file, and being managed by two men, one going before as the
leader, and the other at the tail, to see after the safety of the packs,
&c. These horses were all furnished with bells, wnich were kepi

Digitized by


Pemisylvania Inland, — Pittsburg. 145

from ringing during the day drive, but were set loose at niglit, when
the homes were set free and permitted to feed and browse. The bells
were intended as guides to direct to their " whereabout" in the morn-
ing. These western carriers were at first a great affair to their own-
ers, as a money making concern ; they starting, principally, from
Hagerstown and Winchester, When wagons were first introduced,
great was their hostility to them as an invasion of their rights. The
first wagon load of goods which went west, went by that southern
route (so called) that lay much along the tract of the present Na-
tional road. It was the enterprise of Jacob Bowman, m the year
1789, a merchant who settled at Brownsville two years before — it
was drawn by four hoiBes, and drew about two thousand weight ; the

Online LibraryJohn Fanning WatsonAnnals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; → online text (page 18 of 74)