Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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followed closely by the grenadiers, and
flanking-parties distributed along the edge
of the wood which bounded the march.
Next came the working-force, under Sir
John St. Clair. Then marched the main
body with Braddock himself, while the un
appreciated Virginians sullenly brought
up the rear.

The banks of the river along which
the army was now formed rose gradually
from the water in natural terraces, gen
tly sloping from one to the other, until
suddenly bounded by the steep, rocky
wall of the mountain-range. The ground
upon which they halted, immediately 01
the border of the Monongahela, where it
was crossed by the second ford, was for
a fourth of a mile almost level, with an
open, park-like growth of hickory-trees




cover of the trees, and thus wage an
equal battle with the enemy. Braddock
was so maddened by the ill conduct of
his men, or so wedded to system, that he
would not listen to such a proposal, and
insisted upon his soldiers keeping the
ranks. Moreover, whenever he found a
poor fellow covering himself behind a
tree, he would ride up to him, and, stri
king him with the flat of his sword, and
fiercely calling him a coward, drive him
back to the open ground. A company
of Virginians, however, familiar with the
Indian warfare, succeeded in gaining the
cover of a large trunk of a felled tree, and
thence fired upon the enemy with excel
lent effect. The British soldiers, unable
in their fright and confusion to distin
guish friend from foe, no sooner saw the
flashes and smoke of the provincials fire
locks, which were doing such good ser
vice, than they turned their guns upon
them, and thus killed fifty out of the
whole Virginian company of eighty, and
forced the small remnant to fly for their
lives !

Everything had been done that cour
age could do by the officers, hardly one
of whom was now able to keep the field.
Sir Peter Halket had been struck down
soon after arriving upon the ground ;
and his son, a young subaltern, was shot
by his side, and fell dead across his fa
ther s body. Not a single one of the gen
eral s aids, with the exception of Wash

ington, escaped ; all being either wound
ed or killed. Shirley, Braddock s secreta
ry, was shot dead by a musketrball, which
struck him in the head. Orme and Mor
ris, the two aids-de-camp, were severely
wounded, and so early in the engage
ment, that the duty of carrying the or
ders of the general devolved solely upon
Washington, whose escape seemed mar
vellous. He was everywhere, and ex
posed to the hottest fire throughout the
action. He had two horses shot under
him, and four bullets passed through his
coat ; and yet he did not receive a single

Amid the terrible massacre which was
going on about him, Braddock himself
remained in the centre of the field, brave
ly struggling for a long time against fate.
At last, when almost all his officers had
fallen when nearly two thirds of the
army had been slain, and the rest so
panic-stricken as to be hardly capable of
keeping their ranks, in formal obedience
to his command the general saw that
all was lost, and gave the order to re
treat. The retreat became at once a pre
cipitate flight. " They ran as sheep pur
sued by dogs, and it was impossible to
rally them."

Braddock had hardly given the order,
when he was struck with a musket-ball,
which passed through his right arm into
his lungs. He fell immediately from his
horse to the ground.





Braddock prostrate on the Field. The Affectionate Devotion of the Surviving Officers. The Panic of the Soldiers.
Men bribed to bear away the Fallen General. Braddock s Desponding Courage. Demands his Pistols, and threatens
Suicide. The Coolness of Washington in Covering the Retreat across the Monongahela. Braddock still mindful of
Duty. Attempts to rally the Fugitives. His Failure. Washington sent in Advance to summon Dunbar to the Res
cue. Braddock continues the Retreat, lying on a Litter. Kindness of the Dying General. Arrival at Dunbar s
Camp. Its Disorder. Last Words, Death, and Burial, of Braddock. A Retrospect. The French at Fort Du
Qucsne. The Works nt the Fort. The Despair of Contrecreur. The Daring Proposition of a Subaltern. DC Beau-
jeu and his Indian Allies. Do Beaujcu s Effective Appeal. The Cruelty of the Conquerors. A Scene of Ferocious
Barbarity. Dunbar s Fright and Pell-mell Flight. What he did do, and what he might have done. Preparations in
Philadelphia for the Celebration of the Expected Victory of Braddock. Franklin s Wet Blanket. News of the Defeat,
and its Effect upon the Philadelphians. Shirley and Fort Niagara.

IN the general, helter-skelter

1 7 i *5

flight which succeeded the order

to retreat, the wounded Braddock lay
upon the ground, abandoned by all but
those few of his officers who were still
alive and yet able, in spite of their
wounds, to bestow upon him their affec
tionate and faithful services. His aid-de
camp Orme, though disabled, succeeded
in reaching the side of his fallen general,
and called upon the flying soldiers to
come to his aid and bear him from the
field. He ordered; he urged; he begged;
he finally strove to bribe, with a purse
of gold, the panic-stricken fugitives, but
in vain : they continued their flight
throwing away their arms and ammuni
tion, and even their clothes, to escape
the faster from the deadly aim and the
ruthless tomahawk of their savage ene

Orme was almost in despair for the
safety of his general, when Captain Stew
art, the commander of the Virginia light-
horse, came up, and, sharing with the
young aid-de-camp his kind and devoted
sympathy for their wounded chief, offered

his services. They at last succeeded, by
the assistance of some servants attached
to the army, who were bribed by a guin
ea and a bottle of rum to each, in placing
the helpless Braddock in a tumbril, and
thus bore him off the field. The general,
however, at first refused to be carried
away, declaring that he wished to be left
on the spot where he had fallen. He
even became impatient of the death
which was fast coming, and begged the
pistols of a bystander, that he might
thus, like an ancient Roman, put an end,
by suicide, to the torturing reflections of
a despairing courage.

The retreat continued ; the British sol
diers flying in confused fright, and the
Indians following after, howling in fierce
pursuit, and only ceasing their deadly
fire when they stopped to scalp some
prostrate fugitive. The retreat was thus
harassed to the bank of the Monongahela
river, which, however, was crossed with
mitigated suffering, thanks to the cool
ness of Washington, who succeeded in
rallying a small force of men, sufficient
to keep at bay the pursuing savages,



[PART i.

while the remnant of the troops were
hurriedly crossing the ford.

When about a quarter of a mile on
the other side of the Monongahela, al
though most of the soldiers still contin
ued their flight, Braddock succeeded in
bringing to a halt about a hundred men.
The general, though his life was ebbing
fast, and though his pride had been so
mortally wounded by the disgrace of the
day, did not lose his sense of duty. He
still, though prostrate under the hands
of the surgeon, gave his orders, and strove
to hold the position where he was until
he might be reinforced by Dunbar, with
the hope of yet revenging himself for
the defeat he had suffered from the en

Washington was sent accordingly to
Dunbar, with orders for that officer to
hasten on immediately with his troops.
Braddock in the meantime moved his
few men to an advantageous spot about
two hundred yards from the road. Small
parties and sentinels were then posted
about, and it was intended to keep pos
session of that ground until the arrival
of Dunbar. All the men, however, be
fore they had been there an hour, ran
off, leaving the general and his wounded
officers, with none but a small remnant
of the vanguard. It was of course use
less, after this desertion, for Braddock to
remain ; and, trying at first to mount a
horse, but finding himself unable from
his increasing weakness, he w r as obliged
to be carried on a litter. Borne thus,
and accompanied by Orme and Morris,
his wounded aids-de-camp, on litters like
himself, the general begun his ad jour

ney. He had left the field at five o clock
in the afternoon, and the shades of even
ing began now to fall. He travelled
slowly on, with the darkness of night
gathering, to throw an added gloom upon
his saddened heart.

On crossing the second ford of the
Monongahela, Braddock was joined by
LieutenantrColonel Gage, who had suc
ceeded in rallying some eighty men, who
now offered themselves as a timely escort
to the dying general and his wounded
officers. Thus reinforced, they marched
all that night and the next day until ten
o clock in the evening, when they reached
Gist s Plantation. Here they found a
timely supply of wagons, provisions, and
hospital-stores, which had been brought
on from Dimbar s camp by Washington,
who, having fulfilled his commission, was
now on his return to meet the gener
al. After a slight halt for refreshment
at Gist s Plantation, they all proceeded
to Dunbar s camp, some thirteen miles
distant. The first thing done by Brad-
dock, on arriving there, was to send a
sergeant s party back with provisions, to
be left on the road from the Mononga
hela, for any stragglers who might have
lost their way on the route. It is pleas
ing to record this proof of a kindly im
pulse on the part of a man who, like
Braddock, was so often accused of bru

At Dunbar s camp all was disobedience
and confusion. Many of those, princi
pally the Pennsylvania wagoners, who
had fled from the fatal field without ceas
ing a moment their flight, had come in
here, with the sad tidings of the defeat,


which they hurried to communicate in
despairing cries, exclaiming, "All is lost !
Braddock is killed ! Wounded officers
have been borne off from the field in
bloody sheets ! The troops are all cut
to pieces !" Dunbar s camp itself became
infected with the panic, and many of his
men had run away, while those who were
left seemed to have forgotten all disci
pline. The presence of the general se
cured a little more order in the camp,
and he had still hoped so far to reassure
his troops as to be able to march them
again toward Fort Du Quesne. Finding,
however, Dunbar and his men in a con
dition of hopeless disaffection and disor
der from fright, the dying Braddock re
solved to give up all hope of redeeming
the disgrace of the fatal defeat, and sadly
but firmly from his camp-bed, where he
lay prostrate, ordered the troops to retire
to the seaboard. The military stores were
now destroyed, much of the artillery was
buried, the wagons burned, the powder-
casks stove in, and the powder emptied
into a spring of water. Nothing was pre
served but what was actually w r anted for
the march.

Braddock lingered on, though growing
weaker and weaker. His heart seemed
to give \vay before his life-blood ceased
to run; and he was heard to utter, in
accents of despair, "Who would have
thought it !" He, however, occasionally
rallied in spirits, and exclaimed, with a
gleam of hope, " We shall better know
ho\v to deal with them another time."



July 13,

The march having been be
gun, the troops succeeded in
reaching Great Meadows in tolerable or-

der, the general and his wounded officers
having been conveyed to that place on
litters borne by horses. A halt had hard
ly been ordered, and the prostrate Brad-
dock borne to his tent, when the brave-
but unfortunate general died. He, how
ever, retained his self-possession to the
last, and availed himself of the few re
maining moments of his life to thank
those who were about him, and who had
been devotedly kind and faithful to him
during the struggle on the battle-field,
as w r ell as in the agony of death. Wash
ington he particularly signalled out, ask
ing his forgiveness for his irritable tem
per toward him, and, to prove his grati
tude for the young Virginian s fidelity
and friendship, left him his favorite horse
and his negro-servant Bishop.

The last sad duty to the remains of
the general w r as paid, in consequence of
the chaplain being wounded, by Wash
ington, who read the funeral-service over
the grave. The burial was conducted
with the greatest reverence, although the
usual drum-beat and the volley of guns
were omitted, for fear that the watchful
ness of some lurking savages in the neigh
borhood might be aroused, and that they
might thus seek out the spot and dese
crate the last resting-place of the unfor
tunate Braddock. " Whatever may have
been his faults and errors," says Irving,
"he in a manner expiated them by the
hardest lot that can befall a brave sol
dier, ambitious of renown an unlion-
ored grave in a strange land ; a memory
clouded by misfortune ; and a name for
ever coupled with defeat."

Let us now turn back, in regard to


[PART i.

time, and observe the condition and con
duct of the enemy when anticipating the
approach of the English on that expedi
tion against Fort Du Quesne which re
sulted in the disastrous defeat we have
just recorded.

The French fort, which was situated on
the triangular piece of land at the junc
tion of the Monongahela with the Alle-
ghany, had been tolerably well construct
ed, and Avas, with a strong garrison, able
to endure a long and vigorous siege. It
was well protected on one side, and nat-
urally, by the river Monongahela, on the
eastern bank of which it stood ; and its
more exposed points, facing the land,
were fortified with bastions built up of
great logs to the height of a dozen feet,
and filled in with firmly-packed earth
and sod. These bastions were joined by
a strong stockade of piles driven deep
into the ground, and fenced with thick,
transverse poles, between Avhich inter
stices were left for loopholes for cannon
and muskets. A ditch, with a stockade
to support it, surrounded the whole on
the land-side. The inner part of the fort,
containing the magazines and the officers
and men s quarters, was made of heavy
logs ; and its walls were so deeply laid
down in the ground, that the earth al
most reached the top. The roof, which
was the only part exposed, was thickly
covered with clay. The whole fortifica
tion was deemed so strong as to be only
pregnable to hot shot or bombs thrown
upon it from the neighboring hills ; and
here Sir John St. Clair, after his prelimi
nary survey, had proposed to Braddock
to mount his artillery, and thence direct

his attack a plan which, it is supposed,
had obtained the concurrence of the gen

During the spring of 1755, at the time
when Braddock s forces were originally
intended to have reached Fort Du Quesne,
Contrecceur, who was in command, had
only two hundred men, including French
and Indians, to garrison the place. Re
inforcements were urgently solicited from
Canada; and, although there were rumors
which had reached the English camp that
a large force was on its march to strength
en the garrison, none had arrived when
Braddock approached.

As the English drew near, and no word
came of aid from Canada, Contrecceur so
far despaired of defending himself, that
he had almost made up his mind to sur
render without striking a blow. He had,
in fact, prepared the solitary gun, tr
inarch out with, on his being granted
which was evidently intended to be the
extent of his demand the honors of w r ar
on capitulation. Contrecoeur had been
kept well informed of all the particulars
of Braddock s march by means of the In
dians in the French interest, who were
constantly skulking about the British
line ; and it was not until the 8th of July,
when an Indian scout brought in word
that the army was about to ford the Mo
nongahela, that there was entertained the
least hope of successful opposition. It
was at this time that De Beaujeu, a young
and spirited French officer, proposed to
prepare an ambuscade, by which he might
surprise the English forces, and attempt
to stop their progress as they recrossed
the second ford of the Monongahela.




The old French commander shrugged
his shoulders doubtingly as he listened
to his youthful subaltern s hazardous pro
posal. He was, however, so far won over
by the urgent enthusiasm of the young
officer, that he consented, provided he
could get volunteers for his rash enter
prise. De Beaujeu took his commander
at his word, and submitted the plan to
the garrison. The whole, to a man, im
mediately declared themselves ready to
join him.

The Indians, however, were more back
ward, and said to young Beaujeu, taunt
ingly, after he had laid before them his
plans : " We are only eight hundred men,
and you ask us to attack four thousand
English !" They then told him plainly
that what he had said showed he had no
Reuse. They promised, however, to sleep
over the proposition for a night, and give
in their final answer next morning. Ac
cordingly, on the succeeding day, at an
early hour, De Beaujeu started out with
a handful of French, and, arousing the
Indians, asked them whether they were
ready to go. They answered him with
a very decided negative. Beaujeu, who
was prompt in an emergency, and ready-
witted, then exclaimed : " I shall go out
myself against the enemy; I m sure of
victory ! Will you allow your father to
go out alone ?" They then, with one ac
cord, answered the implied rebuke with
a burst of enthusiastic devotion to their
leader, and expressed their willingness to
follow him. We know the result, so fa
tal to Braddock and the English, and so
successful to the French,though it brought
death to the gallant De Beaujeu. Out of

the fourteen hundred and sixty English,
four hundred and fifty-six were killed,
and four hundred and twenty-one wound
ed ; giving a total of eight hundred an
seventy-seven, of whom sixty-three were
officers. The French only had three of
ficers killed and four wounded, and lost
besides some score of Indians and sol
diers. Everything in the way of baggage
had been lost by the English, even to
their personal clothing. Artillery, cattle,
provisions,military treasure amounting to
more than a hundred thousand dollars,
and all the private letters and despatches
contained in Braddock s chest, fell into
the hands of the French.

The conquerors shamed the chivalry
of their country, and their own fame, by
permitting the Indians to glut their sav
age instincts, in the torture of the Eng
lish prisoners. Contrecoeur and his French
garrison are described as having looked
from the bastions of the fort, if not un
moved, still without interference, upon a
terrific scene, which an observer has de
scribed as if K Hell had given a holiday,
and turned loose its inhabitants upon the
upper world !" Here is the spectacle,
with all its details of horror elaborately
wrought up by the fervid pen of an an

"An hour before sunset, the French
and Indians, returning to the fort, halted
within a mile s distance, and announced
their success by a joyful uproar, discharg
ing all their pieces, and giving the scalp
halloo. Instantly the great guns respond
ed, and the hills around re-echoed to their

* The History of an Expedition against FortDu Quesne
&c., by Winthrop Sargent, M. A. Philadelphia, 1855.




roar. Pushing hastily on, the majority of
the savages soon appeared, blood-stained
and laden with scalps, and uncouthly ar
rayed in the spoils of the army. Tall
grenadiers caps surmounted their paint
ed faces, and the regimental colors trailed
disgracefully at their heels. With less
disordered pace the French succeeded, es
corting a long train of pack-horses borne
down with plunder. Last of all, and
while the parting light of day lingered
on the beautiful bosom of the Ohio, ap
peared a small party who had dallied be
hind to make the needful preparations
for the crowning scene of horror. Before
them, stripped perfectly naked, their faces
blackened and their hands bound behind
their backs, with reluctant steps were
driven twelve British regulars, on whom
God s sun had shone for the last time.

u Delirious with excitement, their bar
barous conquerors could hardly wait for
the tardy night., to consummate their un
hallowed joy. A stake was at once sunk
on the opposite bank of the Alleghany,
whither the crew repaired ; the prisoners
lost in dumb sorrow at the surprising fate
which they now began to comprehend.
Here, one by one, they were given to
the most cruel and lingering of deaths.
Bound to the post under the eyes of their
remaining comrades and of the French
garrison, who crow T ded the ramparts to
behold the scene, they were slowly roast-
ed alive ! Coals from an adjacent fire
were first applied to various parts of the
victim s person. Sharp splinters of light,
dry pine-wood were thrust into his flesh,
and ignited, to consume and crackle be
neath the skin, causing the most exquis

ite tortures. His trunk was seared with
red-hot gun-barrels ; blazing brands w r ere
thrust into his mouth and nostrils ; boil
ing whiskey was poured in flames down
his throat; and deep gashes made in his
body, to receive burning coals. His eye
balls were gradually consumed by the
thrusts of pointed sticks or the applica
tion of a heated ramrod ; and the warrior
was prized the most highly who could
farthest prolong sensibility in his prey,
and extract a renewed cry of anguish
from the wretch who had almost ceased
to suffer his weary soul hanging upon
his trembling lips willing to take its
leave, but not suffered to depart ! The
last expedient was generally to scalp the
poor creature, and on his bare, palpita
ting brain, flash gunpowder or throw a
handful of live embers ! . . . . The horrors
of this night endured till dawn."

After Braddock s death, Colonel Dun-
bar, who had succeeded to the chief com
mand, seemed to have lost all self-posses
sion, and, without regard to duty or to
the consequences of its neglect, began
and continued one of the most disgrace
ful retreats on record. If he had made
a stand upon the frontier, and reassured
his troops, it would not have been diffi
cult, with reinforcements from the prov
inces, to have again marched upon Fort
Du Quesne ; and probably, with the ben
efit of the experience of Braddock s dis
astrous faults, the English would have
struck a successful blow, as the enem}^
though cheered by their unexpected vic
tory, were awaiting in timid anxiety an
other attack, against which they were ill
prepared. Dunbar himself, however, was



panic-stricken, and had no control over
his men. He was despised by his own
soldiers for his cowardice ; and, as they
neither feared nor respected, they would
not obey him. The consequences showed
themselves in the retreat, in which the
soldiers, loosened from all control, wan
dered at their will over the country, and
devastated it with a wantonness which
left its inhabitants nothing to dread from
an enemy.

The provinces were not prepared to
hear of Braddock s defeat. They were,
in fact, so confident of victory, that in
Philadelphia they had begun to prepare
for its celebration. The preliminary sub
scription had even begun to circulate,
when the shrewd Franklin threw the wet
blanket of his prudence upon the scheme,
and effectually put out the kindling en
thusiasm of his fellow-citizens. " I looked
grave," Franklin writes, in his own ac
count of the premature affair, " and said
it would, I thought, be time enough to
prepare the rejoicing when we knew we
should have occasion to rejoice. They
seemed surprised that I did not immedi
ately comply with their proposal. Why,
the devil ! said one of them, you surely
don t suppose that the fort will not be
taken? I don t know that it will not
be taken ; but I know that the events of
war are subject to great uncertainty. "

Governor Morris, who, while on the
frontier, supervising the construction of
the Pennsylvania road, had learned the
melancholy news, hastened to Philadel
phia to carry it, but on his arrival was
insulted for venturing to give out that
General Braddock was defeated ! The

people began, however, to suspect
truth when the frightened fugitives came
in, one after another, and told with trem
bling lips the story of the disaster. And
yet they were not finally persuaded of

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