Robert Tomes.

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

. (page 7 of 126)
Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 7 of 126)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

aid necessary could hardly be expected
from the indolent prime minister and his
feeble brother.

The duke of Cumberland was indig
nant at the inaction of his government,
and swore that, rather than lose one foot
of ground in America, he would oppose
the enemies of his country in that part
of the world himself. To this prince, in
fact, the colonies were finally indebted
for the aid, such as it was, that the} re
ceived. Little, certainly, could be ex-

i -



pected, when left to himself, from the
duke of Newcastle, " a statesman without
capacity, or the smallest tincture of hu
man learning ; a secretary who could not
write ; a financier who did not understand
the multiplication-table ; and the treasur
er of a vast empire who never could bal
ance accounts with his own butler." Such
a man could be of little assistance any
where, and least of all in a country of
which he knew so little, that, when it was
suggested that Annapolis should be de
fended, replied : " Annapolis, Annapolis !
Oh, yes, Annapolis must be defended ; to
be sure, Annapolis should be defended :
where is Annapolis ?"

After considerable delay, when noth
ing was done, the necessity of doing
something was agreed upon, but how to
do it was the puzzling question. The
duke of Newcastle, in his ignorance, was
reduced to all sorts of makeshifts for his
want of knowledge and capacity. Hav
ing heard of a young officer of the name
of Gates, who had just returned from
America where he had, while on duty

in Nova Scotia, learned something of
American affairs his grace of Newcas
tle sent for him.

On being closeted with the minister,
Gates was asked for a plan for an Ameri
can campaign ; but he pleaded his youth
and inexperience, and modestly declined.
Others were resorted to in the emergen
cy. Pitt, on being asked his views, slyly
answered : " Your grace knows I have
no capacity for these things ; and there
fore I do not desire to be informed about
them." Sharpe, who had been a lieuten-
antrgovernor of Maryland ; Hanbury, the
chief of the Ohio Company ; L ords Towns-
hend and Walpole, had all been consult
ed in turn when, finally, it was found
advisable to leave the whole regulation
of the American difficulty to the duke of
Cumberland. This martial prince w r as
for sending out immediately a military
force to drive the French from the banks
of the Ohio. Two regiments of the line
were accordingly detached at once for
service in Virginia, and the command
bestowed upon General Braddock.


General Braddock. His Life and Character. Braddock s Family. His Sister, Fanny Braddock. Her Love, and Tragic
Death. A Brother s Tribute to a Sister s Memory. An Iroquois. Braddock s Military Career. His Life in Lon
don. Mrs. Upton and her Last Shilling. Braddock s Duel with the Earl of Bath. A Poor Dog ! His Farewell of
a Frail but Constant Friend. Braddock exiled by Poverty. Eecalled by the Duke of Cumberland, and given the
Command of the American Expedition. His Age and Military Character.


" DESPERATE in his fortune, brutal
in his behavior, obstinate in his sen
timents, he was still intrepid and capa
ble," are the few, biting words in which
Walpole sums up the character of the

general appointed to command the regi
ments now about to be sent out to Amer-
Six feet high, of Atlantean shoul-


ders, of good appetite, and a lover of his
bottle, he was equal to any effort of per-




sonal vigor. He was a match for the
best swordsman in the army, and could
drink his whole mess under the table !
He swore copiously, as troopers were
wont to do in those days. Turbulent
and pugnacious, he was never so much
at his ease as in the hurly-burly of war.
Intrepid and loyal, he was always ready
to fight for his king or his great master,
his royal highness the burly duke of
Cumberland, whom he was proud to copy
as the model soldier.

Of Braddock s early history little is
known, although there is sufficient proof
that he was not altogether the low ad
venturer it has been the habit of histo
rians to represent him. His father him
self was a soldier, and possessed of suffi
cient patronage or desert to have reached
the rank of major-general, with a colo
nelcy in the guards. He was known as a
retired veteran officer, living in his old
age at the fashionable town of Bath,
where he died on the 15th of June, 1725.
He was evidently a man of competent
fortune, for on his death he left no less
than six thousand pounds as a provision
for his two daughters, and probably a
much larger sum to his only son, Edward

One of the daughters died early, and
her sister, Fanny Braddock, became pos
sessed of her share of the father s legacy.
Goldsmith, in his life of Beau Nash, has
told the romantic story of Fanny, under

the name of " Miss Sylvia S ," with

his usual sweetness of narrative and gen
tle kindness of sympathy. She was de
scended, he says, from one of the best
families in the kingdom, and was left a

large fortune upon her sister s decease.
Whatever the finest poet could conceive
of wit, or the most celebrated painter im
agine of beauty, were excelled in the
perfections of this young lady. She was
naturally gay, generous to a fault, good-
natured to the highest degree, affable in
conversation ; and some of her letters
and other writings, as well in verse as
prose, would have shone among those of
the most celebrated wits of this or any
other age, had they been published.

But these qualifications were marked
by another, which lessened the value of
them all. She was imprudent. " By
which," says the kind biographer, " I only
mean she had no knowledge of the use
of money." She was arrive d at the age
of nineteen, when the crowd of her lov
ers and the continued repetition of new
flattery had taught her to think that she
could never be forsaken, and never poor.
" Young ladies are apt to expect," wisely
moralizes Goldsmith, in a strain that re
minds us of a passage in the " Vicar of
Wakefield," " a certainty of success from
a number of lovers ; and yet I have sel
dom seen a girl courted by a hundred
lovers that found a husband in any. Be
fore the choice is fixed, she has either
lost her reputation or her good sense ;
and the loss of either is sufficient to con
sign her to perpetual virginity."

Among the number of this young la
dy s lovers was a handsome, good-natured,
easy kind of fellow, of whose name we
can learn nothing beyond its initial " S."
He was " constitutionally virtuous," but
practically it appears quite the contrary,
for he followed the " dictates of every




newest passion." He loved Fanny Brad-
dock, and Fanny Braddock loved him.
The vices of the man (Goldsmith gently
terms them "imprudences") soon ruined
him, and he was thrown into prison for
debt. Fanny Braddock, with the disin
terestedness of a pure and loving woman,
was resolutely bent on freeing him, and
sacrificed her whole fortune in relieving
her lover from his obligations to his cred
itors, and thus restored him to liberty.

S , instead of improving in friendship

or affection, only studied to avoid a cred
itor he could never repay ; for, " though
small favors produce good will, great ones
destroy friendship," says Goldsmith, who
could utter maxims worthy of Solomon,
while he lived as riotously as the Prodi
gal Son.

Poor Fanny, however, was ruined, in
reputation as well as in fortune, by this
profuse generosity to her ungrateful lov
er. Beau Nash, then meeting with her
among some of his friends in London,
prevailed upon her to go with him to
Bath, where the Beau, being paramount
in power, might introduce her to the
best company, and leave it to her merit
to do the rest. People of distinction
courted her acquaintance, and strove to
divert her with the social enjoyments and
fashionable frivolities of the place ; but it
was apparent that a settled melancholy
had taken possession of her mind, and she
moved among, but was not of, the gay
throng. With loss of love, loss of for
tune, loss of friends, and loss of health,
she was finally induced, as a mere refuge
from her own wretchedness, to yield to
the invitation of a Dame Lindsey, who

desired to secure so much beauty, as an
additional temptation to those who re
sorted to her gambling-rooms. Although

* } o o

she yielded to Dame Lindsey s invitation,
Fanny Braddock is believed never to
have been tainted with any other vice
than that of presiding at the hazard-table
for the advantage of others.

She could not long, however, endure
this disgrace, and preferred the humble
condition of a housekeeper in a gentle
man s family, to which her poverty now
reduced her. Here she remained, always
sad, but faithful to her duty. The gen
tleman with whom she lived now went
up to London with his wife, leaving the
children and the house to her care. On
the day when he was expected to return,
Fanny, after the discharge of her daily
household duty, went into the dining
room and wrote these lines upon one of
the window-panes:

" O Death ! them pleasing end of human wo !
Thou cure for life, thou greatest good below !
Still mayst thou fly the coward and the slave.
And thy soft slumbers only bless the brave."

Some visiters coming in, she entertained
them cheerfully, and, on their going out,
she went to the library, where she had
ordered supper. Here " she spent the
remaining hours preceding bed-time in
dandling two of Mr. Wood s (the gentle
man in whose family she lived) children
on her knees. In retiring thence to her
chamber, she went into the nursery, to
take her leave of another child, as it lay
sleeping in the cradle. Struck with the
innocence of the little babe s looks, and
the consciousness of her meditated guilt,
she could not avoid bursting into tears>




and hugging it in her arms. She then
bade her old servant a Good-night, for
the first time she had ever done so, and
went to bed as usual.

"It is probable she soon quitted her
bed. She then dressed herself in clean
linen and white garments of every kind,
like a bridesmaid. Her gown she pinned
over her breast just as a nurse pins the
swaddling-clothes of an infant." She
then took a pink-silk girdle, and, length
ening it with another made of gold
thread, she made a noose at one end, and
tied three knots at a small distance from
each other.

She now sat down to read that passage
in Ariosto s " Orlando Furioso," where
Olympia is abandoned by her bosom
friend, and ruined. Having laid aside
her book, she arose, took the girdle she
had prepared, and, tying it about her
neck, stepped upon a stool, and, throw
ing the end of the girdle over a closet-
door, attempted to hang herself. The
girdle, however, broke with her weight ;
and she fell with such a noise, that a
workman, who was passing the night in
the house, was awoke. He, nevertheless,
thinking nothing more of it, turned over
and fell asleep again. She now made
another attempt, with a stronger girdle,
made of silver thread, and succeeded.
Her old maid next morning waited as
usual the ringing of the bell, and pro
tracted her patience, hour after hour, till
two o clock in the afternoon, when the
workmen, at length entering the room
through the window, found their unfor
tunate mistress still hanging, and quite

Such is the history of Fanny Braddock,
for the most part as related by Goldsmith.
" Hundreds in high life," says he. u la
mented her fate." Her brother, when
he heard of it, remarked, " Poor Fanny !
I always thought she would play till she
would be forced to tuck herself up." Hor
ace Walpole might well say, " Braddock
is a very Iroquois in disposition."

Braddock was early led to a military
life, by its being his father s profession.
He probably entered the army, as is the
custom with " young bloods" in England,
before he had got out of his teens, and
too soon to have acquired much educa
tion. His first commission dates from
the llth of October, 1710, when he be
came ensign in the Coldstream guards.
His promotion, although not very rapid,
was sufficiently so to show that he had
either the command of money or the ben
efit of patronage. He probably had both,
as his father was an officer of high rank,
and withal tolerably rich. The fact of
the son beginning in a crack regiment,
like that of the Coldstream, proves that
his career must have opened with the
advantage of either family, favor, or for
tune. In six years from the date of his
first commission he becomes a lieutenant ;
in twenty years more he is a captain ;
and, in the brief period of seven years,
we find him with the high rank of lieu
tenant-colonel in the line, and second
major in his own regiment, the second
of the Foot-guards.

Braddock had considerable opportuni
ties of seeing service. He had served in
Flanders and Spain, and distinguished
himself at the battle of Fontenoy, where




the French won so brilliant a victory, and
the Guards, of whom Braddock was an
officer, fought so furiously in the action,
and drew off with such cool courage and
steady discipline in the retreat, as to win
for the English soldier almost enough
credit to compensate for his being beaten.
Braddock was promoted, immediately af
ter the battle of Fontenoy, to the first
majority of his regiment, and in a few
months later to a lieutenantrcolonelcy.
He served under the duke of Cumber
land in Scotland, when that "sanguinary"
prince was engaged in his cruel raid
against the Young Pretender and his Jac
obite defenders. Braddock had evident
ly won the esteem of Cumberland, who
sought every opportunity to serve him.
After service in Scotland, and a further
campaign in the Low Countries, peace
was declared, and Braddock returned
with his regiment to London.

While in the capital, Braddock, like
most officers, lived a gay life. He was
known about town as a gallant blade,
reckless of every virtue save that of cour
age, and as prodigal of his money as he
was careless of character. He gambled, as
did all the men of the world of his day ;
and his losses at hazard often placed him
in such strait, that he was tempted to re
sort to means to replenish his purse, if
we can believe some of the stories told
of him, which proved him to be far from
the gallant gentleman that he doubtless
wished to be considered.

It is said that a certain Mrs. Upton,
well known to (ill) fame in London, was
a paramour of Braddock, and we are
told this anecdote of his relations with

her : " One day, Mrs. Upton frankly an
swered a demand for money by pulling
out her purse, with but twelve or four
teen shillings in it. With the keen eye
of an experienced forager, Braddock saw
cause to suspect that this was not all its
contents. Let me see that! he cried,
and snatched it from her hand. In the
farther end he found five guineas. Coolly
emptying all the money into his pocket,
he tossed the empty purse into his mis
tress s lap. Did you mean to cheat me ?
cried he ; and he turned his back upon
the house, to see her no more." This
piece of dirty meanness was freely talked
about in every coffee and club house in
London ; and, finally, Fielding held Brad-
dock up to public contempt, by bringing
him on the stage, as Captain Bilkum, in
the " Covent-Garden Tragedy."* The au
thor of the book just quoted has ferreted
out this interesting literary item, and
gives the following passage from Field
ing s play, in which Braddock s dirty
transaction with Mrs. Upton is supposed
to be alluded to :

" Oh ! tis not in the power of punch to save
My grief-strung soul, since Hecatissa s false
Since she could hide a poor half-guinea from me !
Oh ! had I searched her pockets ere I rose,
I had not left a single shilling in them !"

Braddock s inveterate habits of gam
bling kept him constantly in debt, and
often involved him in quarrels with some
of his fellow-debauchees. It was in con
sequence of some dispute at the hazard
table, or some refusal to settle a claim

* The History of the Expedition against Fort Du Qnesne,
&c., by Winthrop Sargent, M. A. : Philadelphia, 1855. A
valuable work, to which we have been indebted for many of
the facts in this narrative




incurred there, which brought him a chal
lenge to fight from a Colonel Gumley,the
brother-in-law of the earl of Bath. When
they reached the ground and were going
to engage, Gurnley, who had good hu
mor and wit, said : " Braddock, you are
a poor dog ! Here, take my purse ; if
you kill me, you will be forced to run
away, and then you will not have a shil
ling to support you." Braddock refused
the purse, insisted on the duel, was dis
armed, and would not even ask for his

Braddock, as a man of wit and pleas
ure, and, moreover, with the reputation
of a brave officer and a good swordsman,
could have had no difficulty in making
his way in the best society of London.
He, however, suffered in the estimation
of those whose virtues were no better,
but w r hose manners were ; and he conse
quently was shunned by the refined for
the brutality of his conduct and the rude
ness of his behavior. Yet he has found
an apologist, in a fair but frail lady,* with
whom Braddock was an intimate. She
says, in giving an account of her last in
terview with him, on the night before
his setting out for America : " Before we
parted, the general told me he should
never see me more, for he was going
with a handful of men to conquer whole
nations ; and, to do this, they must cut
their way through unknown woods. He
produced a map of the country, saying,
at the same time, Dear Pop, we are sent
like sacrifices to the altar. The event

* George Anne Bellamy, the actress, from whose Apolo
gy for her Life this passage is quoted in the Appendix of
Sargent s " History," &c.

of the expedition too fatally verified the
general s expectations. This great man,"
she adds, " having been often reproached
with brutality, I am induced to recite the
following little anecdote, which evidently
shows the contrary. As AVC were walk
ing in the Park one day, we heard a poor
fellow w r as to be chastised, when I re
quested the general to beg off the offend
er. Upon his application to the general
officer, whose name was Dury, he asked
Braddock how long since he had divest
ed himself of brutality and the insolence
of his manners. To which the other re
plied : You never knew me insolent to
my inferiors. It is only to such rude men
as yourself that I behave with the spirit
which I think they deserve. "

It was doing the handsome thing for
Miss Bellamy, the pretty actress (for she
was the fair apologist), to come to the
rescue of the fame of Braddock ; but we
must not forget that she was a prejudiced
party, as the general had been one of her
most favored and devoted lovers, had
bestowed upon her putative husband the
profitable agency of his regiment, and
left him by his will his whole property,
amounting to something like thirty-five
thousand dollars.

Braddock, as Gumley had said, w T as
" a poor dog," and had got so deeply in
debt, that he was obliged to leave Eng
land. His influential friends, however,
secured him an honorable exile, by ob
taining for him the rank of colonel in a
regiment then at Gibraltar. While there,
his old patron, the duke of Cumberland,
was mindful of him ; and, upon the ex
pedition for America being determined




upon, Braddock was recalled, ele
vated to the rank of major-general,
made commander-in-chief of all the Brit
ish forces on the western continent, and
given the command of the troops now
ordered there for the especial service we
shall recount.

That Braddock was a good soldier in
the European sense, there could be no
doubt. He was now advanced in years
(having reached threescore), and a vet-
eran in service, having served no less
than three-and-forty years as an officer
in the Guards, during which time he had
been engaged in most of the great bat-
ties of his country. He was a martinet
in discipline, and, however loose in pri
vate life, no one could find fault with
him for want of strictness in the field or
on parade. His regiment was alwaj^s
among the most effective in the army,
and had under his command gained un
dying laurels for its steady behavior and
brave bearing in the unfortunate field of

Fontenoy as well as in the cruel triumphs
of Culloden.

At St. James s park, too, in days of
peace and holyday, Braddock s men were
marked and admired as among the most
orderly and soldierly looking of all the
household troops in London. He was
just the man to please the duke of Cum
berland, who, brought up in the school
of the great Frederick, was a devoted
believer in the pow r dered, bewigged sol
dier and the formal tactics then prevail
ing in all the camps of European warfare.
Braddock had undoubtedly courage, and
had besides a most thorough schooling,
under the eye of Cumberland himself, in
those very formalities and methods which
were thought to be the necessary frame
work of all military art. The selection,
perhaps, could not have been better, for
a regular European campaign ; but how
it suited the eccentricities of American
warfare, will be shown in the course of
our narrative by the result.


Braddock in Council with the Duke of Cumberland. Objects of the Expedition to America. The Pioneer of the Enter
prise. Braddock becomes impatient. Sails from Portsmouth, in advance of the Troops. His Companions. The
Departure of the Troops English Opinions of the Expedition. Walpole s Gossip. Arrival of Braddock in Vir
ginia. Consultation with Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia. The Arrival of the Troops. A Poetical Welcome.
The American Governors in Council. Their Governments recreant to Duty. Braddock storms at American Delin
quency. The Little Fire which enkindled the Revolutionary Flame. Fort Du Quesne the Great Object of the Expe
dition. The Young Washington is solicited to join. Becomes an Aid-de-Camp of General Braddock. His Associ
ates of the Camp. A Storming Quartermaster. Sir John St. Clair raging like a Lion rampant. Pennsylvania back
ward in Duty. Benjamin Franklin comes to the Rescue. His Interview with, and Impression upon, the General.
His Opinion of the Expedition. His Ruse. Its Success. Braddock s Coach and State. His Triumphal Entrance
into Fort Cumberland.

BRADDOCK had frequent conferences
with the ministry, and especially with
the duke of Cumberland, who w r as the

master-spirit of the American enterprise.
These resulted in the formation of a plan
for the campaign, the objects of which,




[PART i.

in accordance with the policy of the gov
ernment and the advice of the military
authorities, were

To eject the French from the lands
which they held unjustly in the province
of Nova Scotia.

To dislodge them from a fortress which
they had erected at Crown Point, on Lake
Champlain, within what was claimed as
British territory.

To dispossess them of the fort which
they had constructed at Niagara, between
Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

To drive them from the frontiers of
Pennsylvania and Virginia, and recover
the valley of the Ohio.

It was more particularly, however, the
last object which was reserved for Brad-
dock ; and his instructions were so far
specific in this respect, that he was or
dered to march as soon as possible after
his arrival in America and attack the
French fort of Du Quesne, situated on
the fork of the Ohio.

LieutenantrColonel Sir John St. Clair
was sent out in advance to Virginia, as
deputy quartermaster-general, to obtain
every possible information, and to make
the preliminary arrangements for the fur
therance of the objects of the proposed

Braddock himself, soon after his arri
val in London, hurried to Cork, where the
troops were to embark. He, however,
got impatient at the delay in recruiting
the soldiers and fitting out the expedi
tion, and went to Portsmouth, whence he
, soon after sailed. The general was
on board the Norwich, in company

* Life of Washington, by Irving.

with one of his aids, Captain Robert Orme,
and his military secretary, Mr. William
Shirley, the son of the governor of Mas
sachusetts. Two other vessels, the Cen
turion and the Siren, with a small mili
tary guard and a company or so of the
soldiers, sailed with the Norwich. The

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 7 of 126)