General Edward Braddock

 

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General Edward BraddockBraddock, EDWARD, military officer; born in Perthshire, Scotland, about 1695; entered the army as ensign in the Cold-stream Guards; served in the wars in Flanders; received a commission as brigadier-general in 1746, and major-general in March, 1754. He arrived in Virginia in February, 1755, and, placed in command of an expedition against Fort Duquesne, began his march from Will's Creek (Cumberland, Maryland), June 10, with about 2,000 men, regulars and provincials. Anxious to reach his destination before Fort Duquesne should receive reinforcements, he made forced marches with 1,200 men, leaving Colonel Dunbar, his second in command, to follow with the remainder and the wagontrain. On the morning of July 9 the little army forded the Monongahela River, and advanced in solid platoons along the southern shores of that stream. George Washington saw the perilous arrangement of the troops after the fashion of European tactics, and he ventured to advise Braddock to disperse his army in open order and employ the Indian mode of fighting in the forests. The haughty general angrily replied, "What! a provincial colonel teach a British general how to fight!" The army moved on, recrossed the river to the north side, and were marching in fancied security at about noon, when they were suddenly assailed by volleys of bullets and clouds of arrows on their front and flanks. They had fallen into an ambush, against which Washington had vainly warned Braddock. The assailants were French regulars, Canadians, and Indians, less than 1,000 in number, under De Beaujeu, who had been sent from Fort Duquesne by Contrecoeur (see DUQUESNE, FORT), and who fell at the first onslaught. The suddenness of the attack and the horrid war-whoop of the Indians, which the British regulars had never heard before, disconcerted them, and they fell into great confusion. Braddock, seeing the peril, took the front of the fight, and by voice and example encouraged his men. For more than two hours the battle raged fearfully. Of eighty-six English officers sixty-three were killed or wounded; so, also, were one-half the private soldiers. All of Braddock's aides were disabled excepting Washington, who, alone unhurt, distributed the general's orders. Braddock had five horses shot under him, and finally he, too, fell, mortally wounded. Competent testimony seems to prove that he was shot by Thomas Faucett, one of the provincial soldiers. His plea in extenuation of the crime was self-preservation. Braddock, who had spurned the advice of Washington about the method of fighting Indians, had issued a positive order that none of the English should protect themselves behind trees, as the French and Indians did. Faucett's brother had taken such a position, and when Braddock perceived it, he struck him to the earth with his sword. Thomas, on seeing his brother fall, shot Braddock in the back. The provincials fought bravely, and nearly all were killed. The remnant of the regulars broke and fled when Braddock fell. Washington, who was left in chief command, perceiving the day was lost, rallied the few provincial troops, and, carrying with him his dying general, gallantly covered the retreat. The enemy did not pursue. The British left their cannon and their dead on the battlefield. Three days after the battle, Braddock died (July 13, 1755) , and was buried in the forest more than 50 miles from Cumberland. Washington, surrounded by sorrowing officers, read the funeral service of the Church of England by torch-light at his grave. General Braddock was haughty and egotistical, and his private character was not good, he being known as a gambler and a spendthrift.

 

 

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