Braddock, Edward (1695–1755)

Born in January 1695, the son of an officer in the elite Coldstream Guards, Edward Braddock came of age during Queen Anne’s War (1702 1713), hearing of the glories of English arms and especially the duke of Marlborough. Although a commoner, Braddock secured a commission as an ensign in the Coldstream Guards on October 10, 1710. Braddock, who could be peevish and quick-tempered, developed a mild reputation as a profligate young officer, partaking of the vices of Covent Garden and developing a lifelong addiction to snuff. As he progressed through the ranks, however, first as a lieutenant colonel in the Coldstream Guards and later as a colonel in the 14th Foot, the brown-haired, portly officer was generally regarded as a noted administrator, effective disciplinarian, and dedicated soldier who possessed impressive personal courage and honesty. Braddock spent nearly all of his unremarkable, but unblemished, forty-four-year career serving in garrison duty in London, Flanders, and Gibraltar. In 1754, he finally earned a chance to achieve military distinction when William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, promoted the politically reliable colonel to major general and appointed him commander of all British forces in North America. Cumberland ordered Braddock to drive the French from Fort Duquesne in the Ohio Valley before reducing the forts at Niagara, Ontario, Champlain, Crown Point, and Nova Scotia. Braddock sailed for Virginia on December 22, 1754, arriving there on February 20, 1755, three weeks ahead of two regiments of British regulars, the 44th and 48th Foot, who were to serve as the backbone of his expeditionary force. Braddock spent the next several weeks trying to gather supplies and recruit colonial troops to join his force. His inflexibility and lack of imagination hindered his preparations. He refused to deviate from the letter of his orders. He commanded rather than cajoled colonial governors, took a dim view of colonial volunteers, and did not behave very diplomatically to potential Native American allies. The lack of supplies, transportation, and provincial assistance delayed his march. Finally, on May 30, Braddock’s force, nearly 2,300 strong, marched from Fort Cumberland near the Potomac River toward Fort Duquesne. Progress was slow, as 300 axmen had to hack a road ahead of the main body so that Braddock could drag his immensely heavy 8-inch howitzers and 12-pound cannon, as well as an enormous wagon train of supplies and baggage, through 100 miles of dense wilderness and mountains. Soon, Braddock divided his army into two columns in order to travel faster. General Edward Braddock served as commander of British forces in North America from his arrival in Virginia in February 1755 until his death the following July near Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh) in an early campaign of the French and Indian War. (Brown Brothers, Sterling, Pennsylvania) On July 9, 1755, just on the northern side of the Monongahela River, about 8 miles from Fort Duquesne (in present-day Pittsburgh), Braddock’s flying column of nearly 1,400 men was ambushed by 108 French colonial regulars, 146 Canadian militiamen, and 637 Native Americans. The French forces initially attacked Braddock’s vanguard, led by Lieutenant Thomas Gage (who would later lead British troops to Lexington and Concord in April 1775, beginning the Revolutionary War). Gage’s troops recoiled and collided with those behind them. Braddock sent reinforcements forward, only to see them become entangled with Gage’s troops. Bunched together, the troops were easy targets for the hidden enemies firing from both flanks. Though his men suffered terrible casualties, Braddock insisted on keeping them in line of battle. He knew his regulars were not trained for irregular fighting and feared their reaction if he allowed them to seek cover. Riding up and down the line with his hat tied on with a white handkerchief knotted under his chin, Braddock displayed conspicuous bravery in the fight, having four horses shot out from under him while trying to rally his troops and maintain order. Nearly all of his officers were killed or wounded. Finally a bullet penetrated Braddock’s right arm and pierced his lungs. After his wounding, his men retreated pell-mell back across the Monongahela and toward the safety of the second column, several days behind them. Two-thirds of Braddock’s force had been killed or wounded, while the French suffered only twenty-three killed and sixteen seriously wounded. A number of Canadians and Native Americans also were dead or wounded. Braddock suffered in agonizing pain for four days before finally succumbing to his wound on July 13, 1755. He was buried in the road, and the army and wagons trudged over his grave to obliterate any trace of it in order to keep enemy natives from desecrating it. Braddock had failed in his only field command. His training and traditional sense of warfare had left him unprepared for the type of fighting necessary to succeed in the North American wilderness. Judkin Browning See also: Army, British; French and Indian War; Military and Diplomatic Affairs (Chronology); Military and Diplomatic Affairs (Essay); Queen Anne’s War. Bibliography Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 1766. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Kopperman, Paul E. Braddock at the Monongahela. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977. McCardell, Lee. Ill-Starred General: Braddock of the Coldstream Guards. Revised. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986. Bradford, William (1590 1657) William Bradford was arguably the most important and influential individual in the earliest days of America’s colonial period. A voracious reader from childhood and largely self-educated, Bradford is remembered as a statesman, a pious Puritan, a devout defender of democratic ideals, and a comprehensive historian of life in the New World. His Of Plymouth Plantation, written in a plain style and with a singular regard unto the simple truth, remains one of the best records of life in his time. U.S. Route 40 – Edward Braddock (1695-1755) Edward Braddock British commander Britannica.com Database: Edward Braddock – Assassin’s Creed Wiki – Wikia

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