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Edward Braddock

Edward Braddock

Edward Braddock (1695-1755) was commander in chief of the British forces in North America during the French and Indian War of the 18th century.

Little is known of Edward Braddock's early life. In October 1710 he purchased an ensign's commission in the Coldstream Guards, his father's regiment; in 1716 he became lieutenant of the grenadier company; in 1734 he was captain lieutenant with an army rank of lieutenant colonel; in 1743 he was second major with an army rank of colonel; and in 1745 he became colonel of the regiment. He saw little action when he accompanied the 2d Battalion to Ostend, Belgium, in July 1745. That same year he served with the Duke of Cumberland in the suppression of the Jacobite rebellion. Two years later he commanded the 2d Battalion of the Coldstream Guards at Lestock's and was with St. Clair in the abortive attempt on Port L'Orient, France. Subsequently he was employed under the Prince of Orange at Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands. In 1753 he was appointed colonel of the 14th Regiment and joined his command at Gibraltar. Adored by his men, he was almost brutal in his relations with civilians and became the butt of satires by both Henry Fielding and Horace Walpole.

Promoted to major general in 1754, Braddock arrived in Alexandria, Va., in February 1755 as commander in chief of British forces in North America. His instructions bestowed more power upon him than ever held by any military officer in America. But his efforts were hampered by a lack of money, although Governor Dinwiddie, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin made material contributions.

With the objective of capturing Ft. Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio River, Braddock commanded a force of 1, 400 British regulars and nearly 700 colonial militia (whom he hated). Progress was slow as his column moved from Ft. Cumberland, for Braddock insisted upon using wagons rather than pack animals and so a new road had to be constructed. After 30 miles of a 110-mile march, Braddock accepted Washington's advice and left his heavy transport at Little Meadows, guarded by a regiment of his regulars; he pushed on ahead for fear the French would receive reinforcements. Poor relations with Native Americans left him open to surprise.

After crossing the Monongahela River on July 9, 1755, his advance guard was ambushed by 900 French, Canadians, and Native Americans under Daniel Beaujeau. Braddock refused to heed the advice of provincial officers to allow his men to take cover, instead holding them in the British traditional column formation. Exposed to an enfilading fire from the hidden enemy, the British regulars fled. It was only because the hostile natives stopped to take scalps that the British were able to gain the protection of their rear guard and retreat to Ft. Cumberland. Of the 1, 459 soldiers under Braddock, 977 were killed or wounded. The 89 officers suffered 63 casualties. Braddock had four horses shot from beneath him before he suffered mortal wounds in the arm and lungs. Four days later he died at Great Meadows. His last words, according to tradition, were, "We shall better know how to deal with them another time."

Further Reading

Lee McCardell, Ill-starred General: Braddock of the Coldstream Guards (1958), a sympathetic treatment, attempts to show that Braddock has been much maligned. An account of Braddock's American campaign is in Hayes Baker-Crothers, Virginia and the French and Indian War (1928). The campaign is also covered in Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington, vol. 2 (1948).

Additional Sources

McCardell, Lee., Ill-starred general: Braddock of the Coldstream Guards, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986. □

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Braddock, Edward

Edward Braddock, 1695–1755, British general in the French and Indian War (see under French and Indian Wars). Although he had seen little active campaigning before 1754, Braddock was reputed to have a good knowledge of European military tactics and was noted as a stern disciplinarian. He was promoted to major general in 1754 and early in 1755 arrived in Virginia as commander in chief of the British forces in North America against the French. His immediate objective was the French stronghold at the forks of the Ohio (see Fort Duquesne). With some 700 colonial militiamen, whom he regarded disdainfully, and over 1,400 British regulars, he moved across the Alleghenies from Fort Cumberland (now Cumberland, Md.), building a road (the foundation of the National Road) as he went. The march was so slow, however, that he feared the French would reinforce Duquesne before he could reach there. Adopting the suggestion of one of his aides-de-camp, George Washington, he left the wagons behind him with one of the two British regiments and pushed ahead with about two thirds of his total force. While crossing the Monongahela River, Braddock was met (July 9, 1755) by a force of not more than 900 men (a few French, some Canadians, and many Native Americans) under Daniel Beaujeu, who had already learned of the advance. The British regulars, as unfamiliar with Native American-style fighting as their commander (although both had been given fair warning by the colonials), bolted from their column formation under the steady fire from a ubiquitous enemy safely concealed in ravines and behind trees. The affair turned into a bloody rout. Since the Native Americans paused to collect scalps and other trophies of war, the demoralized troops were able to rejoin the rear guard and both retreated safely to Fort Cumberland. Of the 1,459 actively engaged, 977 were killed or wounded, including 63 of the 89 officers, who—unlike the soldiers—fought bravely. Braddock himself had four horses shot from under him before he was mortally wounded. He died four days later at Great Meadows and was buried there, near the site of Uniontown, Pa.

See D. S. Freeman, George Washington, Vol. II (1948); biography by L. McCardell (1958).

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Braddock, Edward

Braddock, Edward (1695–1755).British Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock had served in Flanders and commanded at Gibraltar, but had no battle command experience when sent with two understrength regiments to repel French “encroachments” in North America. From his arrival in Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 20 February 1755, this gruff but humane disciplinarian led the colonial governors in organizing an unexpectedly ambitious campaign involving four independent expeditions against Fort Beauséjour, Fort St. Frédéric, Fort Niagara, and Fort Duquesne.

Braddock personally, and efficiently, commanded the expedition to Fort Duquesne in western Pennsylvania in the face of major transport shortages, minimal Indian support, and mountainous terrain that hindered movement of his heavy artillery. His army advanced 150 miles from Alexandria to Little Meadows; then Braddock led a force of 1,450 that reached the Monongahela River on 8 July. The next day, this column was surprised, completely disorganized, and defeated by a force of 783 French, Canadians, and Indians. Severely wounded after having several horses killed under him, Braddock died four days later. Although not personally culpable for the defeat, he came to bear the opprobrium that accompanied this disaster.
[See also Braddock's Defeat; French and Indian War.]

Bibliography

Lee McCardell , Ill‐Starred General, 1958.

Ian K. Steele

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Braddock, Edward

Braddock, Edward (1695–1755) British general in the French and Indian Wars. As commander in chief of the British forces in North America, Braddock led the attack on the French stronghold of Fort Dequesne (1755). Progress was slow and, on the advice of George Washington, Braddock led an advance party. Ambushed by Native Americans, the party was routed and Braddock killed.

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