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Edward Braddock

Braddock, Edward, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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