The Battle of the Monongahela, The Death of Braddock

As a group of nearly 1500 British and Colonial Militia soldiers make their way through the thick forest of what is now Southwestern Pennsylvania, the group met an ambush just after crossing the Monongahela river roughly 10 miles upstream from the forks of the Ohio, where Fort Duquesne sat. The ambush was the work of 300-600 Native American warriors from a variety of tribes and roughly 40 French Colonial troops.

The British forces were on their way to the forks of the Ohio to remove the French fort and set an outpost of their own. Braddock expected the men under his command to follow orders and push forward through the dense forest from Virginia to Pennsylvania. General Edward Braddock lacked command experience. Braddock was influenced by a group of young officers headed by his aide de camp Captain Robert Orme. Orme had served with Braddock in the Coldstream Guards, the regiment in which Braddock had spent most of his service. Braddock expected the men under his command to follow orders and push forward through the dense forest from Virginia to Pennsylvania.

Braddock’s Death, Washington Takes Command –

Braddock’s Campaign had blazed a trail through the forest in a short period of time. Along with the nearly 1500 soldiers also came the supplies for those men, as well as, a Royal Artillery unit of 60 officers and men, six 12 pounders, six 6 pounders, 4 howitzers and around 30 Coehorn mortars. Braddock planned to lay siege to Fort Duquesne upon arrival at the forks of the Ohio.

Braddock and his troops would not make it to Fort Duquesne. After crossing the Monongahela on July 9th 1755, the front of the train encountered a well camouflaged force of Native Americans and French soldiers. A party of some 300 – 600 Indians and around 40 French colonial troops came down the path and attacked the advance party of Lieutenant Colonel Gage and three companies of foot. Firing broke out and the Indians fanned out down the flanks of the army in a horse shoe style attack. Troops began to retreat, clashing up against the troops that were advancing causing a mass of mayhem which the native, French allies continued to fire into. The confusion caused British troops to fire on each other causing a majority of the deaths.

Braddock was shot through the lung and fell from his horse, he was aided by George Washington and Braddock’s Aide-De-Camp, Orme. The troops retreated back across the Monongahela. The troops buried Braddock in the roadway that they had cut through the forest, hiding the place where he was buried so that his body would not be recovered by the enemy.

The artillery pieces and much of the supply train ended up in the hands of the French and their Native American allies and were used against the British and Colonial troops in later battles.

The defeat of Braddock was an embarrassment to the British army and is largely remembered as one of their most notable defeats. Braddock’s defeat, however would lead to the continued rise of a Virginia Provincial officer, George Washington.

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