Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Braddock, Edward

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BRADDOCK, EDWARD (1695–1755), major-general, was son of Major-general Edward Braddock, regimental lieutenant-colonel of the Coldstream guards in 1703. After serving with credit in Flanders and Spaint the elder Braddock retired from the service in 1715 and died on 15 June 1720 at Bath, where he was buried in the Abbey Church. Braddock the younger entered the army as ensign in Colonel Cornelius Swann's company of his father's regiment on 29 Aug. 1710, and became a lieutenant in 1716. He is said to have fought a duel with swords and pistols with a Colonel Waller in Hyde Park on 26 May 1718. Both battalions of the Coldstreams were then encamped in the park. He became lieutenant of the grenadier company in 1727, and captain and lieutenant-colonel in the regiment 1736. Walpole (Letters, ii. 460–2) has raked up some discreditable stories of him at this period of his life, which possibly need qualification; Walpole is, at any rate, distinctly wrong in stating that Braddock was subsequently 'governor' of Gibraltar. He became second major in the Coldstreams in 1743, major in 1746, and lieutenant-colonel 21 Nov. of the same year. His first recorded war service is in September 1746, when the second battalion of his regiment, under his command, was sent to join, but did not actually take part in Admiral Lestock's descent on L'Orient, after which the battalion returned to London. He embarked in command of it again in May 1746, and proceeded to Holland, where he served under the Prince of Orange in the attempt to raise the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom, and was afterwards quartered at Breda and elsewhere until the battalion returned home in December 1748. On 17 Feb. 1763 Braddock was promoted from the Guards to the colonelcy of the 14th foot at Gibraltar, where he joined his regiment, as then was customary; but there is no record of his having exercised any higher command in that garrison. He became a major-general 29 March 1754, and soon after was appointed to the command in America, with a view to driving the French from their recent encroachments. The warrant of appointment, of which there is a copy in the archives at Philadelphia, appoints Braddock to be 'general and commander-in-chief of all our troops and forces yt are in North America or yt shall be sent or rais'd there to vindicate our just rights and possessions.' Braddock, who must have been then about sixty, was a favourite with William, duke of Cumberland, to whom he probably owed the appointment, although his detractors alleged that his sturdy begging for place under pressure of his gambling debts was the real cause. He arrived at his residence in Arlington Street from France on 6 Nov., and left for Cork, where his reinforcements were to rendezvous on the 30th. Before leaving he executed a will in favour of Mr. Calcraft, the army agent, and his reputed wife, better known as Mrs. George Anne Bellamy [q. v.] This lady, a natural daughter of an old brother officer, had been petted from her earliest years by Braddock, whom she calls her second father, and who, she admits, was misled as to her relations with Calcraft (Bellamy, Apology, iii. 306). Delays occurring at Cork, Braddock returned and sailed from the Downs with Commodore Keppel on 24 Dec. 1754, arriving in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 20 Feb. 1755. He found everything in the utmost confusion. The colonies were at variance; everywhere the pettiest jealousies were rife; no magazines had been collected; the promised provincial troops had not even been raised, and the few regulars already there were of the worst description. Braddock summoned a council of provincial governors to concert measures for carrying out his instructions. Eventually it was resolved to despatch four expeditions — three in the north against Niagara, Crown Point, and the French posts in Nova Scotia; one in the south against Fort Duquesne, on the present site of Pittsburg. The troops for the latter rendezvoused, under Braddock's command, at Fort Cumberland, a stockaded post on the Potomac, about halfway between the Virginian seaboard and Fort Duquesne, a distance of two hundred and twenty miles; and after delays caused by what George Washington, then a young officer of provincials and a volunteer with the expedition, termed the 'vile mismanagement' of the horse-transport, and the desertion of their Indian scouts, arrived at a spot known as Little Meadows on 18 June, where a camp was formed. Hence Braddock pushed on with twelve hundred chosen men, regulars and provincials, who reached the Monongahela river on 8 July, in excellent order and spirits, and crossed the next morning with colours flying and music playing. During the advance on the afternoon, 9 July 1765, when about seven miles from Fort Duquesne, the head of the column encountered an ambuscade of French and Indians concealed in the long grass and tangled undergrowth of the forest openings. Flank attacks by unseen Indians threw the advance into wild disorder, which communicated itself to the main body coming up in support, leading to terrible slaughter, and ending, after (it is said) two hours' fighting, in a panic-stricken rout. Braddock, who strove bravely to re-form his men, after having several horses shot under him, was himself struck down by a bullet, which passed through his right arm and lodged in the body. His aide-de-camp Orme and some provincial officers with great difficulty had him carried off the field. He rallied sufficiently to give directions for succouring the wounded, but gradually sank and died at sundown on Sunday, 13 July 1755, at a halting-place called Great Meadows, between fifty and sixty miles from the battlefield. 'We shall know better how to deal with them next time' were his last words as he rallied momentarily before expiring. He was buried before dawn in the middle of the track, and the precaution was taken of passing the vehicles of the retreating force, now reduced to some degree of order, over the grave, to efface whatever might lead to desecration by the pursuers. Long after, in 1823, the grave was rifled by labourers employed in the construction of the national road hard by, and some of the bones, still distinguishable by military trappings, were carried off. Others were buried at the foot of a broad spreading oak, which marks or marked the locality, about a mile to the west of Fort Necessity.

No portrait of Braddock is known to exist, but he is described as rather short and stout in person in his later years. To failings common among military men of his day he added the unpopular defects of a hasty temper and a coarse, self-assertive manner, but his fidelity and honour as a public servant have never been questioned, even by those who have portrayed his character in darkest colours. He was a severe disciplinarian, but his severity, like his alleged incapacity as a general, has probably been exaggerated. The difficulties he appears to have encountered at every step have been forgotten, as well as the fact that the ponderous discipline in which he had been trained from his youth up, and which was still associated with the best traditions of the English foot, had never before been in serious collision with the tactics of the backwoods. Two shrewd observers among those who knew him personally judged him less harshly than have most later critics. Wolfe, on the first tidings of the disaster, wrote of Braddock as 'a man of courage and good sense, although not a master of the art of war,' and added emphatic testimony to the wretched discipline of most line regiments at the time (Wright, Life of Wolfe, p. 324). Benjamin Franklin said of him : 'He was, I think, a brave man, and might have made a good figure in some European war, but he had too much self-confidence, and had too high an idea of the validity of European troops, and too low a one of Americans and Indians' (Sparks, Franklin, i. 140). One of Braddock's order-books, said to have belonged to Washington, is preserved in the library of Congress, and a silken military sash, worked with the date 1707, and much stained as with blood, which is believed to have been Braddock's sash, is in the possession of the family of the late General Zachary Taylor, United States army, into whose hands it came during the Mexican war. In after years more than one individual sought a shameful notoriety by claiming to have traitorously given Braddock his death-wound during the fight. Mr. Winthrop Sargent has exposed the absurdity of these stories. One is reproduced in 'Notes and Queries,' 3rd ser. xii. 5. Braddock had two sisters, who received from their father a respectable fortune of 6,000l., and both of whom predeceased their brother. The unhappy fate of Fanny Braddock, the surviving sister, who committed suicide at Bath in 1739, has been recorded by Goldsmith (Miscellaneous Works, Prior's ed. iii. 294). Descendants of a brother were stated in 'Notes and Queries' (1st ser. xi. 72) some time back to be living at Martham in Norfolk, in humble circumstances, and to believe themselves entitled to a considerable amount of money, the papers relating to which had been lost. No account has been found of moneys standing to the credit of Braddock or his representatives in any public securities.

The accounts of the Fort Duquesne expedition published at the time appear to have been mostly catchpenny productions; but two authentic narratives are in existence. Of these one is the manuscript journal of Braddock's favourite aide-de-camp, Captain Orme, Coldstream guards, who afterwards retired from the service and died in 1781. This is now No. 212 King's MSS. in British Museum. The other is the manuscript diary of a naval officer attached to Braddock's force, which is now in the possession of the Rev. F. O. Morris of Nunburnholme Rectory, Yorkshire, by whom it was published some years ago under the title, 'An Account of the Battle on the Monagahela River, from an original document by one of the survivors' (London, 1854, 8vo). Copies of these journals have been embodied with a mass of information from American and French sources by Mr. Winthrop Sargent, in an exhaustive monograph forming vol. v. of 'Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania' (Philadelphia, 1856). A map of Braddock's route was prepared from traces found still extant in 1846, when a railway survey was in progress in the locality, and first appeared in a Pittsburg periodical, entitled 'Olden Time' (vol. ii.) An excelexcellent account of Braddock's expedition and of the events leading up to it is given in Parkman's 'Montcalm and Wolfe,' vol. i. Some brief military criticisms were contributed by Colonel Malleson to the 'Army and Navy Magazine,' March 1885, pp. 401, 404-5. The Home Office and War Office Warrant and Military Entry Books in the Record Office in London contain references to the expedition, but none of any special note.

[Mackinnon's Origin of Coldstream Guards (London, 1832), i. 388-9, vol. ii. Appendix; Home Office Military Entry Books, 10-27; Cannon's Hist. Record 14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot; Carter's Hist. Record 44th (East Essex) Foot; Walpole's Letters (ed. Cunningham, 1856), ii. 460-2; Apology for the Life of G. A. Bellamy (5 vols., London, 1786), iii. 206; Beatson's Naval and Military Memoirs, vol. iii.; Hume and Smollett's Hist. (1854), ix. 296 et seq.; Memoirs Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania, vol. v.; Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe (London, 1884); Army and Navy Mag. liii. 385-405; American Magazine of History, ii. 627, vi. 63, 224, 462, viii. 473, 500, 502; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Report, i. 226 a; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 11, 562, xi. 72. 3rd ser. xii. 5.]

H. M. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.35
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
153 i 11 Braddock, Edward: for 1720 read 1725
154 ii 10 for United States army read president of the United States