George Washington Papers

Memorandum, 30 May–11 June 1755


[30 May–11 June 1755]

May 30th

Upon my return from Williamberg I found that Sir Jno. St Clair,1 with Majr Chapman2 & a Detachmt of 500 Men were gone on had marched to the Little Meadows in ordr to prepare the Roads, erect establish a small Fort Post, and to lay a Deposit of Provision’s there.3 The 2d of June Mr Spendelowe4 discoverd a communication from Fort Cumberland to the Old Road leadg to the crossing of the Yohiegany avoiding Aligany witht xing thoseat Enormous Mountains which had provd so prejudical destructive to our Waggon Horses.5 This intercourse communication was opend by the along a branch of Wills Creek & finished by the 7th, When Sir Peter Halkett6 with the first Brigade of the Line began their its March, and Incampd within a Mile of the old Road; which is abt 5 Miles from the Fort the same Day.erasure.7 This Encampt was first of all calld by the Name of the Grove Camp, but was but afterwards alterd to that of Spendelowe’soe’s Camp.8

This Day also Captn Gates’s Independant Compy,9 the remaining Companies of the Provencial Troops, and the whole Park of Artille[r]y were orderd to hold themselves in readiness to March at an hour’s warng under the Comd of Lieutt Colo. Burton;10 which and they accordingly did so on the 9th followg; and with gt difficulty got up to Sir Peter Halketts Brigade at Grove or Spendeloes Camp the same day.11 The difficulty arising in of thise March, by too gt a from the number of Waggon’s, was the Occasion of ’d a Council being calld so soon as the Genl arrivd of War to be held upon the arrival of the Genl (with Colo. Dunbar’s Regemt)12 the same day at this Camp;13 In which this Council it was determind to retrench the number of Waggon’s and to increase the transportation by Pack the pack Loads, for horses; in order thereto, the Officer’s were calld together, and the Genl represented to them the necessity there was to procure all the horses it was possible for his Majesty’s Service; advisd them to send back such of their Baggage as they coud do witht—and apply the Horses (which by that mean’s woud become Spare ’d)14 to carry provis[i]on’s for the Army, which was accordingly done This they accordingly did with great chearfulness and zeal.15

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. This memorandum appears after GW’s seven letters of 7 June 1755 both in his original letter book and in the one recopied by the clerk.

1Sir John St. Clair (Sinclair; d. 1767), Braddock’s hot-tempered and hardworking quartermaster, was styled a Scottish baronet by his contemporaries although no record of the creation of the title has been found (Cokayne, Complete Baronetage description begins George E. Cokayne, ed. Complete Baronetage. 5 vols. Exeter, England, 1900–1906. description ends , 4 : 301). He was appointed to the much coveted position of deputy quartermaster general for the forces in North America on 15 Oct. 1754. He landed in Virginia on 9 Jan. 1755 to begin securing the supplies and facilities that Braddock’s troops would soon need. Dinwiddie on meeting St. Clair found him “a Gent. of much Merit & great Knowledge in Military Affairs, he has been at most Courts in Europe, & his Observats on them are very judicious” (Dinwiddie to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, 15 Jan. 1755, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). At the time St. Clair was made quartermaster, some English journals reported that he was a lieutenant colonel in the 22d Regiment of Foot and was to rank as a colonel while serving as quartermaster, but he was, in truth, a major in his regiment given local rank as a lieutenant colonel in America.

2Russell Chapman joined the 44th Regiment as a captain upon its establishment in 1741, was promoted to major of the regiment 10 years later, and obtained a lieutenant colonelcy in the Royal American Regiment on 5 Jan. 1756. The following year he asked to be allowed to retire on half pay because of illness. Permission was granted not so much on account of his poor health as his poor performance of duties with the Royal Americans.

3St. Clair left Fort Cumberland on the morning of 29 May 1755 under orders to establish an advanced camp on the Little Youghiogheny (now Casselman) River about 25 miles west of the fort or, if that place could not be reached in 5 days’ marching, at some convenient spot along the way. He took with him two 6–pound guns, 2 Coehorn mortars, 50 wagons containing 8 days’ provisions for 3,200 men, and Chapman’s detachment. The detachment consisted of about 35 officers and 600 men, including 250 soldiers from the 44th and 48th regiments plus John Rutherfurd and Paul Demeré’s independent companies and three companies of Virginia provincials. Difficult terrain hampered the party’s progress almost from the start. It was not until 5 June, after 6 days of marching and 2 of rest, that St. Clair reached Little Meadows, about 3 miles east of the Little Youghiogheny. There on the following day the wagons were unloaded and sent back to Fort Cumberland under escort of Chapman and about 300 men for use in moving the main body of the army. St. Clair stayed at Little Meadows with the remainder of Chapman’s detachment to clear a camp, build a shelter for the provisions, and erect fortifications.

4Charles Spendelow (d. 1755), a lieutenant in the Royal Navy since 1 May 1752, was attached to Braddock’s army by orders of the Admiralty to assist in building floats for river crossings and mapping the area through which the army was to march. He also commanded the detachment of seamen assigned to Braddock. See GW to William Fairfax, 23 April 1755. He was supposed to command a small armed vessel on Lake Ontario later in the campaign but was killed at the Battle of the Monongahela on 9 July 1755.

5Spendelow and six of his seamen accompanied St. Clair’s party on 29 May to assist with road work. Following Nemacolin’s Path, they crossed Wills (now Haystack) Mountain through Sandy Gap about 2½ miles west of Fort Cumberland. This road was so steep and rough that it took all day to get the provision wagons over the mountain. In the process three wagons were destroyed, many were damaged, and numerous horses apparently broke down. See GW to George William Fairfax, 7 June 1755. Faced with these difficulties, Braddock ordered further work done on the mountain route, for according to Robert Orme, “he did not imagine any other road could be made, as a reconnoitring party had already been to explore the country” (“Captain Orme’s Journal,” in Sargent, Braddock’s Expedition description begins Winthrop Sargent, ed. The History of an Expedition against Fort Du Quesne, in 1755; under Major-General Edward Braddock, Generalissimo of H.B.M. Forces in America. Philadelphia, 1856. description ends , 324). Spendelow, having returned with his men to Fort Cumberland on 1 June, went the next day to examine the road with Orme, Ralph Burton, and a midshipman. He soon left the others and arrived alone back at the fort about 2 P.M. with the news that the road builders could circumvent the mountains by going up Wills Creek through its Narrows to the mouth of a tributary (later called Braddock Run) and then up that stream to a junction with Nemacolin’s Path about a mile west of the mountain. A party of engineers and one of seamen began clearing a road along this route on the morning of 3 June.

6Sir Peter Halkett (c.1695–1755) was colonel of the 44th Regiment from 26 Feb. 1751 to his death at the Battle of the Monongahela 9 July 1755. A Scottish baronet, Halkett served in the House of Commons 1734–41 and fought against the Jacobite rebels at Prestonpans in Sept. 1745 as lieutenant colonel of the 44th Regiment, then commanded by Col. John Lee. Halkett was one of several officers captured in that British defeat. He was soon released on parole, the terms of which he scrupulously observed despite some apparent pressure from the duke of Cumberland to violate them.

7Braddock divided his army into two brigades for marching and camping on the road to Fort Duquesne. The first brigade, commanded by Sir Peter Halkett, consisted of the 44th Regiment, the two New York independent companies, three companies of Virginia provincials, and one of Maryland provincials. The second brigade, under Col. Thomas Dunbar, included the 48th Regiment, the South Carolina Independent Company, one company of North Carolina provincials, and four companies of Virginia provincials. Braddock realized that this arrangement was not the best for the initial departure from Fort Cumberland, “as it would be impossible for the whole line with the baggage to move off the ground in one day.” He therefore ordered the main army to march in three divisions to the first camp west of the fort, each division to leave on a different day (“Captain Orme’s Journal,” in Sargent, Braddock’s Expedition description begins Winthrop Sargent, ed. The History of an Expedition against Fort Du Quesne, in 1755; under Major-General Edward Braddock, Generalissimo of H.B.M. Forces in America. Philadelphia, 1856. description ends , 322). It was the first of these divisions, composed of the 44th Regiment and about 100 wagons loaded with provisions, stores, and powder, that Sir Peter Halkett led from the fort on 7 June.

8Grove or Spendelow’s Camp was located on Spendelow’s new road near latter-day Allegheny Grove, Md.

9Horatio Gates (1728–1806), who later gained fame as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, was from 1754 to 1759 captain of one of the four New York independent companies. Born in England, he entered the British army at an early age. Between 1749 and 1754 he served in Nova Scotia, first as a lieutenant attached as an aide to the colony’s governor and later as a captain lieutenant in the 45th Regiment of Foot. Returning to England, he purchased the captaincy of a New York independent company in Sept. 1754. He joined his new command at New York City the following March in time to take it south for Braddock’s expedition. Gates’s company, which consisted of 5 officers and about 90 men, had arrived on the Potomac by 28 April 1755. After that time Braddock temporarily stationed it at the mouth of the Conococheague to help forward stores, ammunition, and provisions to Fort Cumberland. The company itself finally reached the fort on 19 May. At the Battle of the Monongahela on 9 July 1755, Gates, apparently with the vanguard of the army, received a wound in the chest from which he was several weeks recovering.

10Ralph Burton (d. 1768) arranged in the fall of 1754 to join Braddock’s expedition by exchanging his majority in the 2d Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards for the lieutenant colonelcy of the 48th Regiment, a commission of about equal value on the market for purchased commissions. “A man of good sense,” and “an excellent officer” in the opinion of his contemporaries, Burton went on to have a distinguished military career in North America. He rose to the rank of major general in 1762 and was named in 1764 commander in chief of all forces in the province of Quebec and the upper Great Lakes (Dulany, “Military and Political Affairs,” description begins Daniel Dulany. “Military and Political Affairs in the Middle Colonies in 1755.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 3 (1879): 11–31. description ends 29). He returned to his native Yorkshire in 1766.

11Braddock on 7 June ordered Burton to march this second division of the army from Fort Cumberland on the morning of 8 June, but the departure was delayed until the next day. Six provincial companies in all marched with Burton.

12The parentheses were added later by GW.

13Dunbar and the third division of the army, which consisted of the 48th Regiment, the remaining provision wagons, and the packhorses, began marching from Fort Cumberland on the morning of 10 June. Braddock, accompanied by his aides-de-camp and Capt. Robert Stewart’s troop of light horse, departed that afternoon and apparently arrived at Spendelow’s Camp with Dunbar’s division by nightfall.

14Both parentheses were added later by GW.

15The Council of War, which consisted of Braddock and the six field officers of the 44th and 48th regiments, convened, according to Robert Orme, on 11 June, and the general meeting of all the officers occurred at Braddock’s tent about 11 A.M. that same day. The council made only a moderate reduction in the long line of wagons and artillery pieces with which the army was encumbered. “It was agreed,” reported Orme, “to send back [to Fort Cumberland] two six-pounders, four cohorns, some powder and stores, which cleared near twenty waggons. All the King’s waggons [apparently 16 that had come from England with the artillery train] were also sent back to the Fort, they being too heavy, and requiring large horses for the shafts, which could not be procured; and country waggons were fitted for the powder in their stead.” The most effective step taken to increase the mobility of the army was the council’s decision to lighten the loads of the provision and ammunition wagons from 18–20 to 12–14 hundredweight each. The army’s horses had proven to be both too few and too weak in general to pull the more heavily laden wagons with much efficiency even over Spendelow’s road, which was, as Lieutenant Colonel Burton reminded Braddock, a better road than could be expected in the coming days (“Captain Orme’s Journal,” in Sargent, Braddock’s Expedition description begins Winthrop Sargent, ed. The History of an Expedition against Fort Du Quesne, in 1755; under Major-General Edward Braddock, Generalissimo of H.B.M. Forces in America. Philadelphia, 1856. description ends , 331–32). The wagonloads were to be reduced by transferring a large part of the provisions—mostly flour and bacon—to packhorses and redistributing the remaining provisions and ammunition among the wagons. It was to obtain the extra packhorses required as well as additional wagon horses that Braddock appealed to the officers to send all but their most essential baggage back to Fort Cumberland and give up the animals thereby freed for public service. Braddock promised to commend each cooperating officer to the king by name. He set a personal example by contributing with his military family 20 horses. GW gave up one of his horses, but apparently not until several days later. See GW to John Augustine Washington, 28 June–2 July 1755. In all about 100 horses were acquired from the officers, and the remainder of 11 June and all of the next day were used to rearrange loads and horses. For GW’s support of the use of packhorses, see GW to John Augustine Washington, 14 June 1755.

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