George Washington Papers
Documents filtered by: Date="1755-07-17"
sorted by: date (ascending)
Permanent link for this document:

From George Washington to James Innes, 17 July 1755

To James Innes

[Little Meadows, Md., 17 July 1755]

To Governour Innis—Fort Cumberland

Captn Orme being confind to his Litter & not well able to write, has desir’d me to acknowledge the receipt of your’s; He begs the favour of you to have the room that the Genl lodgd in prepard for Colo. Burton, himself, and Captn Morris; who are all wounded;1 also, that some small place may be had convenient for Cooking; and that, if any fresh Provn and other suitable necessarys for persons in their infirm condition can be had, that you will be kind enough to engage it. He also begs, that, you will order the present wch was sent by Governour Morris to the Genl and his Family, into the care of Mr A. le Roy the Steward, who is sent on for that, and other purposes.2 The Horses that carry the wounded Gentn in Litters are so much fatiegued that we dread their performance, therefore it is desird, that you will be kind enough to send out 8 or 10 fresh horses for their relief, which will enable us to reach the Fort this Evening. I doubt not but you have had an acct of the poor Genls death by some of the affrighted Waggoners, who ran off without taking leave.3 I am Sir Yr most Obt Servt

Go: W——n

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

Although this letter is dated 15 July 1755 in GW’s letter book, its context indicates that it was written on the morning of 17 July 1755, the day that the wounded officers of Braddock’s defeated army were moved from Little Meadows to Fort Cumberland. The army began a general retreat from Dunbar’s camp on 13 July and 2 days later crossed the Youghiogheny River at Great Crossing, near which a captain’s command of about 70 men was formed to escort the wounded officers on to Fort Cumberland in advance of the main body of the army. This little party, which included GW, camped the night of 15 July on a rocky, rattlesnake-infested ground a few miles east of the Youghiogheny. The next day it marched 16 miles to Little Meadows and on 17 July covered the remaining 24 miles to Fort Cumberland. Col. Dunbar arrived at the fort with the rest of the army 4 days later.

1Captains Robert Orme and Roger Morris were both wounded early in the action on 9 July, Orme in his thigh and Morris, according to one report, “through the Nose” (South Carolina Gazette, 21 Aug. 1755). Lt. Col. Ralph Burton received “an extreme bad wound in his hip” apparently while leading a party of about 100 redcoats in an abortive attempt to take a small but critically important hill on Braddock’s right (Robert Orme to Augustus Keppel, 18 July 1755, in Transactions Am. Antiq. Soc. description begins Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society. 12 vols. Worcester, Mass., 1820–1911. description ends , 1st ser., 11 : 174–75). Despite his wound, Burton tried to rally some of the troops after the army retreated back across the Monongahela River, but with little success.

2On 9 June 1755 Gov. Robert Hunter Morris of Pennsylvania forwarded to Braddock a gift of supplies which the three Delaware counties had furnished for the general’s table as a “small Token of their Regard for him and the Cause in which he is employed.” The supplies consisted of 12 hams, 8 cheeses, two dozen flasks of oil, 10 loaves of sugar, a cask of raisins, a box of spice and currants, a box of pickles and mustard, 8 kegs of biscuit, 4 kegs of sturgeon, a keg of herring, 2 chests of lemons, 2 kegs of spirit, a cask of vinegar, a barrel of potatoes, and 3 tubs of butter (Morris to Robert Orme, 9 June 1755, Pa. Arch., Col. Rec. description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 6 : 414–15). The steward was probably Abraham Le Roy (died c.1765), a Huguenot clockmaker who came to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in the fall of 1754 and by 1757 had settled in Lancaster County.

3First word of Braddock’s defeat and death reached Fort Cumberland about midday on 11 July 1755. It was brought, as GW surmised, by wagoners and other civilian attendants in flight from the army. Most of the wagoners who accompanied Braddock to the Monongahela were near the rear of the column when the battle began on 9 July. Many escaped early in the action by unhitching their horses and riding back to Dunbar’s camp. The next day their tales of disaster helped precipitate a general flight of civilians with some soldiers toward Fort Cumberland despite the efforts of Dunbar’s camp guards to stop them. The incomplete accounts, based largely on hearsay, that these people gave Innes at the fort greatly alarmed but did not fully convince him. He continued to nurse “hopes things cannot be so very bad with us” for 2 or 3 days until authoritative reports arrived to confirm the shocking news (Innes to Dinwiddie, 13 July 1755, in Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 31 : 70–71). One point on which most of the first accounts erred was the manner in which Braddock died. It was said that the Indians killed the general on the battlefield 9 July as he lay wounded in a wagon. He, in fact, died at a camp near the Great Meadows on the evening of 13 July and was buried nearby. “We Buried him,” one soldier wrote, “in two Blankits in the high Road that was cut for the Wagons, that all the Wagons might March Over him and the Army [also] to hinder any Suspision of the French Indiens. For if they thought he was Buried their, they would take him up and Scalp him” (“The Journal of Captain Robert Cholmley’s Batman,” in Hamilton, Braddock’s Defeat description begins Charles Hamilton, ed. Braddock’s Defeat. Norman, Okla., 1959. description ends , 32). GW later recalled that he had responsibility for choosing the grave site and seeing that the general was properly buried (GW Biographical Memorandum, c.1786, ViMtvL, photostat).

Index Entries