Thursday, July 28, 2016

Heroine of the Revolution



3_dicey07.jpg

Would you have the courage to traverse over five miles in the middle of the night crossing a rushing swollen river to save your friends from certain death? If villains held your family at gunpoint, what would you do? Would you step forward and save them? 

Laodicea "Daring Dicey" Langston did just that. "Dicey", who lived during the Revolutionary War, was a patriot who carried messages about the Loyalists to the Patriots. By doing so, she saved many lives and helped to win the fight for freedom.

During the Revolutionary War, fifteen-year-old Dicey Langston overheard that a band of Loyalists known as the "Bloody Scouts"” were going to attack the Elder Settlement at Little Eden, South Carolina at dawn. She set out on foot in the middle of the night, crossed a swollen river, nearly drowned, but made it in time to warn her brother James so that he and his men could warn the settlement. When the Bloody Scouts arrived the next day, the Elder Settlement had been evacuated.

On another occasion, the Bloody Scouts broke into their home and threatened to kill all the Langston men. Only her father was present. He had been crippled during the war and wasn’t able to defend himself as well as he once could have. The Bloody Scouts held him at gunpoint and she stepped in front of her father, shielding him with her own body. She told them they would have to kill her first. One of the Bloody Scouts was so impressed with her bravery, that he stopped the assault and kept the others from killing Dicey or her father.

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Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meriwether’s Run-In with the Blackfoot

 


After Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean they began their return journey March 23, 1806. After crossing the worst section of the Rocky Mountains, the expedition split up. Clark took most of the men and explored the Yellowstone River country to the south. Lewis, with nine men, headed west to the Great Falls of the Missouri River where he split the small party still further. Six men remained behind to make the portage around the Great Falls. Lewis took the remaining three and headed north to explore the Marias River country of present-day northwestern Montana.

It was a risky, perhaps even irresponsible, decision. Lewis knew the Marias River country was the home of the Blackfoot Indians, one of the fiercest tribes of the Great Plains. Lewis hoped he could meet peacefully with the Blackfoot and encourage their cooperation with the United States. Yet, if they met a hostile Blackfoot band and a fight began, the four explorers would be badly outnumbered.

On July 26, Lewis encountered a party of eight young Blackfoot braves. At first, the meeting went well, and the Indians seemed pleased with Lewis’ gifts of a medal, flag, and handkerchief. Lulled into a false sense of security, Lewis invited the Indians to camp with them. In the early morning of July 27, Lewis awoke to the shouts of one his men–the Indians were attempting to steal their rifles and horses.
Lewis sped after two Indians who were running off with several of the horses, calling out for them to stop or he would shoot. One Indian, armed with an old British musket, turned toward Lewis. Apparently fearing that the Indian was about to shoot, Lewis fired first and hit him in the stomach. The Indians retreated, and the men quickly gathered their horses. Lewis then learned that one of his men had also fatally stabbed another of the Blackfoot.
Fearing the survivors would soon return with reinforcements, Lewis and his men immediately broke camp. They rode south quickly and managed to escape any retribution from the Blackfoot. 

Lewis’ diplomatic mission, however, had turned into a debacle. By killing at least one Indian, and probably two, Lewis had guaranteed that the already hostile Blackfoot would be unlikely to deal peacefully with Americans in the future”.

Lewis made a complete journal entry describing the event. That entry, as it was written, can be found HERE .

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sutlers & Artisans



Patriot Horns & Folk Art, from the hands of an artist, Rick Sheets. Visit his outstanding web site HERE and/or his Facebook HERE.


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Few craftsmen can turn a simple belt pouch into a work of art, however as you can see Darrel Lang does just that. Leather from the Past, his blog site can be found, HERE and/or Facebook page HERE.

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Nothing but a Hunter
"Nothing but a Hunter" by David Wright
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Friends Who Like Living History is a Facebook Public Group for all the creative people in the Living History and Reenactor communities of all eras. It is mainly packed full of outstanding photo work that will keep you going back for more. HERE



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Corner Clothiers, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, "Specializing in 19th Century Gentlemen's Apparel". Facebook HERE and Web site HERE .

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Kepis by Starbuck, Lynchburg, Virginia sutler to the reenactor and movie industry. Checkout Starbuck HERE.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

French Soldier & Militia Issue


French Militia By Frances Back.


This list is from the Bourlamaque Papers, National Archives of Canada (1757).


1. EQUIPMENT FOR THE OFFICER DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS: 

1 capot; 1 blanket; 1 woolen cap; 2 cotton shirts; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 1 breech-cloth; 2 skeins of thread; 6 needles; 1 awl; 1 firesteel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 pair of moccasins every month; 1 tomahawk. 



For The Winter Campaign in Addition To The Summer Equipment: 


1 bearskin; 2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 2 folding knives; 1 pair mittens; 1 vest; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings; 2 pairs of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes.

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2. EQUIPMENT FOR THE SOLDIER DURING SUMMER: 
1 blanket; 1 capot; 1 cap; 2 cotton shirts; 1 pair of breeches; 1 pair of underpants; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 2 skeins of thread; six needles; 1 awl; 1 fire steel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 tomahawk; 1 pair of moccasins every month. 

Winter Equipment In Addition To The Summer One: 

2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 1 pair of mittens; 1 vest; 2 folding knives; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings; 2 pair of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes; 1 bearskin

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3. EQUIPMENT FOR THE MILITIAMAN DURING SUMMER: 
1 blanket; 1 capot or bougrine (capot or a loose blouse or cape?); 2 cotton shirts; 1 breech cloth; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 2 skeins of thread; 6 needles; 1 awl; 1 firesteel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 tomahawk; 1 pair moccasins every month.

For The Winter Equipment In Addition To The Summer One: 

2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 1 pair of mittens; 1 vest; 2 folding knives; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings (mitasses); 2 pair of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes; 1 bearskin

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4. AUGMENTATION FOR EVERY SOLDIER AND MILITIAMAN: 
1/2 pound (livre) of gunpowder; 1 pound (livre) of balls; 1 pound (livre) of tobacco; 1 axe for 2 men; 1 tarpaulin and 1 cooking boiler for every 4 men.


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NOTE; This post is copied directly, with his permission, from Keith Burgess'  "The Woodsrunner's Diary" blog and is just a sample of the great information to be found HERE.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Once Upon a Time" in July (2 of 2)





July 16, 1779, The Battle of Stony Point took place. Stony Point is on the eastern bank of the Hudson river and Verplanck's Point on the opposite shore, they were key to the control of the Hudson. 
A British garrison of between 600 and 700 men occupied Stony Point under the command Lieutenant Colonel Henry Johnson.
Stony Point was surrounded by water on three sides. On the mainland side of the point flowed a swampy steam that flooded at high tide and was crossed by one causeway.

Watching the British actions from atop nearby Buckberg Mountain, General George Washington decided to attack utilizing the Continental Army's Corps of Light Infantry. Commanded by Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 1,300 men would stage a night time attach against Stony Point in three columns. The first, led by Wayne and consisting of around 700 men, would make the main attack against the southern side of the point. This was to be supported by an attack against the northern side by 300 men under Colonel Richard Butler. Major Hardy Murfree was ordered to stage a diversionary attack against the main British defenses with around 150 men. This effort was to precede the flank attacks and serve as signal for their advance.

To ensure surprise, Wayne's and Butler's columns would make the assault with their muskets unloaded and relying solely on the bayonet. Approaching Stony Point, the Americans benefited from heavy clouds which limited the moonlight. As Wayne's men neared the southern flank they found that their line of approach was flooded with two to four feet of water. Wading through the water, they created enough noise to alert the British pickets. As the alarm was raised, Murfree's men began their diversionary attack.

Responding to Murfree's diversion, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Johnson rushed to the landward defenses with six companies from the 17th Regiment of Foot. Wayne’s flanking columns succeeded in overwhelming the British and cutting off those engaging Murfree.

A stunning victory for Wayne, the fighting at Stony Point saw him lose 15 killed and 83 wounded, while British losses totaled 19 killed, 74 wounded, 472 captured, and 58 missing. In addition, a host of stores and fifteen guns were captured. Washington ordered Stony Point abandoned the next day as he lacked the men to fully protect it.





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Fort Mackinac - Mackinac Island
1798 North Blockhouse


Soon after the outbreak of the War of 1812, the British forces on St Joseph's Island moved toward the American held Mackinac Island. The British forces consisted of 45 regular soldiers under the command of Captain Roberts plus 180 Canadian Voyageurs from the North West Company and 400 Indians.

On the night of July 16th the British landed at a sheltered cove of the island and the next morning were in position on the hill above the fort with cannon and muskets aimed down into it.

When confronted by the British, Lieutenant Porter Hanks the American commander amazingly uttered "War! What War?" 



A full month has passed since the United States declared war on Great Britain, but this is the first Lieutenant Hanks has heard of it.

He had never been warned by his own government that they were declaring war. 
Lieutenant Hanks had 61 regular soldiers in the sturdy fort. Hanks had a choice, he could fight to the last man and become a hero or surrender. If it were a matter of facing just the 45 British regulars he might have done that. But he was also facing the Indian warriors whose savagery was said to be without limits, and therefore he may be fighting to not only the last man but the last women and child as well.
The American commander had no choice but to surrender and agree to the British terms, one of which was that his troops be paroled to their homes and not take part in the war until they can be exchanged for British soldiers who have been captured.
The American Government will pay a big price for not warning all their forces that they had declared war. This bloodless battle is also one of the most significant. The news of the capture of Michilimackinac Island will touch off a chain of events that will frustrate the Americans in their attempt to seize British North America, an enterprise that most of them believe to be, in Thomas Jefferson's much quoted phrase, "A mere matter of marching."


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On July 26, 1758, during the French & Indian War the French surrendered the fortress of Louisbourg after a lengthy British siege. This event ended the French colonial era in Atlantic Canada and led directly to the loss of Quebec in 1759 and the remainder of French North America the following year.


The siege had began on June 8th with a blockade of the harbor and after eleven days the British artillery batteries were landed and in position. Orders were given to open fire on the fort and French ships in the harbor. The British battery's consisted of seventy cannons and mortars of all sizes. Within hours, the guns had destroyed walls and damaged several buildings.
On the 21st a mortar round struck a 74 gun French ship of the line, L'Entreprenant, and set it ablaze. A stiff breeze fanned the fire, and shortly after the L'Entreprenant caught fire, two other French ships had caught fire. L'Entreprenant exploded later in the day, depriving the French of the largest ship in the Louisbourg fleet. On the evening of the 23rd a British "hot shot" set the King's Bastion on fire. The King's Bastion was the fortress headquarters and the largest building in North America in 1758. Its destruction eroded confidence and reduced morale in the French troops and their hopes to lift the British siege.
On the 25 Admiral Boscawen sent a cutting-out party to destroy the French ships in the harbor. With the help of a thick fog as cover, the British raiders eliminated the last two French ships of the line, capturing the Bienfaisant and burning the Prudent, thus clearing the way for the Royal Navy to enter the harbor. On the 26th the French surrendered.


Louisbourg today


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July was a busy month in history so I had two posts on some of the events. If you missed the first one click HERE .



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Heroine of the Revolution




Betsey Hagar.jpg

Elizabeth “Betsy” Hagar. This woman definitely deserves a bit of credit. In 1759, after being orphaned at the age of nine, Betsy Hagar became a “bound girl,” migrating around the homes of colonists who gave her shelter in exchange for her servitude. Somehow, in the mix of this, she cultivated a unique skill set for her age and gender: a handiness with machinery and tools. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Betsy collaborated with a local blacksmith to refurbish old firearms for use against the British. Because it was (and still is) illegal to make weapons to use against the government, this work had to be done in secret, in a small room attached to the smith’s shop."Betsy the Blacksmith" is known to have refitted a number of cannons, matchlocks, and muskets, as well as forging the corresponding ammunition for these firearms. She also spent much of her time healing the battlefield wounded, gaining bedside experience and sharpening her medical skills. She carried this expertise into her golden years, where she continued to practice medicine and was one of the pioneers of the smallpox inoculation.
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Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Battle of Huck’s Defeat


"Huck's Defeat" by Don Troiani

On July 12, 1780, Loyalist Philadelphia lawyer Captain Christian Huck and 130 Loyalist cavalry, belonging to British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s legion, suffer defeat at the hands of 500 Patriot militiamen at Williamson’s Plantation in South Carolina. The plantation was in South Carolina’s New Acquisition District along the border with North Carolina.
Huck and his Loyalists arrived at the Bratton plantation on the evening of July 11 to find only Martha Bratton at home, while her husband, Patriot William Bratton, was leading raids against Tory gatherings with his militia. While Martha was questioned by the Loyalists, a slave named Watt, notified Bratton of Huck’s presence near his home. Bratton, in turn, brought his Patriot militia back to the plantation and launched a surprise attack at dawn on July 12 on the Loyalist encampment at neighboring Williamson’s plantation. The Patriots surrounded Huck’s camp under cover of darkness and then opened fire as the soldiers emerged from their blankets at dawn, scoring a total defeat of the Loyalist forces, and killing Huck. The British lost between 25 and 50 men killed, including Huck, at least twice as many wounded and 29 captured. Only one Patriot died, and Continental morale received a significant a boost.

In the aftermath of the Patriot success, Martha earned recognition for her refusal to divulge her husband’s whereabouts under extreme duress. In addition, Watt’s endeavor to notify Bratton that Huck was in the area won him a place in local history. Both have markers in their honor. Historic Brattonsville is now a living history museum, which reenacts the battle for two days each July. Its historic buildings appear in the film The Patriot (2000), starting Mel Gibson.


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Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pre-1900 Logistics



Having problems deciding what food stuffs to pack for the upcoming reenactment event? What rifle or smoothbore to take? "Oh what the heck, plenty room in the truck I'll take extra".

Was not that smiple in the 18th Century.

Historian Scott Stephenson writes in “Forbes Trail”: “An 18th century artillery train was a formidable sight. One hundred and twenty wagons, pulled by five hundred horses, were required to move the 1758 Forbes Expedition’s artillery, ammunition, and equipment.”




Forbes commanded between 6,000 and 8,000 men. Rations for the soldiers were a huge undertaking as well as forage and feed for the animals. 
Brigadier General Forbes set the rations for each man for a one week as eight pounds of fresh beef (on the average, a steer weighing 1,000 pounds on the hoof will average around 430 pounds of retail cuts (steaks, roasts, ground beef, stew beef, etc.) or five pounds of salted pork. This was followed by seven pounds of flour or cooked biscuits, one pint of rice in lieu of one pound of flour. Pork would be transported in barrels that could weigh upwards to 233 pounds packed in salt brine. Often barrels would spoil and problem that was ongoing during the campaign. 


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In the War of 1812 getting supplies to the army on the western frontier of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan was a difficult business. Heavy barrels, sacks and bales of food and clothing were loaded onto boats that sailed down the Ohio River. Supplies were then transferred to smaller boats or canoes and paddled north to where the army was camped.

The winter weather of 1812 plagued General James Winchester’s left wing of the Northwestern Army as it marched north to recapture Detroit, which had been surrendered to the British on August 16th. First rain flooded the land, then the rivers dried up. Finally, it froze, so that Winchester’s men couldn’t use their boats at all. Soldiers laboriously loaded the provisions onto much slower pack trains of horses and makeshift sleds.

The difficulty moving supplies posed serious problems for the small force of about two thousand soldiers, mostly Kentucky militia, with four hundred regular soldiers from the 17th and 19th U.S. Infantry Regiments. In order to support a large army in the early nineteenth century, commanders had to feed all the men and officers a daily ration. In addition, the army’s horses and cattle consumed large amounts of fodder.

Not only did Winchester have to feed everyone on the trip, but he also needed to build a large stockpile of food and supplies to support his army when he reached Detroit. As most armies of the day did, Winchester’s soldiers drove a herd of cattle along with them on the march. Soldiers assigned to guard the animals were called the “grass guard.” These cattle were slaughtered as needed, and all the parts were used; the hides saved for leather and the fat for making tallow candles.

Rations
We need only multiply the army’s regulation daily ration for each soldier to fully grasp the scale of Winchester’s supply problem. Each soldier was supposed to receive the following, each day:
1¼ pounds of beef
1½ pounds of flour
5 ounces of liquor
5 ounces of vinegar

In addition to these basics, soldiers were also issued small amounts of salt, lye soap and candles. When cattle were unavailable, meat was preserved with salt in large wooden barrels. If possible, the flour was baked into bread or hard biscuits. Soldiers banded together in groups of five or six and cooked their rations in a common pot.




For ration information during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars check out this new group on Facebook. "Historic Military Enthusiasts" HERE .

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Revolutionary War: By The Numbers





"The Revolutionary War: By The Numbers", by Tyler Rogoway


Now that we have celebrated the 4th of July let's take a moment to reflect on the enormous cost, in lives and treasure, that it took us to earn our independence.

•8.37 years was how long the war lasted
•80,000 militia and Continental Army soldiers served at the height of the war
•56,000 British soldiers fought at the height of the war
•30,000 German mercenaries known as Hessians fought for Britain during the war
•55,000 Americans served as privateers during the war
•25,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died during the war
•8,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from wounds inflicted during battle
•17,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from disease during the war
•25,000 Revolutionary Soldiers were estimated to have been wounded or maimed
•1 in 20 able bodied white free males living in America died during the war
•24,000 British Soldiers were killed during the war
•100,000 Loyalist fled to Canada, the Bahamas and England during the war
•45% of colonists fully supported the war
•20% of colonists were outright loyal to Britain
•3 million is the estimated population of America in 1776
•1 million is the estimated population of London alone during the same period
•$8 is the monthly salary of a teenage drummer in the Continental Army
•5 feet is the length of a standard Continental Army Flintlock Musket
•10lbs is the weight of a standard Continental Army Flintlock Musket
•1oz is the the weight of a standard musket ball
•1,547 known military engagements occured during the Revolutionary War
•10 was the age of the youngest member of the Continental Army
•57 was the age of the oldest member of the Continental Army
•6.5% is the population participation rate during the war, higher than any American war since WWII
•$151 million was the total American cost of the war
•$600 was roughly how much the war cost each American in 1990 dollars
•$0 was the amount George Washington was paid for his military service
•26 original copies of the Declaration of Independence are known to exist

Image credit via AP, for additional metrics please click here, here, here andhere.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com

Monday, July 4, 2016

"Once Upon a Time" in July (1 of 2)




When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical. By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine’s bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published in early 1776. On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee–including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York–to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” On July 4th, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.




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A view of Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance. (Flickr | Slabcity Gang)
Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance

July, 5th, 1777, the command of Major General Arthur St. Clair retreated from Fort Ticonderoga after British cannons were seen on top of the high ground of Mount Defiance and Sugar Loaf Hill both of which commanded the fort.
After capturing Fort Ticonderoga, the British, under Lieutenant General John Burgoyne, pursued the retreating Continental army under St. Clair.
The bulk St. Clair's army retreated through Hubbardton to Castleton, while the rear guard, Patriots commanded by  Colonel Seth Warner, Colonel Ebenezer Francis and Colonel Nathan Hale, stopped at Hubbardton to rest and pick up stragglers.

July 7, 1777, the British and German troops ran into stubborn rebel resistance at Hubbardton, Vermont. The day would ultimately turn the tide for the Patriot cause.  In the fields and hills around Hubbardton, a tenacious American rear guard of about 1,200 derailed the British general’s plan for a quick march to Albany. The British won a tactical victory, but they suffered precious losses. 
The Patriots left the British and Germans bloodied while also saving untold casualties from their own army. 
Burgoyne and his weakened force ultimately surrendered at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, paving the way for a French alliance with the colonies and American independence. 

"Battle of Hubbardton" by Roy Frederic Heinrich

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July 8, 1758, the bloodiest battle of the French & Indian War took place near Fort Carillon on Lake Champlain. (now known as Fort Ticonderoga)
In the battle, which took place primarily on a rise about three-quarters of a mile from the fort itself, a French army of about 3,600 men under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis decisively defeated an overwhelmingly numerically superior force of British troops under General James Abercrombie, which frontally assaulted an entrenched French position without using field artillery, the lack of which left the British and its allies vulnerable and allowed the French to win a decisive victory. Over 3,000 casualties suffered. French losses were about 400, while more than 2,000 were British.

American historian Lawrence Gipson wrote of Abercrombie's campaign that "no military campaign was ever launched on American soil that involved a greater number of errors of judgment on the part of those in positions of responsibility"


Many military historians have cited the Battle of Carillon as a classic example of tactical military incompetence. 


The Victory of Montcalms Troops at Carillon by Henry Alexander Ogden.JPG
"The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon" by Henry Alexander Ogden

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When news of the defeat at Fort Necessity reached British Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, he called for a quick undeclared retaliatory strike.
The British Government sent General Edward Braddock to the colonies as commander in chief of British North American forces. Braddock arrived in Virginia in February 1755 to take command against the French in North America. 
Braddock was about sixty, a short, stout, bad-tempered with little experience in action and none of the type of fighting that was in store for him. His rudeness and arrogance made a thoroughly bad impression on the colonials and were to contribute to a jaundiced view of the British officer class. On arrival, however, he received a congratulatory letter from a Virginian lieutenant-colonel of twenty-two named George Washington, who was privately thinking of a career in the British regular army. Braddock soon discovered that Washington knew the wilderness country and took him on his staff as an aide.His first objective was the French Fort Duquesne, deep in the wilderness at the Fork of the Ohio River, where the city of Pittsburgh stands today.
Two regiments of infantry, the 44th and 48th, arrived from England and after some difficult months making preparations and recruiting additional troops locally – with Braddock’s temper almost permanently at boiling point – the army began the march for Fort Duquesne.
The expedition progressed slowly because Braddock considered making a road to Fort Duquesne a priority in order to effectively supply the position he expected to capture and hold at the Forks of the Ohio. As progress was slow Braddock left about one-third of his force to bring the supply train on behind under Colonel Dunbar of the 48th, while pressing on through forest country with perhaps 1,500 men.

On July 9, 1755, Braddock's men crossed the Monongahela without opposition, about 10 miles south of Fort Duquesne. The advance guard of 300 grenadiers and colonials with two cannon under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gage began to move ahead. Washington tried to warn him of the flaws in his plan, for example, the French and the Indians fought differently than the open-field style they were using but his efforts were ignored. It would cost Braddock his life for not listening to young Washington.

As Braddock’s advanced guard proceeded through the trees in their red coats they were surprised by an enemy force. Most of them were American Indians, the rest French and Canadians. Fiendish war-whoops sent chills down British spines as the Indians darted down each flank of the British and caught them in a cross-fire, while the French blocked the front.


After an exchange of fire, Gage's advance group fell back. In the narrow confines of the road, they collided with the main body of Braddock's force, which had advanced rapidly when the shots were heard. The entire column dissolved in disorder as the Canadian militamen and Indians enveloped them and continued to snipe at the British flanks from the woods on the sides of the road. At this time, the French regulars began advancing and began to push the British back.
Following Braddock's example, the officers kept trying to reform units into regular show order within the confines of the road, mostly in vain and simply providing targets for their concealed enemy.
Many British officers were killed or put out of action and the men ran for it, colliding with their comrades moving up in support.
After several hours of intense combat, Braddock was shot off his horse, and effective resistance collapsed. Colonel Washington put Braddock on a cart and led as many of the British as he could get to listen to him back across the Monongahela.



Washington's first order of business was to get Braddock to safety. Fortunately for Washington, most of the opposing forces chose to loot the battleground rather than pursue Braddock's men across the Monongahela River. Momentarily out of harm's way, Braddock ordered Washington to rally the fleeing troops. As best he could, Washington was able to collect nearly 200 men—an insufficient number to stage a strong counter-attack. With increasing despair, Braddock ordered Washington to locate Colonel Thomas Dunbar and retrieve the men and supplies that were being held in reserve.
Carrying out his assignment, Washington located Dunbar seven miles away. The next day, Braddock and the remainder of the army reached Dunbar's camp and plans began anew to orchestrate a deliberate retreat. Unable to effectively lead, Braddock relinquished command to Dunbar.
Braddock struggled on for another day before dying at night on July 13, 1755.
The following day, Washington fittingly chose a spot along Braddock's road and buried his commanding officer. Fearing that enemy soldiers would attempt to locate Braddock's body, Washington directed the wagon train and foot soldiers to march over the recently disturbed earth to cover any signs of Braddock's recent burial.


"Looking down the old road to the location of Braddock's original burial site."


The French commander Dumas realized the British were utterly defeated, but he did not have enough of a force to continue organized pursuit.

Washington's actions earned him the sobriquet "Hero of the Monongahela", by which he was toasted, and established his fame for some time to come.