Braddock’s Defeat at the Monongahela (Conversations)

Maryland Gazette/September 11, 1755

Friend in New York, dated August 27, 1755

A few days ago Capt. Heath arrived here from the West-Indies, in whom came two Frenchmen, gaily dressed, they visited the Town Battery, and entirely satisfying their Curiosity, as to our Situation and Condition . . . read in the several News-Papers, the Accounts of General Braddock’s Defeat, and drank a Health to the brave fellows that defeated him. This Behavior at last, gave some Offence to the Magistrates, and they were put in Custody of a Constable Forty-Eight Hours, after which they appeared before a Court of Justices, who, we hear, have ordered them to depart the Place the very first Opportunity.”

As the following Letter from Albany, dated August the 14th, contains some few Remarks of the utmost Consequence, when well observed; it is therefore thought proper to let the Public know them.


Some Weeks ago as I passed by a Company of new Levies, who were exercising, commanded by an English Officer, with whom I had some little Acquaintance, I waited to see them exercise; the Captain told me for the Time they were pretty expert . . . I who have some Experience in the Indian Wars, looked on with the utmost Concern; and when the Men retired, told the Captain we exercised our Men that were to fight against the French and Indians, in a different Manner . . . Pray Sir, said the Captain, how is that? Only to load quick, and hit the Mark, that is our whole Exercise . . . What! Do you take Aim at the Enemy? Said he? Yes, good Aim, or not fire, said I. So if an Officer appears, said he, Twenty shall aim at him . . . absolute Murder! You’re not in much Danger of that, said I; you will scarce find upon an Attack six Indians together, and you must divide yourselves in small Parties everywhere, to oppose the scattered enemy . . . Quite absurd, answered he; pray, do you think when a Body of Regular Forces keep Rank, and fire regular Platoons, that any irregular Attack can defeat them? It cannot be, Sir, you’re certainly mistaken, and here is my Orders, said he (pulling out a Card), writ on the Back, Keep Rank stand fire Platoons; Sir, you see what I say is the Opinion of the Council of War. It was so indeed . . . Witness O—o.

Pray let me acquaint these Gentlemen, who are Strangers to the French and Indians, that they require no Exercise, but to be perfectly acquainted with the Use of their Arms, that is, to load quick, and hit the Mark. And for military Discipline, but this one Rule: If they are attack’d by French and Indians, to rush to all Parts from whence their Fire comes, and if they can put their Guns to the Enemy’s Breast, so much the better. The Gentleman Officers from Europe will better understand me, when I inform them, they must fight the French and Indians in the same Manner they force the Trenches in Europe.

I have found by Experience one smart Fire, and some Execution, will effectualy disperse both French and Indians . . . It is an unpardonable Neglect of Duty to be surpriz’d by the French¸when a few brisk Men scattered for two hundred Yards on each Side, will prevent it . . . Keep them from surprising you, and they are an easy Conquest.

I am, etc.

We shall add to the above Remarks, a new Piece of Policy made use of by General JOHNSON, in his March to Crown Point . . . He has made his Indians naked and painted, perform many mock Fights, with his other Troops, in the Manner of a real Indian Fight, except Lead in the Guns; by this Exercise he accustoms his Troops to be well acquainted with the Indian Manner of Fighting. A most prudent Thought indeed.


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