250 years ago a British army led by General Edward Braddock arrived in Alexandria in route, unknowingly, to a bloody defeat at the hands of the French and Indians. Following is one of a series of weekly articles on that army.
February 19, 1755, HAMPTON: General Braddock, commander of the expedition against the French and Indians, arrived today at Hampton Roads aboard the man-of-war Norwich, 50 guns, Samuel Barrington Captain.
Strong ocean winds had badly cracked both the foremast and the mainmast of the Norwich. Although Braddock described the voyage as "troublesome," he and his staff aboard were safe.
General Edward Braddock was then 60 years old, somewhat short, and stout. Most of his over 40 years as a soldier had been spent on garrison duty with the Coldstream Guards. This colonial expedition would be the first time he would lead troops in combat.
Two days later, the Centurion arrived with Commodore Augustus Keppel, commander-in-chief of the British navy in North America, on board. The transports with the rest of the army were still at sea, so Braddock, Keppel, and Braddock's staff rode to Williamsburg to meet the Governor of Virginia and make further preparations for the expedition.
Sir John St. Clair, Braddock's Deputy Quartermaster General, quickly wrote to John Carlyle, the commissary officer for troops headed for Alexandria, that Braddock had arrived and that "you are hereby ordered to get together all the troop's provisions you probably can and complete everything in the earliest manner."
One of Braddock's first decisions at Williamsburg was not to follow St. Clair's recommendation that British troops land and camp at various places in Virginia and Maryland. Instead, he ordered them all to disembark and camp in Alexandria.
Ted Pulliam is a member of the Alexandria Archaeological Commission.