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.
March 10, 1755, HAMPTON: "At 7 [p.m.] [we] cast Anchor in Hampton Road," wrote Mrs. Charlotte Browne today in her diary on board one of the troop ships carrying General Braddock’s army to America. "All in great Spirits. 4 Officers came on Board. Drank out 15 bottles of Port, all in the Cabin drunk (but Mr. Cherrington)."
The arrival was worth celebrating. Mrs. Browne, a widow, was traveling with her brother, an army officer, in a convoy that had left Cork in Ireland a long two months earlier. In the convoy were 18 ships: two men-of-war escorts; three ordnance ships carrying cannons, powder, muskets, and shot; and 13 troop transports, private vessels (the Molly, the Industry, the Isabel and Mary, and others) hired by the Admiralty for the voyage. By March 18, all had arrived in Virginia.
Then in Hampton Roads small boats busily rowed among the towering sides of the anchored ships bringing supplies from shore ("800 barrels of Pork and 1,000 barrels of Beef" etc.) for the ships to take to Alexandria.
On board the transports, the soldiers, tired of the continuous tumbling at sea, lined the decks for a view of the nearby land.
To their disappointment, only some officers and two sick soldiers (and Mrs. Browne) were permitted to go ashore before the ships (less one carrying supplies to Boston) got underway again and sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac.
On this "pleasant River," as one soldier called the Potomac, the soldiers’ spirits rose as they sailed past "many gentlemen’s Houses on Both Sides which we saluted with our Great Guns and [were] answered again from the Gentlemen’s Houses with their great Guns and Colors flying."
Soon 1755 Alexandria came into view.
Ted Pulliam is a member of the Alexandria Archaeological Commission. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org