Academic journal article Military Review

Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

Academic journal article Military Review

Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

Article excerpt

BRADDOCK'S DEFEAT

The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

David L. Preston, Oxford University Press, New York, 2015, 480 pages

The fight between British forces and French forces with a large contingent of Native American allies along the banks of the Monongahela on 9 July 1755 remains one of the most lopsided defeats in British and American military history. For David L. Preston, professor of National Security Studies at the Citadel, the very name of the battle, BraddockS Defeat, used by the British and French (la defaite de Bradok) implies that British Gen. Edward Braddock III made errors that led to his defeat. Instead, Preston argues that the battle was more French Capt. Daniel-Hyacinthe-Marie Lienard de Beaujeus victory than Braddocks defeat. Braddocks six hundred men were placed in an untenable position by Beaujeu from which no commander could have staved off defeat. Preston explicitly expands on Paul Koppermans Braddock at the Monongahela from 1977 by extending the scope of the battle from the origins of the expedition to the consequences of its defeat. He builds on Koppermans work by incorporating newly discovered accounts, especially from France, and also from Native Americans. He also walked the land, questioning older descriptions of the topography found in most previous histories.

Beaujeu led a relatively small force of French and Canadians augmented by a disciplined force of Native American allies from some twenty nations. Indeed, given the numbers of Native Americans and the importance of the battle to the strategies and politics of their tribes, the question of who was running the campaign and who was an auxiliary is open to interpretation. Preston takes direct aim at many of the long-accepted interpretations of the campaign, specifically on the character and competence of Braddock, and corrects errors concerning the terrain in key locations. Preston makes a solid case for the professional and even heroic advance of Braddocks column through terrain that the French thought impossible for an army to cross with siege artillery. …

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