George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775

By James Thomas Flexner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
16
Wrong Road to Victory

AT FIRST THE British high command laid the blame for the angry controversy over roads less on Washington than Virginians in general. And, indeed, it was from outraged officials at Williamsburg that Washington first learned that General Forbes was being persuaded, as he collected supplies in Philadelphia, that he should not revive the now overgrown road Braddock had cut towards Duquesne and the Ohio. The Philadelphians urged a new road that would lead directly to and from Pennsylvania.

If improved and placed in a monopolistic position by British engineers, Braddock's Road would, after peace had been restored, draw the commerce of the Ohio Valley to Virginia. Near the head of navigation for ocean-going vessels, Alexandria would become the great city Washington all his life envisioned on the Potomac and near Mount Vernon.

Since Alexandria was still a hamlet and Virginia herself had to buy from Philadelphia what manufactured goods she did not import from England, Washington could not object to Forbes procuring supplies in Pennsylvania. Nor could he object to using Raystown (now Bedford, Pennsylvania), within easy reach of Philadelphia, as an intermediate staging point. But the idea that instead of then going sideways thirty miles to Fort Cumberland

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