Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to
the tempestuous sea of liberty. — Thomas Jefferson

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Braddock's Defeat

In 1754, Franklin, deputy postmaster-general of the colonies, was sent to Albany, where, as we have already seen, a congress of delegates from the colonies met to discuss the best way of opposing the French. Franklin, knowing that it was only by working all together that the best results could be reached, now made a plan for the union of the colonies.

As one can often make people understand things better by telling them stories or showing them pictures, Franklin remembered the common belief that a snake, cut into pieces, would become whole again if the parts were allowed to touch. He therefore placed at the head of his paper the picture of such a snake, cut into pieces to represent the colonies, which he further indicated by their initials. Under this picture he wrote the motto: "Join or die."

Although the colonies did not adopt Franklin's plan of union, they nevertheless voted men and money for the war. The British, on their part, sent over General Braddock, one of their best officers, to take charge of the campaign. Meeting the governors of the different colonies in Virginia, Braddock decided that, while one army marched north from Albany to take Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point before going on to Quebec, a second should move westward from the same point to Lake Ontario and Niagara.

In the meantime, a fleet was to sail from New England to join the first army in besieging Quebec. But the fourth and principal expedition, led by Braddock himself, was to march across Pennsylvania to Fort Duquesne, so as to drive the French out of the coveted Ohio valley. This plan was very fine; but Braddock, used to the European way of fighting, little knew how to carry on war with the French and Indians in the pathless forests.

At Braddock's defeat

Washington now advised Braddock, his superior officer, to leave the heavy baggage and cannons behind; but the British general would not consent. After much delay, the Pennsylvania farmers loaned their wagons and horses to carry the baggage, thanks to Franklin's personal efforts, and the army set out. But as Braddock insisted upon the army's marching along in an orderly file, a road had first to be built, and Washington once impatiently said that they stopped "to level every molehill."

Washington knew it be best to advance rapidly and surprise Fort Duquesne; but the army moved slowly until, at about eight miles from the fort, it was suddenly attacked by the French and Indians. The British soldiers, clad in red and marching in close ranks, made fine targets for their enemies, who, as usual, hid behind every tree and rock, whence they poured a deadly fire upon them. Braddock bravely rallied his men again and again; but not knowing how to fight unseen foes, they were helplessly slain. The general himself, after seeing great numbers of his men and officers fall, was mortally wounded, and had to order a retreat.

In the midst of this horrible scene, Washington and his Virginian soldiers alone kept cool. Four bullets passed through Washington's coat, and two horses were killed under him, for the Indians aimed specially at him. But all their bullets failed, and they afterwards said with awe that he surely bore a charmed life, and that no shot could ever touch him.

Nearly all the officers were killed, but Washington managed to cover the retreat of the British, and their wounded general was picked up and borne off the battlefield of the Monongahela. Braddock was now full of remorse for not following Washington's advice, and he died four days later, saying: "Who would have thought it? Who would have thought it? We shall better know how to deal with them another time."

Washington sadly buried the brave general in the Pennsylvania woods, making the army march over his grave, so that no trace of upturned soil should betray to the Indians his last resting place. Then the beaten and disheartened troops slowly made their way back, encouraged by Washington, who, going afoot, shared all their hardships, and relieved the weary men by loading their muskets and baggage upon his own horse.

The army marching westward from Albany had, in the meantime, paused discouraged at Oswego, while the one moving northward beat the French on the shores of a lake, which they called George, in honor of the victory won for their king (1755). The French officer Dieskau was captured there, and among the English dead was Ephraim Williams, who left his fortune to found the college in Massachusetts which bears his name.

Expulsion of the Arcadians

Fearing that the Acadian farmers, who still spoke French and loved their mother country, would turn against them, the British now tried to make the peasants take an oath of fidelity. When they refused, the men and boys were bidden to assemble, and then, after some delay, they and their families were sent on board British ships and taken away (1755). In the confusion several families were separated.

Thus ruthlessly torn from home, the Acadians were scattered throughout the colonies. Many made their way to Louisiana, so as to be still under French rule; others escaped into the woods; and a few spent long years vainly seeking those they loved. If you care to learn how one girl wandered thousands of miles in quest of her lover, you should read Longfellow's beautiful poem Evangeline.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell