Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Road to Hell II.

This is coolbert:

Braddock's approach to Ft. Duquesne [Pittsburgh] is another example of how a "road" can become a death trap for a military unit. A combination of negative factors all coming together at once to spell disaster.

This is of course the Braddock Expedition [French and Indian War]. Conventional European military commander, attempting to use conventional European tactics in the American wilderness. NOT using tactics appropriate for the terrain or the enemy.

"The Braddock expedition (also called "Braddock's campaign") was a failed British attempt to capture the French Fort Duquesne in the summer of 1755 during the French and Indian War. The expedition takes its name from General Edward Braddock, who led the British forces and died in the effort."

Even when warned, Braddock was not flexible and responsive to the conditions he faced! What worked well for a career officer like Braddock in Europe DID NOT WORK in the Allegheny Mountains of North America!

"Benjamin Franklin's autobiography includes an account of helping General Braddock garner supplies and carriages for the general's troops. He also describes a conversation with Braddock in which he explicitly warned the General that his plan to march troops to the fort through a narrow valley would be dangerous because of the possibility of an ambush."

"Braddock's Road - - Setting out from Fort Cumberland in Maryland . . . the expedition faced an enormous logistical challenge: moving a large body of men with equipment, provisions, and (most importantly for the task ahead) heavy cannon, across the densely wooded Allegheny Mountains and into western Pennsylvania, a journey of about 110 miles."

Move 110 miles to the west, BUT, where there was NO road at all. Those cannon, felt to be decisive, NEEDED a road, as would be present in the European environment. NO ROAD existed in the Allegheny Mountains that would accommodate the Braddock Expedition. A ROAD THAT HAD TO BE BUILT BY A PIONEER [QUASI-MILITARY ENGINEER UNIT] UNIT AS THE EXPEDITION MOVED FORWARD!!

"The expedition progressed slowly, in some cases moving as few as two miles a day, creating Braddock's Road—an important vestige of the march—as they went."

A march culminating in the Battle of the Monongahela.

What occurred was an absolute rout of the British forces and colonial militia. Road bound, attempting to use European-style tactics in unfriendly and hostile terrain, proved to be futile in the extreme.

"After an initial defense, Gage's [Gage - - colonial militia commander] advance group fell back. In the narrow confines of the road, they collided with the main body of Braddock's force, which had advanced rapidly when the shots were heard. The entire column dissolved in disorder as the Canadian militiamen and Indians enveloped them and continued to snipe at the British from the woods and ravines on the sides of the road."

NO ROOM to maneuver, CONFINED to the road and beset from all sides simultaneously, this must have been just absolute chaos!

These two items from the wiki entry catch my attention instantly:

* "Also, of the 50 or so women that accompanied the British column as maids and cooks, only 4 survived."

The wagon train, the baggage and "impedimenta", had fifty or so women present! ONLY made things worse. I bet the French and their American Indian allies had a field day with them.

* "the French commander Liénard de Beaujeu, who dressed himself in full war regalia complete with war paint, convinced them to follow his lead."

Here is an excellent example of a commander who rallies his men, inspires them, and leads them into combat IN A MANNER APPROPRIATE!! Lienard also perished in the combat??!!

An inflexible, stubborn commander [Braddock], using tactics not commensurate, his command road-bound, faced by an enemy that knew the terrain and how fight in same, was a recipe for British disaster from the start!




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