Whiplash! Self blazed through Ann Cleeves’ Cold Earth (Four stars) this afternoon and is starting a new read. Goodbye Shetlands, hello pre-revolutionary America.
Edward Braddock, Commander of the British Forces in North America — to think self has reached her great age without knowing anything about him, until half an hour ago, when she began Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution, by Woody Holton. Braddock is a man of much perspicacity, having agreed to have 23-year-old George Washington — who, despite his youth was an experienced woodsman — as an unpaid member of his “personal staff.” He also used eight Iroquois (one of whom was Scarouady, the Iroquois “Half King” of the Ohio Valley), as guides.
Braddock’s army of 1,400 collides “unexpectedly” with the French north of the Monongahela River, and “in short order fifteen of the eighteen officers in the British vanguard became casualties.” The British were not at all good at forest fighting (which this encounter was) and there was a very chaotic scene: “native warriors scalped wounded captives, assailants’ screams mingled with those of their victims, terrifying the remaining redcoats.”
- All the while, Braddock rode furiously among them, constantly exposing himself to enemy fire as he tried to gather platoons into companies. Four or five horses were successively shot from under him.
He was only felled three hours later, when a musket ball threw him from his horse. It took him four days to die of his wounds.
The British lost a third of their men (approx. 500), the French lost 28 soldiers and 11 “natives.”