Pennsylvania – “Braddock’s Defeat”: Pittsburgh’s Past & Public Memory

A wounded officer sits, leaning against a tree and grasping his side in pain, at the center of this painting. Several uniformed men and a Native warrior gather around him as soldiers, horses, and wagons bearing British flags rush forward.
The Wounding of General Braddock by Robert Griffing.

Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Recipient: Braddock’s Battlefield History Center

Amount: $52,000.00

Marching through open forest on July 9, 1755, Major General Edward Braddock’s British Army approached their objective of Fort Duquesne, a French garrison at the confluence of three rivers in western Pennsylvania (modern day Pittsburg). The fort was a major French stronghold, one of the primary fortifications that France used to guard the eastern approaches to lands, then known as the Ohio Country, that the British wanted to control for its access to the Lake Erie and its potential as prime farmland. Earlier attempts to seize the fort, including an expedition of Virginians led by Major George Washington and joined by Seneca allies in 1754, had failed. Braddock believed Duquesne was lightly defended and divided his forces, leaving most of his troops to guard the slower artillery column and supply wagons.

An allied force of French marines and Native warriors attacked Braddock just north of the Monongahela River. Algonquian communities, including the Delaware and Shawnee, chose to fight for France to stop the western expansion of British colonists. Native warriors, expert at fighting in loose formations, influenced French tactics. Converging on the dense British column from all sides, the French troops stayed behind trees and other cover as they fired into the exposed ranks of Braddock’s soldiers and forced the British to fall back into their main force. After resisting for three hours and suffering heavy casualties, the British retreated. “Braddock’s Defeat,” as the Battle of Monongahela came to be known, left the British general dead and the Ohio Country in the hands of the Native and French allies for another three years.

Utilizing a 2022 Preservation Planning Grant awarded by the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the non-profit Braddock’s Battlefield History Center will develop an interpretive plan for the Monongahela battlefield. While much of the site has been lost to modern development and the Pittsburg suburbs, the center plans to convene a group of diverse stakeholders, inviting Federally Recognized Tribes, local museums, and universities to share their knowledge and perspectives in shaping visitor experiences of what remains of the site on the ground and in public memory. The center believes that by building awareness with the local community about the causes and effects of the battle, they can provide a space to discuss the multicultural history of Pittsburg and the city’s impact on the nation’s founding.

Preservation Planning Grants are the American Battlefield Protection Program's broadest and most inclusive grant program, promoting the stewardship of battlefields and sites of armed conflict on American soil. In addition, the program administers three other grants: Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants, the newly authorized Battlefield Restoration and Battlefield Interpretation grant programs. This financial assistance generates community-driven stewardship of historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.

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Check out the American Battlefield Protection Program's website for more information about various grant offerings and eligibility.

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Part of a series of articles titled 2022 Preservation Planning Grants Highlights.

Last updated: August 29, 2022