What was Braddock’s road and why was it so important?
The Braddock Road was a military road built in 1755 in what was then British America and is now the United States. It was the first improved road to cross the barrier of the successive ridgelines of the Appalachian Mountains. It was constructed by troops of Virginia militia and British regulars commanded by General Edward Braddock of the Coldstream Guards, part of an expedition to conquer the Ohio Country from the French at the beginning of the French and Indian War, the North American portion of the Seven Years’ War. George Washington was an aid-de-camp to General Braddock (one of his favorites) who accompanied the expedition. The expedition gave him his first field military experience along with other American military officers. A number of these men would profit from this experience during the Revolutionary War.
In 1755, Braddock was sent to remove the French from Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Starting from Fort Cumberland, Braddock’s army cut a military trail through the wilderness, roughly following Nemacolin’s path, an improved, prehistoric Native American trail.
Braddock met defeat east of Fort Duquesne and was fatally wounded. He was buried in the middle of the road he built, and his soldiers marched over the grave, with the hope of concealing the grave’s location from the Indians. The grave was found years later by road workers and the grave was moved. The site is now marked by a marble monument erected in 1913.
The Forbes Expedition, a more successful British expedition mounted against Fort Duquesne in 1758, used a different route through the mountains west of Carlisle, Pennsylvania along what became known as Forbes’ Road.
In August 1908 and again during June and July 1909, John Kennedy Lacock, a Harvard professor originally from Amity, near Washington, Pennsylvania, was able to identify the path of Braddock’s march. He hired Ernest K. Weller to photograph the road. Lacock’s commissioned photographs survive in the form of postcards, which he published in 1910, and his written account was published in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography in 1914. It should be noted the road Lacock discovered was a road made by over 30 years of colonial settlers following Braddock’s trail.