Notes on Braddock's Road

Reference in C&O Canal Companion: History pages 3-11

General Braddock's instructions to Colonel Dunbar in 1755 give a valuable picture of the winding route through the Virginia mountains to Will's Creek (named Fort Cumberland by General Braddock). To accommodate their heavy wagons and guns, the British soldiers had to enlarge this packhorse trail used by early settlers and the Ohio Company to reach Cresap's fort at Oldtown.

Note that Dunbar's regiment had proceeded through Maryland to this point, but the road west had proven unsuitable. Thus the first few days of the march are from Frederick, Maryland, through Conococheague (today's Williamsport), to the Widow Barringer's (near today's Winchester). Braddock's other regiment, commanded by Peter Halkett, took the more natural route for Virginians, from Alexandria along the Potomac Road (today's Leesburg Pike), and crossing the Blude Ridge through Key's Gap to reach Frederick, Virginia (today's Winchester).

Northern Virginia historian Ross Netherton identifies the modern landmarks for the way-stations on the rest of route as: Widow Barringer's near the intersection of VA 672 and 739, Babb's Run at Lake St. Clair, Pott's Camp near Gainesboro, Enoch's Camp just west of the forks of Cacapon, Cox's at the mouth of the Little Cacapon, Cresap's at Oldtown in Maryland.


From Braddock's Orderly Books --

FREDERICK, Sunday, April 27th, 1755


Colo Dunbars Regiment is to march ye 29th and to proceed to Wills Creek agreeable to the following Route:


29th From Fredk on ye road to Conogogee..............


30th From that halting place to Conogogee..............


1st From Conogogee to John Even's.....................


2nd Rest

3rd To the Widow Baringer...............................


4th To George Polls........................................


5th To Henry Enoch's.....................................


6th Rest

7th To Cox's at ye mouth of little Cacapn...............


8th To Colo Cresaps.......................................


9th To Wills Creek.........................................




The men are to take from this place three Days provisions ; at Conogogee they will have more, at the Widow Baringers 5 Days, at Colo Cresaps one or more Days, and at all these places Oats or Indian Corn must be had for the horses but no Hay.

At Conogogee the Troops cross the Potomack in a Float When the Troops have marchd 14 miles from Jno Evans they are to make the new road to their Right, which leads from Opeckon Bridge.
When the Troops have marched 14 miles from George Polle's they come to the great Cacapepon they are to pass that River in a Float, after passing they take the road to the Right.

If the water in the little Cacapepon is high the Troops must encamp opposite to Cox's.
At the mouth of the little Cacapepon the Potomack is to be crossd in a Float Four miles beyond this they cross Town Creek if the Float should not be finshd Canves will be provided.

If the Bridges are not finishd over Wills Creek and Evans Creek, Waggons will be orderd to carry the men over. It will be propr to get 2 Days Provns at Colo Cresaps ye whole shd not arrive till ye 10th.

A Subaltorn and thirty men are to be left behind with a proper number of tents which will be carried for them ; these men are to have six days Provisions.

The Generals Guard is not to be relievd to morrow but proper Centrys are to be found from the 30 men orderd to remain.

Primary S ources:

  • Braddock's Defeat: The Journal of Captain Robert Cholmley's Batman, The Journal of a British Officer, and Halkett's Orderly Book, edited by Charles Hamilton, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 1959 [Captain Cholmley's batman was with Dunbar's 48th Regiment; Halkett's Orderly Book, kept by Lieutenant Daniel Disney, chronicles the movements of Halkett's 44th Regiment--it is now in the Library of Congress.]
  • History of Cumberland, Maryland: from the time of the Indian town, Caiuctucuc, in 1728, up to the present day, by Will H. Lowdermilk, Washington, DC, J. Anglim, !878. [Available in reprint, this includes as an appendix the transcribed text of Braddock's Orderly Books, kept under the direction of George Washington up to June 17, 1755. The original copies of the Orderly Books are in the Library of Congress.]


  • "Braddock Road," by John Kennedy Lacock, in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XXXVII, 1914. [This is a very detailed tracing of Braddock's route across the Appalachians, starting at Fort Cumberland and proceeding west.]
  • "Blunder Camp," by Paul A.W. Wallace, in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1963. [While paying homage to Lacock's work, Wallace provides more detail on the camps used by Braddock's expedition from July 1-7, based on the new information provided by the discovery of two maps made by Christopher Gist, and the journals edited and published by Charles Hamilton in 1959.]
  • "The Organization of Braddock's Army," by Franklin T. Nichols, in the William and Mary Quarterly, Series 3, Volume 4, 1947
  • "An Assessment of the Cholmley's Batman and British A Journals of Braddock's Campaign" by Paul E. Kopperman, in the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volume 62, July 1979
  • "A British Officer's Journal of the Braddock Expedition - Et Cetera," by Paul E. Kopperman, in the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, July 1981.
  • Fighting for a Continent, Newspaper Coverage of the English and French War For Control of North America, 1754-1760, David A. Copeland, in the Early American Review, Spring 1997 issue.

Books and Pamphlets:

  • Braddock's Campaign and the Potomac Route West, Ross Netherton, Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, Higher Education Publishing, Falls Church, Virginia, 1989
  • Braddock's Road Through the Virginia Colony, by Walter S. Hough, Winchester-Frederick Historical Society, Winchester, Virginia, Printed by Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc. Strasburg, Virginia, 1970.
  • Braddock's Road Chronicles, 1755, Andrew J. Wahl, Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 1999. [A compilation of accounts, organized chronologically to give a day-by-day account of the expedition.]
  • Ill-Starred General: Braddock of the Coldstream Guards, Lee McCardell, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1958.

Also on the Web:

  • See the National Park Service site for the Fort Necessity National Battlefield (and Jumonville Glen and Braddock's Grave). [This site also has information on the National Road.]
  • Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Web site. [Braddock's goal was to capture Fort Duquesne at the Forks of the Ohio--when the British finally accomplished this objective, they renamed the fortifications Fort Pitt, after the Prime Minister.]
  • For way-stations on Braddock's route, see Williamsport, Cox's Fort, Oldtown, Fort Cumberland, and Routes West in this collection.





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