About General Braddock and His Road
To trace the history of Braddock Road, project yourself back before Captain John Smith sailed up the Potomac River in 1608 with a small party of English explorers. Indian villages lay along the waterways within what were later to become the boundaries of Fairfax County. Reminders of these native inhabitants linger today in names like Pohick, Accotink and Occoquan. Watercourses served as highways in those times. While "roads" were very few in those early days, precursors to Braddock Road can be identified on most of the earliest maps. A map drawn between 1745 and 1748 shows an old Indian trail following the general path of the present-day Braddock Road. On old maps throughout the 1700's, the road is identified as "Alexandria Road" and "Mountain Road". This road, later to be called Braddock's Road, was incorporated in the year 1752, according to the minutes of the 1752 Fairfax courthouse (Truro Vestry Book).
The road received its name during the French and Indian War when English General Edward Braddock led British and colonial troops in a disastrous expedition against the French Fort Duquesne, Con the site of the present city of Pittsburgh). In the year 1755, General Braddock accompanied military units departing from the city of Alexandria to Winchester, Virginia and then on to Fort Duquesne. Historical accounts differ as to whether General Braddock's forces indeed used the route of the present day Braddock Road, or if they used instead the "Middle Turnpike" (now Route 7).
Besides his British troops, nearly 500 Virginians were with Braddock when he started on the march, but he did not care much for these, nor for the help of the Indians. He knew nothing about fighting in the woods and thought his trained troops were worth more than any others. On July 9,1755 General Braddock's army was met near Fort Duquesne by a party of Canadians and Indians under Captain Beaujeau. The British fought bravely, but could not see anybody to shoot at, for the Canadians and Indians fought from behind trees, while the British stood in the narrow road, their bright coats excellent targets. The Virginians fought from behind trees and logs, preventing a total massacre, but Braddock would not allow his soldiers to protect themselves. They stood as if on parade. At last General Braddock himself was wounded and died within a few hours. His aide, George Washington, led away what was left of the little army.
A legend tells of General Braddock's remains being buried (and later discovered by road crews) in the middle of "his" road. Another legend tells of a cannon full of gold being buried along Braddock Road when General Braddock's troops became mired in mud as they traveled through Fairfax County on their way to Ft. Duquesne.