CHAPTER 1: The Conquest
The Anglo-American Attack
An Offensive Against the Ohio Valley
Meanwhile, the British directed their main offensive against the Ohio Valley. The stakes for New France were considerable, because Ohio linked Louisiana to the Great Lakes and to Canada. A defeat could sound the death knell for the French alliances with the many Amerindian nations in the area. In May 1755, General Braddock's troops were mustered west of Virginia: this consisted of an army of 2,200 men, including the 44th and 48th regiments, a number of regular independent companies, the Virginia Regiment under the command of George Washington, militiamen, and even a few seamen. The objective was Fort Duquesne, some 200 kilometres away over forests and swamps. The troops were to build a road along the way and erect bridges to transport equipment, for Braddock was conducting his campaign in the European fashion. The army advanced with considerable difficulty, only a few kilometres a day, and had to leave heavy siege artillery behind, even though Braddock was hoping to be able to use it to shell Fort Duquesne. Despite its slow progress, the Anglo- American army appeared to be unstoppable. In early July, it finally reached the Monongahela River, where the terrain was easier to cross, and it was just over 20 kilometres from Fort Duquesne. Finding no trace of the French, several of the British officers expected to hear a loud noise in the distance, that of the fort being blown up by the French before they evacuated the Ohio Valley.