- Historic Sites
Or, a dogged attempt to assemble a most remarkable company—the famous survivors of the battle lost by a British general on the Monongahela. Everybody who was anybody was there, from George Washington to Daniel Boone. Everybody, that is, but B. Gratz Brown
February 1961 | Volume 12, Issue 2
“In 1759, the French king made Dumas a major general and inspector of all forces in Canada. After the fall of Montreal, Dumas returned to France, where he was promoted again. He became governor of Mauritius, the beautiful and strategically important island in the Indian Ocean, then owned by the French.”
For the record, I put down the names of the twenty men who, by some remarkable conjunction of stars, met on the battlefield on the north bank of the Monongahela, survived, and went on to achieve personal distinction and a place in history. And I added:
“Of these twenty men, four had been at the Battle of Fort Necessity … eight were wounded at the Battle of the Monongahela … six were with General Forbes at the taking of Fort Duquesne … four fought at Quebec … six were intimately involved in Pontiac’s Conspiracy … eight became general officers in the American Revolution … one became commander in chief of British forces … two were considered for the post of commander in chief of the Revolutionary forces … four made major historical contributions through their writings … one entered the U.S. Congress … and one became President of the United States.”
About a week after this great moral victory I chanced to meet Mr. G. on his way to lunch. We walked down the street together.
“Life must be very dull for you,” he said.
“For several days it was,” I said, “but now I am deeply preoccupied with a strange and little-recognized circumstance of history which astonishes me every time I think of it.”
“I refer to the truly amazing number of prominent Americans, past and present, whose direct ancestors were survivors of the Battle of the Monongahela.”
“Like for instance?”
“Well,” I said, “like this. The builder of Blair House in Washington and the Postmaster General in Lincoln’s Cabinet were both direct descendants of Christopher Gist. So was a man named States R. (for Rights) Gist, who played a prominent part in the secession movement and, as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, was killed at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. And when a monument to General Braddock was put up and dedicated in 1913, one of the special honored guests at the ceremony was a gentleman named Monongahela de Beaujeu. I’d like to look into him!”
“Monongahela de Beaujeu,” said Mr. G. in an awed voice.
“And, of course, there was B. Gratz Brown.”
“B. Gratz who?”
“You mean you’ve never heard of B. Gratz Brown?” I said, concealing my triumph. “B. Gratz Brown, direct descendant of Christopher Gist, was only the Democratic vice presidential candidate on the Horace Greeley ticket, that’s all B. Gratz Brown was.”