Although Virginia is justly famed for its Civil War battlefields, it also enjoys numerous associations with the nation's early colonial history. The anonymous writer of this poem, which appeared in the November 1861 issue of The Southern Literary Messenger, seized upon an interesting coincidence connected with that history to take a backhanded swipe at General Winfield Scott, the first commander-in-chief of the Union Army.
The following note preceded the poem: "It is singular that Braddock and Scott should each have landed an army at the same port, invaded a country by the same road, fled from an enemy of inferior strength, and signalized themselves as the heroes of the two most complete and disastrous routs known to American history."
Edward Braddock (1695-1755) was a British general whose name is inextricably linked with the disastrous colonial loss at Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War in 1755. Despite being warned by staff officer George Washington that his Indian opponents preferred to attack from ambush, Braddock failed to take proper precautions and exposed his forces unnecessarily. When the Indians opened fire from behind trees, only a few miles short of Fort Duquesne, Braddock lost more than half his troops and over three-quarters of his officers and was himself mortally wounded. Washington led the survivors of the assault to safety.
Braddock's forces launched their campaign from the port city of Alexandria, as did Federal troops under Scott more than 100 years later in July 1861 when they followed a route similar to Braddock's on their way to a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Confederate Army at Manassas.
"The Red Zouave"