Individuals surnamed O'Neill or O'Neal have had long and illustrious careers in military participation in the recorded history of the World. This site is dedicated to the memory of those so named, who fought in the French Indian War, prior to the American Revolution. If you have any information of any O'Neil, O'Neal, O'Neill, O'Neall, O'Neale or Neal, who was a participant in any battle of the French Indian Wars, please write in, and your info will be included here.
My direct ancestor was a wagonner in the French Indian War. His name was William O'Neall and he was my 5th great grandfather. According to a biography written about his father and his own family William O'Neall was a young man in Winchester, Virginia at the time of the Wars. Young William O'Neall joined the fighting, which was lead by General Braddock and a young major, by the name of George Washington. They drove, walked and rode to Fort Duquesne, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attempted to take the fort in a costly fiasco. William O'Neall was the companion of Daniel Morgan, and they both drove wagon, Daniel Morgan later became a General in the American Revolution. After marrying Mary Frost, William O'Neall became a Quaker, but I have often wondered if the atrocities he witnessed at Fort Duquesne helped persuade his change of faith.
Source: Duncan & Schultz A Glance Back Over Our Shoulders (Pride in our Past-Faith in our Future)1720-1984.
The Battle of Fort Duquesne
Hot June and summer dust caught the rays of sunlight‚ and fell down to the dirty trail as the wagons rolled slowly thru the Alleghany wilds‚ the men were tired. Major George Washington led the way, young and intelligent‚ he knew the ways of Indian warefare and kept a close watch toward the underbrush‚ not yet cleared up ahead. The Virginian′s machete cracked the overgrowth‚ opening a few inches more of the little used Indian footpath‚ toward destiny.
Washington′s commander‚ General Edward Braddock‚ at forty-five years old fully intended to remove the French soldiers of Captain Lienard de Beaujeu at Fort Duquesne, come hell or high water. In 1755 the virgin wilderness of the Alleghany was a tough task for the 1‚400 British and 500 colonial troops who made up the traditional military battle columns. They cleared just four miles a day‚ a very difficult four miles. Two of Washington's wagonners were William O'Neall, of Winchester‚ Virginia and his companion Daniel Morgan.
As Braddock and Washington struggled thru the forest, Charles de Langlade gathered his Indians for battle. The Ottawa‚ the Huron and the Chippewa, 200 warrior tribesmen in all, they efficently took to their canoes and paddled from dawn til dark everyday, arriving to meet Beaujeu with his French soldiers at Fort Duquesne in early June. They laid in wait, gathering strength, for the British and colonial army.
Indian scouts spied the 3 columns of red-coated British and colonial army soliders from their forest hiding areas as the English approached the Monogahele River‚ the Indians and French hid in the dense ravines along the Monogahele‚ and the wagons rolled on toward Fort Duquesne, by July 7th Braddock was 10 miles from the Fort. Langlade was ready to attack‚ but Beaujeu hesitated because they were, afterall, outnumbered 2 to 1 to the man. Langlade persisted, feeling he could only win by ambush and on July 9th Lt. Colonel Thomas Gage was ordered to lead a strong advance party, the British needed two attempts to get across the river, a small skirmish kicked up and 30 Indians fled.
The army band played a marching vigil, pounding out a rythym of encouragement to the troops, and the advance party pressed forward, now in a 2 column formation‚ grenadiers were on flank and wagons to the rear, where the Virginians followed the English regular army. The men advanced now, marching at the ready, to the beat of the drums.
The Indians were becoming anxious, wanting to attack and were ready‚ painted and nearly naked for battle to the death‚ as Beaujeu turned to wave his hat at his now advancing men he was cut down almost immediately, dying where he laid. The enemies advanced. The French Indian losses were small but the French Canadians fled. The retreat that ensued was stopped by Captain Dumas and Charles Langlade, and despite the chaos which reigned the Brits and Virginians were to be doomed.
Their advancing troops were driven back, the tomahawks raised‚ screaming and shouts, as the advance guards now attempted retreat‚ but the troops could not form ranks and in the panic the withdrawal became a rout, the British firing blindly‚ not able to see their targets. In the confusion the redcoats fired upon the hiding Provincials, who had fled to the forest to hide or after the Indians.
Braddock swore. He cajoled his men. He cursed at the retreating ranks and attempted to restore order. He hit them with the side of his sword. His mounted officers were easily picked off and Braddock himself had 4 horses shot out from under him, as he attempted to mount the fifth he took one in the lungs‚ and now, smelling victory‚ the Indians swarmed as more troops retreated, they held their scalping knives and tomahawks high.
Of the casualites, the British and Provincials suffered 977 dead including 63 of 86 officers killed in the battle of Fort Duquesne. It was the worst defeat ever, to date, by the British on colonial soil. Major George Washington‚ who had tried to tell Braddock of the Indians warfare techniques took news of the defeat back to Dunbar‚ who had learned even Braddock's war chest had been captured and that now the French had all the future battle plans for the British military in their possession. At Gist′s Plantation, Dunbar ordered the total destruction of all cannons, ammunition, powder wagons and shells‚ a costly and sorrowful error.