James Brady (1758 - 1778)

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Birthplace: Shippensburg, Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Death: Died in Fort Augusta, Sunbury, North Umberland, Pennsylvania
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About James Brady

Captain John Brady took his sons Samuel and James with him to fight in the trenches with General George Washington in Boston. Samuel and James Brady enlisted in the Continental Army as privates on August 3, 1775.

James Brady was killed by Indians on August 8, 1778. As the story goes, James Brady had a full head of handsome red hair, which, as was the custom of the day, he wore long and tied up at the back. James Brady and others, had his hair "done up" by a Mrs. Buckalow. "He was lively and full of nonsense, and she said to him, 'Ah, Jim, I fear the Indians will get this red scalp of yours yet.' 'If they do', he replied, 'it will make a bright light on a dark night'. In less than a week he fell a prey to the tomahawk, and the savages held his scalp as a trophy."


The Indians killed the family of a Peter Smith on June 10, 1778. His farm was on the banks of Bull Run, close to present day Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Men were sent from Fort Muncy to help him bring in his crop. A corporal and a party of three militia men were also sent from Fort Muncy to protect them all. James Brady was in this party of soldiers and was, as the bravest among them, selected their "captain", as was the custom when no commissioned officer was present. Four of their party returned to Fort Muncy that night. In the morning, the Indians attacked the remaining party under the cover of the morning fog.


A panic seemed to seize the party and they all fled, with the exception of young Brady, who ran for his rifle, pursued by three Indians. When he was within a few feet of it he was fired at, but falling over a sheaf of grain the shot missed him. He immediately arose, and as he was in the act of grasping his rifle, he was wounded by a shot in the arm from an Indian. He succeeded in getting a hold of his gun and shot the first Indian dead. Then he caught up another gun and brought down a second savage, when the party closed around him. Being stout, active and brave, he fought them vigorously for a few minutes. Finally he was struck in the head with a tomahawk and almost immediately afterwards received a thrust from a spear, which so stunned him that he fell. He had no sooner fallen than he was pounced upon and his scalp ruthlessly torn from his head. It was considered a great trophy by the Indians, as he had very long and remarkably red hair. A little Indian was then called and made to strike a tomahawk into his head in four places. The Indians then hurriedly fled.


Miraculously, young James survived this attack. He made it to a cabin where their aged cook, Jerome Vanness was hiding. Vanness dressed James' wounds as best he could, refusing James's request that he flee for his own life. He returned James' rifle and, at James request, took him to the river bank. A relief force arrived from Fort Muncy the next morning. James, believing them to be Indians returning, jumped up with his rifle, ready to battle them. They took him to the home of his mother, Mary Quigley Brady in Sunbury, Pennsylvania by boat. She rushed to the river to meet them. The grief of this hardened frontier woman was reported to have been "pitable to behold." James Brady only lasted five days after his arrival at his mother's home. He finally succumbed to his wounds on August 13, 1778. His brother, Samuel Brady. rushed home, but arrived after his brother's death. However, he swore he would avenge his brother's death. Unfortunately, the location of James' grave, supposed to have been near Fort Augusta, Pennsylvania, has been long forgotten. Belle Swope says, "He was deeply mourned for he was a great favorite with all who knew him."

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James Brady's Timeline

1758
1758
Shippensburg, Cumberland, Pennsylvania
1778
August 13, 1778
Age 20
Fort Augusta, Sunbury, North Umberland, Pennsylvania
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Sunbury, North Umberland, Pennsylvania