Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fort Necessity National Battlefield and the National Road.

Fort Necessity was indefensible having been built too close to the tree line.

July 4, 2017

Independence Day found us driving west through the Laurel Highlands to Farmington Pennsylvania and the Fort Necessity Battlefield. The Laurel Highlands include some of Pennsylvania's highest peaks. Deep river gorges provide ample opportunity for tubing and kayaking. Frank Lloyd Wright designed 3 houses here including the famous Falling Waters.

Deep in Fayette County in the unincorporated community of Farmington is the site of the battle that started the War of 1812. A small band of soldiers under the leadership of George Washington intended  to lay claim to the Ohio River Valley. French troops with similar intentions were also in the area. Both factions were in contact with members of the Seneca Nation. They were not at War.

Late May, 1754: Washington and his troops set out to confront the French soldiers, coming upon them in the early morning hours. The truth of the events that took place that morning are in question but shots were exchanged and at the end of the skirmish 13 Frenchmen were killed, including Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville and many others captured.
Fearing reprisal Washingtom withdrew to his encampment and improved the defenses with trenches and a log structure which came to be known as Fort Necessity. Reinforcements arrived with additional supplies and the troops were put to work traveling deeper into the Ohio Valley.
July came with news of approching French forces, accompanied by members of the Huron, Algonquin, Nipissing, Shawnee, Odawa, and Abenaki.  Washington's fears had been realized. The leader of French forces, a brother of de Jumonville overcame Fort Necessity and negotiated terms of surrender. Those terms included Washington's confession to the assassination of de Jumonville. 

Trees provided cover for French troops to fire from.
Washington and his aides later claimed that the word assassinate was misinterpreted by the translator but the signed document caused a lot of political grief for the colonists. 
Increasing tensions between the English colonists and France over who would control North America lead to a war that spread around the world.

Washington and his General, Edward Braddock the British Commander in Chief of the 13 colonies, had been forced to build a road in order to move troops and supplies to the Ohio River Valley. Braddock.

The restored and preserved Washington Tavern can be seen at Fort Necessity National Battlefield
That road was incorporated into the National Road, the first federally funded highway built by the new American Government. President Thomas Jefferson's administration, recognizing that roads were necessary for Western expansion made provisions for the road. 
Thousands of settlers moved west along that road by Stagecoach and Conestoga Wagon.  Businesses followed including Taverns which provided meals and overnight accommodations to tired travelers.

Mount Washington Tavern on the National Road
Mount Washington Tavern was a stagecoach tavern.  It is preserved and open to the public as part of the National Battlefield property.
We had a great time driving the National Road imaging what it would be like to make that trip in a much less comfortable wagon than our own.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield
National Pike
Farmington, PA

Fort Necessity National Battlefield
1 Washington Parkway
 Farmington, PA

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