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Fort Necessity National Battlefield
National Battlefield
Country  United States
State  Pennsylvania
County Fayette
Elevation 1,955 ft (595.9 m)
Coordinates 39°49′00″N 79°35′59″W / 39.8166667°N 79.59972°W / 39.8166667; -79.59972
Area 902.8 acres (365.4 ha) [1]
Established 1931-03-04 [1]
 - Transferred to NPS 1933-08-10 [1]
Owner National Park Service
Nearest city Uniontown, Pennsylvania
Location of Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania
Website: Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a National Battlefield Site preserving elements of the Battle of Fort Necessity in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, United States. The Battle of Fort Necessity occurred on July 3, 1754 and was an early battle of the French and Indian War.

Contents

Battle of Fort Necessity

After returning to the great meadows in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania, George Washington decided it prudent to reinforce his position. Supposedly named by Washington as Fort Necessity or Fort of Necessity, they constructed a storehouse for supplies such as gunpowder, rum, and flour. The crude palisade they erected was built more to defend supplies in the fort's storehouse from Washington's own men, whom he described as loose and idle, rather than as a planned defense against a hostile enemy. The sutler of Washington's force was John Fraser, who earlier had been second-in-command at Fort Prince George and who would later serve as Chief Scout to General Edward Braddock and then Chief Teamster to the Forbes Expedition.

By June 12, 1754, Washington had under his command 293 colonials and the nominal command of 100 additional regular British army troops from South Carolina. Washington spent the remainder of June 1754 extending the wilderness road further west and down the western slopes of the Allegheny range into the valley of the Monongahela River aiming for a river crossing point roughly 41 mi (66 km) near Redstone Creek and a mound on a bluff overlooking the river crossing known as Redstone Old Fort — an aboriginal mound structure that may have once been a fortification. Five years later in the war Fort Burd was constructed at the target destination and the area eventually became the site of Nemacolin Castle and Brownsville, Pennsylvania — an important western jumping off point in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

Colonel Washington's chosen path west in order to reach the Ohio River basins' navigable waters as soon as possible on the Monongahela River was along Nemacolin's Trail  — as opposed to following the ridge hopping high altitude path traversed by the western part of Braddock's Road which jogged to the north near the fort and passed over another notch near Confluence, Pennsylvania into the valley and drainage basin of the Allegheny River. The Redstone destination at the terminus of Nemacolin's Trail was a natural choice for an advanced base for the location was one of the few known good crossing points where both sides of the wide deep river had low accessible banks in a region where steep-to-sides characteristic of the Mon-valley were the norm.

Late in the day on July 3rd, Washington did not know the French situation. Feeling that their position was untenable, Washington accepted surrender terms which allowed the peaceful withdrawal of his forces which he completed on July 4, 1754[2]. The French subsequently occupied the fort and then burned it. Washington did not speak French, and stated later that if he had known that he was confessing to the "assassination" of Jumonville, he would not have signed the surrender document.

Park formation and structure

Attempts to preserve the location of Fort Necessity were undertaken and on March 4, 1931, Congress declared the location a National Battlefield Site under management of the War Department. Transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, the park was redesignated a National Battlefield on August 10, 1961. As with all historic sites administered by the National Park Service, the battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. Subsequent archaeological research helped to uncover the majority of the original fort position, shape and design. A replica of the fort was completed in the 1970s. A new visitor center, which also is home to a National Road interpretive center opened on October 8, 2005. The battlefield and fort are currently being improved, with a the fort replica being reconstructed to look more historically accurate, new informative signs being added, and the historic treelines and charge locations being outlined.

Mount Washington Tavern, an important stop for early travelers on the National Road.

Along with the fort, the national battlefield also features two other historic sites. On a hillside adjacent to the battlefield and within the boundaries of the park is Mount Washington Tavern, a classic example of the many inns lining the National Road, America's first federally-funded highway. The land on which the tavern was built was originally owned by George Washington, who purchased the site on which he commanded his first battle just a few months before his death in 1799. In 1827, Judge Nathnial Ewing of Uniontown constructed the tavern. James Sampey acquired the land and constructed an inn along the new highway. It was operated by his family until the railroad construction boom caused the National Road to decline in popularity, rendering the inn unprofitable. In 1855, it was sold to the Fazenbakers and served as a private home for the next 75 years, until it was acquired by the National Park Service in 1933 and restored. The Mount Washington Tavern demonstrates the standard features of an early American tavern, including a simple but congenial barroom that served as a gathering place, a more fancy parlor room that was used for relaxation, and crowded bedrooms in which people would crowd in order to catch up on sleep.

The grave of General Edward Braddock.

In a separate unit of the park lying about one mile (1.6 km) east of the battlefield lies the grave of General Edward Braddock. The legendary British commander oversaw many French and Indian War battles and led the construction of a useful, but inadequate wilderness road through Western Pennsylvania. Braddock was severely wounded in a failed siege on Fort Duquesne. He and his regiment fled along the wilderness road to a site near Great Meadows. Here, on July 13, 1755, the worn-out general died and was buried in an elaborate ceremony presided and officiated by George Washington. His grave was hidden by the British, hoping to keep the site's location out of the hands of the enemy. His body was discovered in 1804 by men making repairs to the wilderness road. A fitting marker was erected in 1913.

Cultural Influences

  • In the episode "Bart Gets an F" of The Simpsons, after failing a history test (which would result in his repeating the fourth grade) Bart says, "Now I know how George Washington felt when he surrendered Fort Necessity to the French in 1754." In what his teacher regards as applied knowledge of an accurate and relatively obscure reference, she gives him an extra point on his exam allowing him to pass the fourth grade.

References

  1. ^ a b c "Home Page for the Stewardship and Partnerships Team". National Park Service; Philadelphia Support Office. http://www.nps.gov/chal/sp/i04new4.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  
  2. ^ Leckie, 276
  • Leckie, Robert (2006). A Few Acres of Snow. The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. Edison, NJ: Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-2100-7.  
  • Stotz, Charles Morse (2005). Outposts Of The War For Empire: The French And English In Western Pennsylvania: Their Armies, Their Forts, Their People 1749-1764. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-4262-3.  

See also

External links

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