Fort Necessity National Battlefield, located
near Farmington, Pennsylvania, commemorates
the first military engagement of the French
and Indian War (known as the Seven Years'
War outside of the United States). Established
by an act of Congress in 1931, the park
consists of three separate sections totaling
about 900 acres (4 km²). Here, George
Washington commanded almost 400 troops in
a failed early attempt to thwart French
colonial expansion. What became known as
the Battle of the Great Meadows which was
fought on July 3, 1754, sparked a long struggle
between British and French colonial interests
in North America. It is also the location
of George Washington's only military surrender.
Colonial troops commanded by Colonel George
Washington, then 22 years old, were defeated
here in the opening battle of the French
and Indian War on July 3, 1754. The park
includes the nearby monument to Major General
Edward Braddock and the early 19th-century
Mount Washington Tavern and Jumonville Glen,
site of the first skirmishing of the French
and Indian War, May 28, 1754.
The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer
of 1754 was the opening action of the French
and Indian War. This war was a clash of
British, French and American Indian cultures.
It ended with the removal of French power
from North America. The stage was set for
the American Revolution.
Built in an open clearing surrounded by
dense hardwood forest, the fort was a circular
palisade constructed primarily of white
oak. Crude and simplistic, the fort centerpiece
was a 10 by 14 foot (3 by 4 m) shed surrounded
by a 7 to 8 foot (2 to 2.5 m) tall palisade
fence that was 53 feet (16 m) in diameter.
Earthworks were built outside the main stockade
in a diamond shape and two streams run in
between the earthworks and the palisade.
The project took the men five days to complete.
Fort Necessity Ghost Photo
Sent to us from Guy Krause.
After the failed attempt to build and secure
a fort at the "Forks of the Ohio"
(present day location of Pittsburgh) in
January 1754, colonial Governor Dinwiddie
of Virginia sent 22 year old Lt. Colonel
George Washington to build a roadway through
the forest that would allow greater numbers
of troops and equipment to enter the region.
After completing the road in May 1754, Washington
and his party scouted out an area which
was known as the great meadows and decided
that this would be a good choice for an
encampment. Told by Indian guides that an
advance party of French soldiers was nearby,
Washington and approximately 40 of the colonials
set out to locate them. On the morning of
May 28, 1754, Washington's party encountered
a small group of French troops, under the
leadership of Joseph Coulon de Villiers,
Sieur de Jumonville. In the Battle of Jumonville
Glen, 10 French soldiers were killed and
21, including Jumonville, who was wounded,
were captured. It has never been determined
who initiated the first shots, but what
has become known as the Jumonville affair,
has been credited as the commencement of
the French and Indian War, or as it is known
in Europe, the Seven Years' War.
After returning to the great meadows, Washington
decided it prudent to reinforce his position.
Supposedly named by Washington as Fort Necessity
or Fort of Necessity, the crude palisade
they erected was hoped to be at least temporarily
sufficient to protect their position. By
June 12, 1754, Washington had under his
command 293 colonials and nominal command
of 100 additional regular British army troops
from South Carolina. Washington spent the
remainder of June 1754 fortifying his position
and extending the wilderness road further
towards the forks of the Ohio.
On July 3, 1754, in the Battle of the Great
Meadows, 600 French troops led by Capt.
Louis Coulon de Villiers, the brother of
Jumonville, along with 100 Indians, attacked
the fort. Throughout the day, heavy rain
swamped the low lying fort making the use
of firearms difficult and ruining much of
the gunpowder and provisions. Late in the
day, seeing that their position was untenable,
Washington accepted a truce which allowed
the peaceful withdrawal of his forces which
he completed on July 4, 1754. The French
subsequently occupied the fort and then
Visitor Center at Fort Necessity National
Battlefield.Attempts to preserve the location
of the fort 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 archeological
research helped to uncover the majority
of the original fort position, shape and
design. A replica of the fort was completed
in the 1970's. A new visitor center, which
also is home to a National Road interpretive
center opened on October 8, 2005. A new
road was added called privet avenue due
to lack of traffic.
While the South Carolinians remained at
the Great Meadows. Washington and his Virginians
spent most of June opening a road from Fort
Necessity to Gist's Plantation, a frontier
settlement in the direction of the forks
of the Ohio. Reports that a large force
of French and Indians was advancing from
Fort Duquesne, however, caused him to withdraw
his men to the Great Meadows, where they
arrived July 1.
The Ghost of Fort Necessity
sent to us by Kelly Oddo.
The next day, they strengthened Fort Necessity
by improving the trenches outside the stockade.
On the morning of July 3, a force of about
600 French and 100 Indians approached the
fort. After the French took up positions
in the woods, Washington withdrew his men
to the entrenchments. Rain fell throughout
the day, flooding the marshy ground. Both
sides suffered casualties, but the British
losses were greater than French and Indian
of our Text Courtesy of National Park Service
Fort Necessity Moument ghost
srnt to us from Alan Marks.