A small fort with a big story, the history of Fort Necessity

Destination PA

FARMINGTON, FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — It may be small and often forgotten, but Fort Necessity is home to a big part of history.

In 1754, a young George Washington was leading a regiment of Virginians on a campaign to build military road. Washington was ordered to ambush a French patrol and was successful. But Washington feared a large French retaliation was imminent and decided to bunker down and built a fort in The Great Meadows, the site of Fort Necessity.

Brian Reedy, Chief of Interpretation and Site Manager of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield, explained, “”Here on July 3rd, 1754 the French would arrive and Washington would fight an eight hour battle. Unfortunately for Washington, he would end up surrendering and it would be his only formal surrender of his military career.”

Reedy says that this small battle helped kick-start the French and Indian War and was a stepping stone in the path towards the American Revolution. The British won the French and Indian War, resulting in Great Britain becoming a large empire with large costs.

Great Britain would turn to the colonies as a source of revenue, which as you may remember did not make the colonies very happy. The French, who clearly didn’t like the British, joined in the colonies’ revolution effort which help shape the country we know today.

Reedy explained, “Here’s an opportunity to get back at Great Britain and knock them down a peg. Without the use of French muskets, French loans of money, the use of their army and navy, we would not be celebrating the 4th of July.”

Reedy says Fort Necessity played an important role in the path to revolution. “As cute of a little fort that this is and involves a young George Washington,” he said, “it’s really that first step on that road to revolution and the country that we have today.”

At the site today, visitors get to experience this history at the fort with the visitor’s center, guided ranger tours, and even weapons demonstrations.

Currently the only limitations due to COVID-19 is the request to maintain social distance and limited viewings of their film to limit crowds.

The plus, however, is most of what can be enjoyed at the site is in the great outdoors. Reedy details, “We have close to three miles of hiking trails here. Some of them utilized the military road that Washington had built that later becomes known as Braddock’s road so you can actually walk through the footsteps of history.”

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. The visitors center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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