- Every Home a Fort, Every Man a Warrior: Stories of the Forts and Men in the Upper Ohio Valley during the American Revolutionary War
Violence pervaded the upper Ohio River valley during the American War for Independence. Using a series of anecdotes and descriptions of fortifications, Michael Edward Nogay addresses this subject in Every Home a Fort, Every Man a Warrior. With a focus on the present northern panhandle of West Virginia, the author paints a picture of a militarized European- American people whose private and public fortifications played a critical role in their survival during the American Revolution.
Nogay assumes a traditional viewpoint throughout the book. European Americans remain his primary focus while Native Americans play a decidedly secondary role. This primarily results from the author’s heavy reliance on early twentieth-century local histories and the work of the very popular Allen Eckert. Nogay does appear to have heavily researched the Draper Manuscripts and uses these primary sources effectively. In using the documents, the author sets himself apart from earlier interpretations of the region’s history. Unlike Eckert, whose narrative prose requires him to choose one account as accurate, Nogay presents the reader with numerous descriptions of the same events in the upper Ohio. Due to the heavy mythologizing of this period and region’s history, the author’s approach proves refreshing. [End Page 114]
The structure of Nogay’s work closely follows that of other treatments of early fortifications. Like Thomas Lynch Montgomery’s two volume Report to the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania and William Hunter’s Forts on the Pennsylvania Frontier: 1753–1758, the bulk of Nogay’s effort has been to formulate a list of fortifications on the upper Ohio during the Revolution. Special attention is paid to the larger forts at Holiday’s Cove and Wheeling. Replete with descriptions and anecdotes, this listing might prove informative to anyone interested in the region’s history. The remaining chapters introduce the reader to significant regional characters, such as Simon Girty and Lewis Wetzel. The narrative is at times, however, slowed by the author’s tendency to include nearly full citations of sources in his text.
For many readers then, Nogay’s work may seem repetitive and localized. His attempts, however, to get at some of the mythical accounts of early western history merits consideration and expansion. The local nature of the book deserves attention as well. At all times, the author attempts to tie his subject matter to contemporary landmarks. By doing so, Nogay has produced an extremely valuable history for communities in the region.