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6 FortLoudoun,Virginia A French and Indian War Period Fortification Constructed by George Washington Robert L. Jolley Fort Loudoun, Winchester, Virginia, is one of three French and Indian War period forts named after John Campbell, Lord Loudoun, commander of British troops in North America. The fort was designed and constructed by Col. George Washington in 1756–58 and served as the command center and supply depot for Virginia troops during the war. The fort was never attacked, but men who garrisoned the fort participated in General Forbes’s 1758 Fort Duquesne expedition and in an unsuccessful 1760 expedition to relieve the Cherokee siege of Fort Loudoun, Tennessee. Washington commanded the fort from 1756 to 1758 and William Byrd III commanded the fort after Washington resigned his commission. Historical research and limited archaeological investigations were conducted to address research questions and to raise community awareness of this largely forgotten but important historical site. The investigations were conducted by the Winchester Regional Preservation Office of the Department of Historic Resources with the support of the Northern Shenandoah Valley chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia. Figures were drafted by Marcus Lemasters of the Frederick County Department of Geographic Information Systems. Historical Background In March 1756, the Virginia House of Burgesses authorized construction of a fort “for the protection of the adjacent inhabitants against the barbarities daily committed by the French and Indian allies” (Hening 1819:33). The Fort Loudoun, Virginia: A French and Indian War Fort Built by George Washington · 103 location chosen for the fort was the immediate high ground north of Winchester . Colonel Washington justified this location based on its proximity to the closest French fort (Fort Duquesne), and convenience to its commander who was stationed at Winchester (Abbot 1984a:60). Fort Loudoun was the first formal fort designed by Washington, and there are two sets of plans. Both depict a four-bastion square fort with structures located along each curtain and a gate facing the town. One plan incorporates concerns raised by William Fairfax (Abbot 1984a:247) and is likely the one used for construction. In this plan, the buildings are shown for the officers’ guard room, the soldiers’ guard room, the prison kitchen, the powder magazine, magazines for provisions, a two-tiered soldiers barracks with large fireplaces for cooking, the well, a sally port, and two large houses to be converted into barracks or store houses “as occasion shall require” (figure 6.1). Colonel Washington was an inexperienced officer with no formal military training, yet the fort plans indicate that he designed the fort himself. He may have used information contained in military manuals. The fort design is similar to Fort LeBoeuf, which he visited in 1753 and described in Figure 6.1. Washington’s design plan for Fort Loudoun. (Library of Congress.) 104 · Robert L. Jolley his diary (Fitzpatrick 1925:59). He selected a practical plan similar to Pennsylvania frontier forts (Waddell and Bomberger 1996). Washington sent plans of the fort for William Fairfax to review, apparently seeking advice from others more experienced in military matters. Completing the fort took more than two years (spring 1756–fall 1758) and was a constant concern of Washington’s. He complained about the slow progress of construction on several occasions. On 24 September 1757, after construction had proceeded for over a year, Washington informed Robert Dinwiddie that illness and the need to dispatch troops for other duties prohibited completing principal parts of the fort before winter (Abbot 1984b:420). Even after two years, the fort was not finished, and questions arose as to whether it would be completed. On 28 May 1758, Washington asked John St. Clair, “Are the works at Ft. Loudoun to go on?” (Abbot 1988a:201). In June 1758, the Council of Colonial Virginia postponed construction due to a lack of funds (Hillman 1966:98). That the fort remained unfinished on 12 December 1758 was indicated in a letter by Robert Stewart informing Washington that there was no material to finish the barracks (Abbot 1988b:167). Problems with construction mentioned in the correspondence provide information on the sequence of building, the structures that were erected, and the materials used. The most informative account is in a letter written by Charles Smith to Washington on 23 February 1758: The third barrack is intirely covered in, and the last one now aframing in order to raise, the parapet on the last curtains up, the last Bastin is lay’d over with logs and two of the ambuziers [embrasures] done...


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