restricted access 9. Fort Loudoun: A Provincial Fort on the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier
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9 FortLoudoun A Provincial Fort on the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier Stephen G. Warfel Motorists on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, between Chambersburg and McConnellsburg , Pennsylvania, see signs for Fort Loudon. Few know that this quiet Franklin County community is named for a nearby French and Indian War fort, built in 1756 to protect settlers from Indian raids. Even fewer are aware that the fort served as an important supply depot during the Forbes Expedition, which drove the French from western Pennsylvania . Unless the travelers are John Wayne movie buffs and have seen Allegheny Uprising (1939), it is unlikely they are familiar with a rebellion of local citizens against the British garrison at Fort Loudoun, considered by some historians as the first act of the American Revolution (cf. Swanson 1937; Webster 1964). This chapter reports on the results of historical and archaeological investigations conducted at the site of Fort Loudoun by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission between 1977 and 1982. Emphasis is placed on describing structural features and the fort’s anatomy. A detailed artifact analysis is not offered; rather, artifacts are referenced with regard to their role in understanding site activity and chronology. A brief narrative concerning the fort’s historical context is presented and followed by an examination of the site’s archaeological content. Finally, the significance of the findings is evaluated with respect to Fort Loudoun’s dynamic history and evolution over time. Fort Loudoun: Provincial Fort on the Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier · 159 Historical Context The Fort Loudoun story begins in 1755, when Indian attacks on Pennsylvania frontier settlements increased. Pennsylvania’s Quaker government was ill-prepared. It had no standing militia or army to protect its interests (Hunter 1971:432). To remedy this situation, the provincial government hastily authorized forts along the eastern foot of the Blue Mountains. These forts were not large enough, nor were there a sufficient number enough to eliminate the threat of attack. They did, however, serve as safe places for settlers during Indian raids. Fort Loudoun, named for John Campbell, Earl of Loudoun, commander of British military forces in North America, was the southernmost in a chain of Pennsylvania forts built in 1756 (figure 9.1) (Hunter 1960:463). No plans or drawings of Fort Loudoun have been found to date, and only a few documents shed light on the site’s history and appearance. The fort was constructed on land warranted to Matthew Patton on 18 February 1744 (Kent 1978:43). Over an 11-year period, Patton developed a farmstead consisting of a house and barn, which in 1755 were burned during a devastating raid on settlements in the Conococheague valley (Hoban 1935:4929). Like many of their neighbors, the Pattons evacuated the homestead upon learning that an attack was imminent. Instructed to take advantage of existing structures whenever possible, Col. John Armstrong selected the abandoned Patton farm as the new fort Figure 9.1. Location of Fort Loudoun with respect to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. (Drawing by author, 2007.) 160 · Stephen G. Warfel site in November 1756. In a letter to Pennsylvania governor William Denny on 19 November 1756, Armstrong wrote: I’m makeing the best preparation in my power to forward this New Fort, as well as to prepare by Barracks, & c., all the others for the approaching Winter. . . . To-day we begin to Digg a Cellar in the New Fort; the Loggs & Roof of a New House there having been Erected by Patton before the Indians burn’d his Old One. We shall first apprise this House, and then take the benefit of it, either for Officers’ Barracks or a Store House. (Hazard 1853a:58) One month later Armstrong filed the following report: The Publick Stores are safely removed from McDowels Mill to Fort Loudon, the barracks for the soldiers are built, and some proficiency made in the Stockade, the finishing of which will doubtless be Retarded by the inclemency of the weather, the Snow with us being upward of a foot deep. (Hazard 1853a:83–84) The historical account providing the most complete description of the fort is found in the journal of Thomas Barton, an Anglican minister who stayed at Fort Loudoun on 21 July 1758. Barton was serving in the British army under Gen. John Forbes. At this time, the fort was a supply depot for troops moving west toward Fort Duquesne. Barton wrote: The Fort is a poor Piece of Work, irregularly built, & badly situated at the Bottom of a Hill Subject to Damps & noxious Vapors...


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- French and Indian War, 1754-1763.
  • Fortification -- United States -- History.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- United States.
  • Historic sites -- United States.
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