A few weeks back, I encouraged readers to attend a work day at Fort Loudoun, a French and Indian War era fort outside of Chambersburg PA. I attended the work day and I was impressed with the beauty of the site, and the number of hometown volunteers that attended the work day. I arrived at the the Fort Loudoun Historic Site at around 8:15 in the morning, greeted with a breakfast that the volunteers had prepared. I met many of the regular volunteers at Fort Loudoun, including their board President Andrew Newman who took time to tell me with excitement about the history of the site and their plans to rebuild the fort and reclaim the 200 acres of ground that surround it. Newman grew up in the area and is excited to re-establish this great piece of history in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
The fort itself had fallen into disrepair after it’s reconstruction in the 1980’s. Parts of the fort were too dangerous to let visitors into. Bastions, like the one above are unstable and there is concern with them falling. So the board sought out funding to completely rebuild the fort, with stronger timbers in hopes that it will last for many years. The wood that was the fort was deteriorating and it was time to update it. There are also several buildings on the property that were being used for storage and a small museum inside the Patton House, named for the family that owned the land where the fort had stood. Most of the work done on these work days included cleaning out the basement of the Patton house, as well as other rooms in the house to renew the interior for use. One of the additions on the Patton House is an 18th century kitchen hearth, which can be used for teaching and cooking.
Fort Loudoun sits along the banks of the West branch of the Conococheague Creek. In a house along the creek not far from the fort itself, General Forbes would meet with representatives of the Cherokee and Catawba to help assure safe passage of British soldiers as they built the Forbes Road to take the forks of the Ohio. Forbes had learned from the lessons of General Braddock and wanted to work with the native population while he made his way west. Forbes also planned fortifications along the way to the west, to protect not only the soldiers but the supplies as well. Another building along the creek is the spring house seen below. The spring house was used to chill items in the cold creek waters that flowed from nearby mountains.
The Forbes Road itself began in earnest at Fort Loudoun, serving as a supply depot and quartermaster for the British Army as they made their way West to Fort Duquesne and the forks of the Ohio. Fort Loudoun was one of many forts that would be built along the Forbes Road. The original troops to serve at Fort Loudoun were Pennsylvania Provincial soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong. Armstrong would eventually lea forces in one of the first battles of the French and Indian war in a campaign on Kittanning (Kittanninee) a known stronghold of the Lenape’ (Delaware) and Shawnee tribes.
Traders traveling West from Fort Loudoun often took weapons and powder to trade with the native population. Many of the people in the area of Fort Loudoun were against arming the Native Americans. In 1755, Captain James Smith was captured while building a road from Fort Loudoun to Raystown (Now Bedford PA), he was returned in a prisoner exchange and went back to live his life near Fort Loudoun. He was one of several people concerned about the shipments of powder and weapons being taken from shipments to the West. He organized a group of men to halt the shipments, they became know as the “Black Boys” because of the black make-up they wore to camouflage themselves. When traders returned to Fort Loudoun and informed the commander, Captain Grant of the raids against their goods. Grant sent troops to arrest suspects in the town and jailed them within the guard house at the fort. Smith would eventually raise 300 riflemen to continue his mission of capturing armaments headed West, Captain Grant would deploy Highlanders to stop Smith’s raids. Both sides captured men which led to a prisoner exchange under a flag of truce. After an agreement under the truce, the trade of weapons, powder and ammunition was halted, temporarily.
Fort Loudoun has an extensive history, and groups have tried to preserve that history for some time. The photos above were taken prior to the reconstruction of Fort Loudoun in the 1980’s. The tradition of preserving the land and fort has fallen to a new board, who are working hard to restore and maintain a historic spot.
To check out Fort Loudoun and learn more about the site and events happening there check out their website: Fort Loudoun
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