Saturday, August 30, 2014

Visit to Fort Loudoun 1756 British Fort

Along Braddock's Road in Central Pennsylvania is an important fort built in 1756 on land donated by Matthew Patton.  Fort Loudoun was one of many "frontier forts" that popped up during 1756 as the French Allies of the Ottawas, Mississaugas, Wyandots, and Potawatomis tribes conducted raids throughout the Cumberland Valley to "break the backcountry" of the British possessions in central and western Pennsylvania.  Mr. Patton donated the key piece of property to the British Army after his own homestead was raided by such a group the previous year and his house burned to the ground.  My Brother and I had a chance to visit Fort Loudoun a few weeks ago. 

My brother and I walk the interior.
The fort was built by Colonel Armstrong in a hurry during the month of November and had to be finished before the winter set in.  It was a simple fort measuring only 127' x 127' and set along side a stream.  The location was strategic in that it protected the "New Road" and was at a key intersection of several valleys that served as key avenues of approach for the Indian raiding parties to enter the valley.  See the map below.  The red dot in the lower left corner is Fort Loudoun.  Notice the mountain valley to the north feeds directly into the position of the fort.

Its construction lacked much of the elegance of a typical fort of the era.  The picture below shows a current day replica of the fort and its unique firing platforms.  These were much criticized but apparently Colonel Armstrong had to make some compromises to erect the fort in a timely manner.
Inside picture of firing platform.

External view of firing platform with Parnell's Knob in the background.
In a letter from Colonel Armstrong to the Governor dated November 19, 1756, COL Armstrong describes the location of the fort. 
    "According to yr Honour's Orders I have...fixed on a place near Parnell's Knob where one Patton lived, the spot I hope will be agreeable to your Honour as it is near the New Road......I am making the best preparation in my power to forward the new fort as well as prepare the Barracks, &c, all the others for the approaching Winter and today we begin to dig the cellar in the new fort; logs & roof of a new house having there been erected by Patton before the Indians burns his old one.  We shall appraise this house, and then take the benefit of it, either for Officer's Barracks or a store house, by which means the provisions may the sooner be moved to this place (referring to McDowell's Mill) which at present divides our strength."

Patton's House is approximately 200 feet Southeast of the fort.
  You can see the palisade of the fort just beyond the house.
My brother and daughter and I had a grand time exploring the area in and around the fort.  Below are a few additional pictures.  I highly recommend you visit the fort if you get a chance or at least visit the website where there are many other pictures for your to enjoy.  Historic Fort Loudoun Website
The well is located in the Northeast corner of the fort.
When archeologists excavated the well they found a fully formed bucket at the bottom along with many other items.
Trace of the "New Road" as it leads away from the fort
Standing next to the well looking Southeast towards Parnell's Knob.  Notice the front gate.
View from the edge of the stream looking up at the fort.
The stream, the "Conococheague"  Easily fordable about 2 feet deep at its deepest point.
New Road trace heading back in the direction of the fort.
Fort Loudoun in the foreground with the mountain range to the north.
During the FIW the other side of those mountains was "Injun Territory"