Fort Duquesne (1)

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Fort Duquesne (1) (1754-1758) - First established in 1754 during the French & Indian War by French forces in present day Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Named after the Marquis Duquesne, then governor-general of New France. Abandoned and destroyed by the French in 1758.

Fort Duquesne Bastion Tracery
Fort Duquesne Central Medalion
Fort Duquesne Tracery

French & Indian War (1754–1763)

Fort Duquesne was built by the French in 1754 just before the start of the French & Indian War on the site of a previous British fortification, Fort Prince George (1). The fort was strategically located at the junction of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River where they become the Ohio River.

The British had just completed construction of Fort Prince George (1) at the Forks of the Ohio on 16 Apr 1754 when a large French force appeared and convinced them to leave which they did on 18 Apr 1754. The French under Captain Claude-Pierre Pecaudy, Sieur de Contrecoeur, had come from Fort Niagara to build a fort and occupy the Forks of the Ohio. The fort would be at the end of a chain of four forts stretching from the Ohio to Lake Erie. The fort was initially constructed over the British fort with some of the materials the British had prepared for their fort. The French built it out as an 80 foot square with bastions at each corner. An expansion was constructed east of the fort in 1758.

The British and British colonials made three attempts to drive the French out of Fort Duquesne. The first attempt was made by George Washington who was confronted and defeated at Fort Necessity. Washington was forced to surrender and sign a document saying he had assassinated a French officer in an earlier encounter. After signing the document Washington and his command were allowed to return to Fort Cumberland (2).

The second attempt was made by British Major General Edward Braddock and 2,400 troops who cut a narrow road from Fort Cumberland (2) almost to Fort Duquesne before being ambushed by the French and their Indian allies. The Indians took deliberate aim at the British officers and managed to kill many early in the fight leading to disorganization and panic in the British ranks. Braddock himself was mortally wounded and carried from the field. George Washington organized the retreat and drew back the remnants of the army to the site of his earlier defeat at Fort Necessity. The British losses were horrific, over 900 casualties out of 1,400 men. Braddock died at Fort Necessity on 13 Jul 1755 and was buried in the middle of his road. His troops marched over his grave to hide it from the enemy as they left. Washington held no actual commission and was a volunteer aide to Braddock but his actions were praised in saving what was left of the command.

In the third attempt a large British force of 6, 000 men under the command of General John Forbes advanced from Fort Ligonier toward Fort Duquesne in November 1758 along what became known as the Forbes Road. The outnumbered French garrison blew up the magazine with 50 barrels of powder, destroying the fort. When the British force arrived on 25 Nov 1758, all that was left were charred remains.

The British then constructed the temporary Mercer's Fort while they set out to build a more substantial Fort Pitt (1).

Current Status

Part of Point State Park, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Located further out on the point from Fort Pitt (1).

Location: Point State Park, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.441611 Long: -80.010944

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Visited: 15 Aug 2012

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