Fort Necessity

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Fort Necessity (1754-1754) - A Colonial fort established in 1754 at the beginning of the French & Indian War by Lieutenant Colonel George Washington in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Surrendered to the French by George Washington and destroyed by them in 1754.

Fort Necessity History

Early in 1754 Captain William Trent was sent to the Ohio Forks to establish a fortification at the future site of Fort Duquesne (1) and later Fort Pitt. Captain Trent established the fortification but was turned away by the French on 17 Apr 1754. Lieutenant Colonel George Washington was on his way with a force of over 1,800 men to reinforce Captain Trent. Trent met Washington on his way back from the Ohio Forks and Washington set up camp to await instructions.

While Washington waited for instructions, a small French force approached and Washington led a force that ambushed the French, killing some ten or twelve including the leader. Expecting a retaliatory attack, Washington withdrew to the Great Meadows and on 30 May 1754 began construction of Fort Necessity.

Fort Necessity Plan

Fort Necessity was built as a simple circular stockade of upright logs covered with skins and bark. The stockade was only 7' high, 50' in diameter and the only structure in it was a small hut containing provisions and ammunition. The stockade was flanked by a set of earthworks. The fort was also within musket range of the woods making it very vulnerable to sustained attack. Discipline and command problems caused much confusion and difficulty in coordinating a defense.

A retaliatory force of some 700 French and Indians arrived at Fort Necessity on 3 Jul 1754 and attacked. The French offered to let Washington's troops leave if Washington would sign a surrender and go back to Virginia. Washington signed the surrender on 4 Jul 1754 and his troops departed with full honors. The French and their Indian allies looted Washington's baggage train as they left and destroyed the fort.

Current Status

A replica of the fort is a part of Fort Necessity National Battlefield Park, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. One roadside marker.

There are at least two schools of thought on the design and construction of the fort, one says the fort was more elaborate and triangular and the other supports the small round fort theory. Contemporary reports seem to confirm the small round theory and that is how the fort was reconstructed.


Location: Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Maps & Images

Lat: 39.8152166 Long: -79.5894223

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Fort Necessity Picture Gallery

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