Fort Necessity, guess which war?!
Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
253Trip End Dec 31, 2014
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Given that we are in Pennsylvania we jumped to the conclusion that Fort Necessity must have something to do with the Revolutionary War. We would quickly learn that we were incorrect. The confrontation that occurred here in the summer of 1754 was actually the opening battle of the war fought by England and France for control of the North American continent. It was also the opening episode of a worldwide struggle known in North America as the French and Indian war and elsewhere as the Seven Year's War. In fact, some historians believe it was the first World War.
The war ended in 1763 with the expulsion of French power from North America and India. The action at Fort Necessity was also the first major event in the military career of George Washington, he was at the time a Lt Colonel in the British Army. It was also his first military loss and it marked the only time he ever surrendered to an enemy!
The park visitor center has been recently renovated and the displays are some of the best we have seen. There is, of course, a movie and we arrived just in time for a demonstration by a couple of the Park Rangers on what life was like for a soldier in the British Army of 1754.
The displays and information at this visitor center also cover the history of the National Road. As we would learn during our visit here, George Washington and his troops were actually in this area attempting to clear a roadway. The lessons that Washington would learn here would lead him to believe in the need for a roadway connecting the Eastern seaboard with the land beyond the mountains.
Albert Gallatin, secretary of the treasury under Presidents Jefferson and Madison would help make this road a reality by drawing up the plan that led congress to approve construction. Begun in 1811, the National Road ran from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois where construction stopped in 1839. This was America's first federally funded highway. Today, though realigned in places and resurfaced, U.S. 40 now follows the same road.
In it's heyday the National Road contained Inns at stops along the way. The Fort Necessity National Park contains one of these Inn's, named for George Washington. It still sits along the road and is open to tour. Now that we have been made aware of the National Road I think we are going to have to figure out how to travel it from end to end at some point. Nothing like, literally, traveling the path of history!