A Travellerspoint blog

June 2004

Visiting the Necessity

George Washington's Only Defeat


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & Bermuda & 2004 Peripetic Summer on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

In the colonial times in the USA, the privies (or what we called outhouses) euphemistically called "Necessaries".

We visited Ft. Necessity on our honeymoon
Bob standing by the Fort sign

Bob standing by the Fort sign

Fort

Fort

Memorial Day - May 31, 2004

We loaded our stuff in the car and checked out after breakfast at 0837. The breakfast had three kinds of juice (cranberry, apple and orange) three kinds of cereal (fruit loops, cheerios and a flake) with two kinds of milk, coffee and decafe, plus hot water for tea (with various types available), or hot cereal, hard boiled eggs, a toaster in which to do waffles or french toast with syrup, pancakes to be done in the microwave, fresh fruit (apples and oranges), bagels and cream cheese, muffins, donuts, biscuits and creamed chipped beef.
Breakfast at the Hampton Inn

Breakfast at the Hampton Inn


We drove out Route 40
The Summit Inn sign

The Summit Inn sign


toward Farmington through Chalk Hill
Chalk Hill

Chalk Hill

Stone House Restaurant

Stone House Restaurant


and past General Braddock's Grave (which we really didn't see because of the rain although that was an interesting story). Major General Edward Braddock (January 1695 – 13 July 1755) was a British officer and commander-in-chief for the 13 colonies during the actions at the start of the French and Indian War (1754–1763) which is also known in Europe and Canada as the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). This is the War which had it's inception in the Battle of Great Meadows at Fort Necessity. He is generally best remembered for his command of a disastrous expedition against the French-occupied Ohio River Valley then in western Virginia or Pennsylvania in 1755, in which he lost his life.

Braddock, rallying his men time after time, fell at last, mortally wounded by a shot through the chest. Braddock was borne off the field and died on 13 July. Before he died Braddock left Washington his ceremonial sash that he wore with his battle uniform and muttered some of his last words, which were 'Who would have thought?' Reportedly, Washington never went anywhere without this sash for the rest of his life. Braddock was buried just west of Great Meadows in the middle of the road and wagons were rolled over top of the grave site to prevent his body from being discovered and desecrated by the Indians. George Washington presided at the burial service, as the chaplain had been severely wounded. After the French and Indian War ended, the Braddock Road remained a main road in this area. In 1804, some workmen discovered human remains in the road near where Braddock was supposed to have been buried. Officer's uniform buttons reportedly found at the site indicated that the remains were those of General Braddock. The remains that were recovered were then re-interred on a small knoll adjacent to the road. In 1913 the marker was placed where it is today.

General Braddock's Grave concealed by the rain

General Braddock's Grave concealed by the rain


Even though it was threatening rain, we visited Fort Necessity National Battlefield (The battle fought near here in 1754 launched the French and Indian War). Mt. Washington Tavern is also on the site.

We got to Ft. Necessity just before 0900. In 1959, when we returned from Oberlin on our honeymoon (after I graduated), we visited Fort Necessity. We weren't sure if the Visitor's Center (which was not here in 1959) would be open on Memorial Day,
Fort Necessity from the Visitor's Center

Fort Necessity from the Visitor's Center


so I walked over
Visitor's Center with flag at half staff

Visitor's Center with flag at half staff


and took this picture from in front of it. Just about that time, the ranger arrived.
Reflection in Visitor's Center

Reflection in Visitor's Center


We went in and saw the film which may have had much of the information about the history of the battle. At this time, the English and the colonials (Washington and the Virginia troops) were on one side, and the French from Canada were on the other side. There were apparently Indians fighting on both sides.

Virginia colonial Lieutenant Colonel George Washington was sent by Governor Robert Dinwiddie as an emissary in December 1753, to deliver a letter asking the French to leave the Pittsburgh area. Washington returned to Williamsburg and informed Governor Dinwiddie that the French refused. Dinwiddie ordered Washington to begin raising a militia regiment to hold the Forks of the Ohio, in present-day Pittsburgh. He also sent Captain Trent to build a fort there. Dinwiddie issued these instructions on his own authority, without even asking for funding from the Virginia House of Burgesses until after the fact. The Canadians tore down the British works, and began construction of the fort they called Fort Duquesne.

In March 1754, Governor Dinwiddie sent Washington back to the frontier with orders to "act on ..any Attempts are made to obstruct the Works or interrupt... You are to restrain all such Offenders, & in Case of resistance to make Prisoners of or kill & destroy them". Dinwiddie's instructions, which were issued without the knowledge or direction of the British government in London, have been interpreted as "an invitation to start a war". Washington was ordered to gather as many supplies and paid volunteers as he could. By the time he left for the frontier on April 2, he had gathered 186 men. On May 23, the French commander sent Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville with 35 men to see if Washington had entered French territory, and with a summons to order Washington's troops to leave; this summons was similar in nature to the one Washington had delivered to them four months previous. Captain Trent arrived with news of the advance of the French force under Jumonville. Trent was accompanied by Tanacharison, who promised warriors to assist the British. To keep Tanacharison's support, Washington decided not to turn back, choosing instead to build a fortification now known as Fort Necessity at Great Meadows 37 miles (60 km) south of the forks and await further instructions. In the Battle of Jumonville Glen. Washington ambushed the French, killing 10 to 12, wounding 2 and capturing 21. Among the dead was Jumonville. After that, Washington expected the French to retaliate.

Path from Visitor's Center to Fort

Path from Visitor's Center to Fort

Visitor's center from the fort

Visitor's center from the fort


Fort Necessity

Fort Necessity


Bob walking out to the fort in the rain

Bob walking out to the fort in the rain

Looking down from the bridge

Looking down from the bridge

Looking toward the fort from the woods

Looking toward the fort from the woods

Washington's soldiers build the fort

Washington's soldiers build the fort


After encountering and dispatching the French party led by Jumonville, Washington returned to the Great Meadows and fortified his position by building a stockade and earthworks around his storehouse. When he built the fort there were only 160 men with Washington. A few days later, 100 British regulars under the command of James Mackay arrived, but, instead of making camp with the Virginians, they camped separately outside the fort.
British Defense

British Defense


Washington had heard that there were 500 poorly supplied French troops at Fort Duquesne. So he had his troops building roads for better access to the site. On June 28, after a council of war, Washington ordered the withdrawal to Great Meadows. That same day 600 French, and 100 Indians left Fort Duquesne led by the slain Jumonville's older brother, Louis Coulon de Villiers. In order to keep ahead of the French/Canadian force, the Virginians had to abandon most of their supplies. On July 1, they reached Fort Necessity. At Fort Necessity, the provision hut was depleted, and there was little shelter from the heavy rain that started to fall on the 2nd. With the rain, the trenches that Washington had ordered to be dug had turned into streams. Washington realized that he would have to defend against a frontal assault and also realized that it would be difficult because the woods were less than 100 yards away (within musket range), making it possible for a besieging attacker to pick off the defenders. To improve the defense, Washington ordered his men to cut trees down and to make them into makeshift breastworks

French and Indian attack

French and Indian attack


By 11:00 am on the 3rd of July 1754, Louis Coulon de Villiers came within sight of Fort Necessity. At this time, the Virginians were digging a trench in the mud. The pickets fired their muskets and fell back to the fort, whereupon three columns of Canadian soldiers and Indians advanced downhill towards the fort. However, Coulon had miscalculated the location of the fort and had advanced with the fort at his right. As Coulon halted and then redeployed his troops, Washington began to prepare for an attack.
Coulon moved his troops into the woods, within easy musket range of the fort. Washington knew he had to dislodge the Canadians and Indians from that position, so he ordered an assault with his entire force across the open field. Seeing the assault coming, Coulon ordered his soldiers, led by Indians, to charge directly at Washington's line. Washington ordered the men to hold their ground and fire a volley. Mackay's regulars obeyed Washington's command, and supported by two swivel cannons, they inflicted several casualties on the oncoming Indians. The Virginians, however, fled back to the fort, leaving Washington and the British regulars greatly outnumbered. Washington ordered a retreat back to the fort.
Coulon reformed his troops in the woods. The Canadians spread out around the clearing and kept up heavy fire on Fort Necessity. Washington ordered his troops to return fire, but they aimed too high, inflicting few casualties, and the swivel cannon fared no better.To add to the garrison's troubles, heavy rain began to fall that afternoon, and Washington's troops were unable to continue the firefight because their gunpowder was wet.
Truce negotiations

Truce negotiations


The battle of Fort Necessity ended when Colonel George Washington of the Virginia Militia and Captain John Mackay of the British Regulars surrendered to the French forces. The terms of the surrender, or Capitulation, were written in French. The document refers to the assassination of the French officer, Jumonville, in the second paragraph and in article seven. Washington denied the killing was an assassination, claiming his translator rendered the word as "loss" or "death of". On the 17th, Washington delivered his report of the battles to Governor Dinwiddie, expecting a rebuke, but Washington instead received a vote of thanks from the House of Burgesses and Dinwiddie blamed the defeat not on Washington but on poor supply and the refusal of aid by the other colonies
Ft. Necessity stockade

Ft. Necessity stockade


Crossing the earthworks

Crossing the earthworks

Swivel gun

Swivel gun

Swivel gun from next to stockade

Swivel gun from next to stockade

Stockade, trench and one swivel gun

Stockade, trench and one swivel gun


We went inside the stockade.
Looking through gate to storehouse

Looking through gate to storehouse

Looking in gate - Bob beside storehouse

Looking in gate - Bob beside storehouse

Peeking out to swivel gun from stockade

Peeking out to swivel gun from stockade

Small storehouse inside the stockade

Small storehouse inside the stockade

Stockade gate from inside

Stockade gate from inside

Split rail fence from the trail

Split rail fence from the trail

Fort Necessity from beside the Visitor's Center

Fort Necessity from beside the Visitor's Center


We walked back and then I took the path partway up towards the Tavern.
Sign at bottom of walk

Sign at bottom of walk

Trail up to Mt. Washington Tavern

Trail up to Mt. Washington Tavern

Tavern from the Visitor's Center trail

Tavern from the Visitor's Center trail


The Tavern is part of the Ft. Necessity 'complex' (which includes Braddock's Grave and Jumonville Glen in addition to Ft. Necessity) and was being opened by the park ranger at 10:00 for a program. Mount Washington Tavern was one of many taverns located along the National Road, which was the first highway built by the Federal government. It was a brick and stone building - built about 1828,which was during the heyday of the National Road. James and Rebecca Sampey and their family owned and operated the Mount Washington Tavern which catered to the stagecoach clientele and was serviced by the Good Intent Stagecoach Line. This tavern owes its name to George Washington, who returned 15 years after the Ft. Necessity battle to purchase the land which he owned until his death in 1799.

Prosperity along the National Road came to an end with the coming of the railroad. In 1855 the executors of the James Sampey estate sold the Mount Washington properties to Godfrey Fazenbaker who lived in the Tavern for over 75 years. The Tavern now has a Barroom, Parlour, Dining Room, Kitchen and some bedrooms open to the public. The original kitchen would have been in the basement, and there would have been more sleeping area in the attics which are now principally used for storage. It is furnished to show how it may have appeared during the1828-1855 timeframe. The Mount Washington Tavern is open for tours only

We left a little before 10
Leaving Ft Necessity

Leaving Ft Necessity

Exit US 40 east

Exit US 40 east


and continued down Route 40 and joined up with I-68 after we crossed into Maryland.
Camping in the rain

Camping in the rain

Cumberland

Cumberland


It continued to rain. At Hancock, in order to avoid going through Baltimore or Washington, we exited I-68 and crossed into West Virginia on US 522.
Fog

Fog


We stopped at 1143 in the rain in Berkley Springs for lunch at McDonalds. Then we went on through Winchester Virginia. In order to avoid Washington D.C., we went down to Fredericksburg
Virginia Route 3 south of Fredericksburg

Virginia Route 3 south of Fredericksburg


and crossed over the Potomac on the Governor Nice Bridge
Potomac River sign

Potomac River sign

Sign leaving Virginia

Sign leaving Virginia

Sunny Skies

Sunny Skies

Governor Nice Bridge

Governor Nice Bridge

Governor Nice Bridge

Governor Nice Bridge

Morgantown power plant

Morgantown power plant


and were back in Maryland by about 1745.
Landing in Maryland

Landing in Maryland

Morgantown power plant

Morgantown power plant


----------------------------------------
This was a fairly inexpensive long weekend trip. Five days and four nights.
Lodging for 4 nights - $276.00 This included breakfast for three mornings.
Fuel (diesel) was about $42.00
Food from lunch Thursday to lunch Monday $190.00 although I do not know what we did for breakfast on Sunday - maybe we skipped it.
Extras - Registration, tolls, museum admission $68.60
Total $577.00

Posted by greatgrandmaR 12:30 Archived in USA Comments (2)