• Fort Necessity (NPS photo by Debbie Martinez)

    Fort Necessity

    National Battlefield Pennsylvania

Frequently Asked Questions

Reconstruction of Fort Necessity in the Great Meadow

Fort Necessity is nestled in the Great Meadow in the Allegheny Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania.

Why did George Washington choose the location he did for Fort Necessity?

Fort Necessity did not defend a strategic military location. George Washington arrived at the Great Meadows in May. He set up a camp from which to base his operations while waiting for additional militia and British regulars. Washington chose the Great Meadows for his camp because it was open. It would be easier to see the enemy coming through the meadow than through the forest. There was also water and pasture available. After encountering and dispatching the French party led by Jumonville, Washington returned to the Great Meadows and fortified his position. He built a stockade and earthworks around his storehouse.

Has this area always been a meadow?

A meadow is a low level grassland near a stream. Great Meadow is a natural meadow. It was the largest meadow in the wilderness along the route to the Forks of the Ohio River. The ground in this meadow was very wet. Because the ground is so wet, there is not enough oxygen to support the root system of large trees. Although the Great Meadow was here in 1754, farming, logging, and other land uses have changed its size, shape and composition over the past 250 years.

 
Plan of Fort Necessity from archaeological report

Plan of Fort Necessity form 1954 Archaeological Report.  Two streams beyond the earthworks were also used for defense.

J. C. Harrington - from "New Light on Fort Necessity"

Why is the fort so small?

When Washington built the fort there were only 160 men with him. During the battle, there were 400 British at Fort Necessity. The circular stockade is 53 feet in diameter. It is only part of Fort Necessity. Washington considered the fort to include the earthworks and natural entrenchments formed by the two streams.

 

Can I access a Fort Necessity list of dead and wounded British Troops on this site or another that you might be able to direct me to?

A roster of the Virginia Regiment under the command of George Washington is available at http://www.nps.gov/fone/historyculture/roster.htm

In addition to the Virginia Regiment, 100 British regulars from the Independent Companies from South Carolina under the command of Capt. James Mackay were involved in the battle at Fort Necessity. These men were chosen from the companies stationed in South Carolina. We at Fort Necessity National Battlefield do not know of a surviving roster that lists the names of these men. We know from Washington and Mackay's report that there were seventeen casualties to the British regulars and Lt. Peter Mercier was among them.

Where can I find primary sources for the names of soldiers and wagoners who accompanied Washington at Braddock's defeat in 1755?

We do not have rosters of soldiers and wagonmasters from the Braddock expedition. You may be able to glean some information from "Braddock Road Chronicles 1755", a collection of first hand accounts compiled by Andrew J. Wahll.

 
General Edward Braddock

General Edward Braddock led an expedition to take the Forks of the Ohio in 1755.  He died in the attempt.

Library of Congress

Was General Braddock's body ever found and reburied somewhere else? If so, when and where?

On July 13, 1755 while retreating from the Battle of the Monongahela, the British camped about one mile west of the Great Meadows, site of Fort Necessity. In the evening Braddock died. George Washington officiated at the ceremony the next day. The general was buried in the road his men had built. The army then marched over the grave to obliterate any traces of it and continued to eastern Pennsylvania. 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. The remains were re-interred on a small knoll adjacent to the road. In 1913 the marker was placed where it is today.

 

May I bring my pet to the park?

Pets are permitted in of the park, provided they are equipped with collars, identification and vaccination tags, and under control on a leash.Pets are not allowed in any public building or office except for service animals.

Pet excrement must be removed from picnic areas, trails, and all areas of frequent public use. Leaving pets unattended while tied to objects is prohibited.

 
Re-enactment group drilling.

British, French, and American Indian re-enactment groups often encamp at Fort Necessity.  Battle re-enactments and opposing line firing are not permitted.

Do you have battle re-enactments at Fort Necessity?

National Park Service policy reflects sensitivity to human suffering and sacrifice that took place on the battlefields. It prohibits battle re-enactments or any form of simulated warfare. For more information click here.

Fort Necessity does host living history encampments as a tool to interpret the experiences of historic soldiers. Interested re-enactment groups should contact the park's Historic Weapons Supervisor.

 

Can I use a metal detector at Fort Necessity?

All areas of National Parks are off limits to metal detectors. Possession of a metal detector in a National Park area is prohibited by 36 CFR 2.1(7). Additional regulations about disturbing archeological resources are detailed in 43 CFR.

What if anything found was to be donated back to the park?

You cannot donate something that doesn't belong to you. The value of archeological resources depends on the context of where they are found. Once it is removed, the damage is done. Even if found items were returned to the National Park Service, penalties (fines, costs, and/or imprisonment) could still be levied.

Did You Know?

General Braddock

To increase speed, General Braddock split his army. The 1,200 men in the vanguard were severely routed by French and Indians from Fort Duquesne. Braddock died during the retreat and was buried in the road. More...