New Light on Washington's Fort Necessity
A Report on the Archeological Explorations at Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site
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The story of Washington's first military venture, culminating in the battle at Great Meadows on July 3, 1754, has been recounted so many times and in such detail that there seems little need to go into it here, other than to provide a very general summary and to emphasize the points that relate directly to the archeological project. [1] Nor does it seem necessary to support every statement in this summary with footnotes, since the many published accounts are adequately documented. If, in this brief account, the more important historical aspects of the story are slighted and less important ones are given more than summary treatment, it is either because the former have been fully covered in readily available sources, or because the latter are more directly related to the interpretation of the archeological discoveries. There are several concise and vivid contemporary accounts of the battle, some of which are included as appendixes to this report (1 through 5). The present historical summary, therefore, will treat the actual battle more briefly than would be called for otherwise.

Fig. 1. Conjectural plan of Great Meadows in 1754 as reconstructed from historical and archeological evidence, shown in relation to Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site. In 1962 the entire historic area became part of Fort Necessity National Battlefield. (click on image for a PDF version)

Lt. Col. George Washington, in command of about 160 Virginia volunteers, arrived at Great Meadows on May 24, 1754. For nearly two months this untrained, poorly provisioned army had been hauling supplies and heavy equipment all the way from Alexandria, Virginia, much of the way over narrow mountain trails. There had been desertions; the men were hungry, tired, and dissatisfied. Little wonder that the broad, open expanse of this meadow, with ample pasture for horses and cattle, appealed to Washington and that he decided at once to make it his main base of operations. The winding streams running through the meadow provided natural entrenchments, and, after bushes along the stream banks had been cut, he wrote Governor Dinwiddie that he had here "a charming field for an encounter". [2]

This was not Washington's first visit to these parts. Earlier that year, as a special emmisary of the Virginia governor, he had carried a message to the French warning them that they were encroaching on land "notoriously known to be the property of the Crown of Great Britain". [3] But the warning was defied by the French, who looked upon the English as the encroachers. Governor Dinwiddie had then sent an expedition to the Ohio Country to build a fort at "The forks", site of the present City of Pittsburgh. Washington's detail was the vanguard of an army being recruited by Dinwiddie, with Col. Joshua Fry in command, which was to assist and support the little garrison at the forks. Washington, then only 22 years old, and with his new commission of Lieutenant Colonel, had set out on April 2 with the advance party from Alexandria. [4] The main body was to follow as soon as men could be recruited and supplies and equipment assembled. The nature of the entire expedition was altered, however, when word was received along the way that the partially completed fort at the forks had been surrendered to the French.

To understand why the little fort at Great Meadows, later named Fort Necessity, was built as it was, it is important to keep in mind exactly what Washington's objectives were after the French drove the English from their partially completed fort at the forks and began construction of Fort Duquesne. Although Governor Dinwiddie had specifically instructed Washington to resort to force, if necessary, the intent of the advance detachment had been to reinforce the garrison at the forks. On the way, they were also to improve the trail over which the main army would march, but the principal objective was to strengthen the garrison and help complete the fort.

Learning, however, that the French were established at that strategic point, the original plans had to be altered, and, in addition to constructing a road, Washington was now to build a fort on the Monongahela River at the mount of Redstone Creek. [5] With the way thus prepared, the main army would be assembled at the new base on the Monongahela, from which it would be in position to launch an attack against Fort Duquesne. In advising Governor Dinwiddie of the new plans, Washington wrote: "We will endeavour to make the road sufficiently good for the heaviest artillery to pass, and when we arrive at Red-stone Creek fortify ourselves as strongly as the short time will allow". [6]

It was important that this road over the mountains (which, on the whole, followed the Nemacolin Trail) should be adequate for use by horse and wagon, as well as mounted cannon. [7] The base at Great Meadows was intended simply as a station along this road between the main base at Wills Creek (later Fort Cumberland) and the new advance post on the Monongahela. Subsequent events, it is true, necessitated construction of a defensible fort at Great Meadows. But its situation with reference to the overall plan of the expedition, as well as the circumstances of its construction, must be recognized to understand its small size and unusual design. Expediency, not lack of military sophistication, accounts for the plan of Fort Necessity, even though Washington admittedly was a novice in military affairs at this time. Even so, he, as well as his officers, had some familiarity with frontier forts of conventional design. He had observed, among others, the stockaded fort at Wills Creek and even the more elaborate Fort Le Boeuf of the French, where he had delivered Dinwiddie's ultimatum the preceding winter. In addition, as evidenced by various statements found in his writings during this period, he was sufficiently versed in military arts to have definite opinions as to the suitability of sites for forts.

The important point to keep in mind is that the site of Fort Necessity was selected originally for an operating base, where supplies could be stored and the expedition temporarily headquartered. Washington had no intention of building any kind of a fort whatever at Great Meadows when his band of road-builders first stopped there on May 24. At such an advanced position, however, and with rumors continuously coming to him of French and Indian activities in the vicinity, he knew there was always a possibility that he might be attacked at any point along the way. Washington was not planning to become involved in a major engagement at this stage. But the possibility could not be ignored, and it is easy to understand why this place appealed to him as a "charming field for an encounter".

After setting up camp at Great Meadows, word came that a party of French soldiers was in the vicinity. With a force of 40 men, Washington, early in the morning of May 28, surprised the French at their campsite a few miles from Great Meadows. In the skirmish that followed, in which the French were quickly and decisively defeated, their leader, Sieur de Jumonville, was killed. [8] One Frenchman escaped, the rest being killed or taken prisoner. Fearing reprisal by the main French army, Washington quickly returned to Great Meadows and hastily began building a stockade with some earth entrenchments. [9] It would appear, however, that work stopped on the fortification as soon as it seemed the French did not intend to retaliate.

During the month of June, Washington worked on the road westward toward the Monongahela, continuing to use Great Meadows as the main camp and supply base. His force had been increased by the remainder of the Virginia regiment and by a South Carolina Independent Company of regular troops, bringing it to around 400 officers and men. Word had come that Colonel Fry had been fatally wounded in an accident and Col. James Innes, who had arrived at Wills Creek with a North Carolina regiment, had been placed in command of the entire expedition. Washington, now commissioned a full colonel, was given command of the Virginia regiment, with Captain James Mackay in charge of the British regulars from South Carolina.

Toward the end of June, word came that a large body of French and Indians was advancing from Fort Duquesne. The Virginia troops, who then were working on the western section of the road to Redstone Creek, first considered making a stand at Gists' Plantation, several miles northwest of Great Meadows, where they had thrown up a temporary fortification. But they decided to fall back to Great Meadows, which they reached on July 1, and set to work strengthening their position. There was little time to do much, for the French attacked on the morning of July 3. The fighting lasted throughout the day, in a pouring rain, and at eight o'clock that night the French Commander, Villiers, requested a parley. After several hours of negotiating, an agreement was reached that was satisfactory to both Villiers and Washington. It called for the English to give up Fort Necessity, although they were accorded honors of war and allowed to keep their small arms and supplies. The following morning, July 4, they marched out of the fort, making their way as best they could to Wills Creek. The French destroyed the fort and returned to Fort Duquesne. Thus ended the opening battle of the French and Indian War. [10]


The term "Fort Necessity" is found only once in the contemporary records dating from the period prior to the battle, and very infrequently in such records thereafter. The battle is referred to invariably as "The Battle at the Great Meadows" — never "The Battle of Fort Necessity". [11] The earliest known reference to "Fort Necessity" is in an entry in Washington's journal on June 25, 1954, which reads as follows: "I thought it proper to send Captain Montour to Fort Necessity in order to try if he could persuade the Indians to come to us (to where the Virginia volunteers were working on the road some distance to the west)" [12]

Although Washington mentions the Great Meadows many times in his diary and in letters, I know of only one subsequent use of the term "Fort Necessity" in any of his writings. Many years after the battle, in describing the 1754 expedition, he referred to "a small stockade in the middle of the entrenchment called Fort Necessity". [13] Nor does the name appear in any, of the contemporary official records dealing with the battle. Even so, the name "Fort Necessity" almost certainly was widely known and used. It is so designated on maps drawn a year later in connection with the Braddock Campaign. [14]

The earliest explanation of the origin of the name is in a letter dated May 12, 1755, written by John Banister, Jr., a participant in the battle. He wrote: ". . . we built a fort called 'Necessity', from the great difficulty of procuring necessaries for subsistence when our soldiers were there employed". [15] Even though this contemporary account has the ring of authenticity, slightly different origins for the name have been suggested. Douglas Freeman, for example, accounts for it as follows: "The whole and the parts were not a design of engineering art but of frontier necessity. Wherefore, George gave it the name, Fort Necessity". [16] I would be more willing to accept Freeman's explanation if he had said "military necessity" rather than "frontier necessity".

It has also been suggested that the name originated with the necessity of having to erect make shift defenses at Great Meadows (following the Jumonville incident), at a time when Washington quite clearly was intent only on building a road to the Monongahela. The fort at Great Meadows was not planned, as was the proposed fort at the mouth of Redstone Creek, but was built out of necessity when Washington expected to be attacked momentarily by a superior force.

In all probability, an entirely satisfactory explanation for the name will never be found, unless we accept Banister's. We can be reasonably sure, however, that it had to do with the difficulties and hardships associated with the fort's construction and use.


In 1816, Freeman Lewis, a professional surveyor, visited Great Meadows and mapped the surface remains of Fort Necessity, still quite conspicuous at that time. Inexplicably to those who later visited the site, he recorded the remains as triangular in plan, with a small, semi-hexagonal bulge extending out from the base of the triangle (Fig. 2). Lewis' map was not published at the time, and was not generally available to scholars, nor widely known, until it was published in Lowdermilk's History of Cumberland in 1878. [17] To my knowledge, the first published drawing purporting to be a plan for the fort based upon field observations and measurements, appeared in Jared Sparks' work of 1837 (Fig. 3). [18] Sparks, whose field inspection was made in 1830, was the first to show the fort as diamond-shaped, although it is quite evident that he had not seen the Lewis drawing, nor did he realize that he was to start a century-long argument; an argument that could have been settled quite easily by an inspection of the remains. The resulting discussion over the shape of the fort, which Douglas Freeman characterizes as "almost amusingly heated" [19], was finally brought to a close, and, it is hoped, incontestably, by the recent archeological discoveries. Further discussion of the subject might seem superfluous at this stage. However, it is of interest not only from the standpoint of historical criticism, but also relevant to the present discussion of the archeological explorations of 1952 and 1953, as well as the earlier excavations in 1931. [20] It explains, in part, why the only really pertinent documentary evidence relating to the original appearance of the fort was ignored; why the stockade was incorrectly reconstructed in 1932; and how the correct location of the stockade and entrenchments came very close to never being discovered.

Fig. 2. Freeman Lewis survey made in 1816. Interlineation made on photo-reproduction of original map for broadside, published by Westmoreland Fayette Branch, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, circa 1932.

Fig. 3. Map published by Jared Sparks, The Writings of George Washington, 1837. (click on image for a PDF version)

Strangely enough, in spite of all the discussion through the years as the plan of the surface traces, no really detailed topographic survey was made until 1931, when Harry Blackford accurately mapped the site prior to archeological excavations and reconstruction (Fig. 9). [21] Since Lewis was reputed to have been a competent surveyor, and since there had been so much discussion by writers over the years, the National Park Service, in preparation for extensive repairs, was practically compelled to do a little exploring to settle, if possible, this old argument, even though the results of the 1931 explorations seemed at the time to be conclusive.

It is now quite apparent that there would have been no argument over the plan of the existing surface remains if those who objected to Sparks' layout had taken the trouble to return to the site and check the earlier survey. Actually, however, this disagreement as to the plan of the fort was not the real reason why it took so long to arrive at the correct solution. Basically, the trouble did not lie in the shape of the surface remains, but in their interpretation. It all started with a note on Lewis' map to the effect that the ridges and depressions were the result of earth having been piled against the stockade posts, and that the ridge, therefore, represented the line of the original stockade. Later writers, whether or not they followed Lewis' triangular plan, invariably gave the same interpretation to these surface ridges.

A single example from the many that might be cited, is sufficient to show how this interpretation, possibly only a tentative suggestion on Lewis' part, was accepted as an established fact. In a discussion of the Great Meadows tract, describing the site as it appeared about 1881, a local writer referred to "the ruins of the fort or embanked stockade, which it really was..." [22] (italics added). Even Douglas Freeman, as late as 1948, after a most exhaustive study of the source materials, implicitly followed this interpretation when he sided with the Lewis opponents as to the shape of the fort. [23] In fact, this interpretation was still accepted without question when archeological explorations were carried out in 1952.

Some twenty years after Sparks' work was published, James Veech, a local attorney who had worked with Lewis, came out quite vigorously, almost emotionally, in support of the triangular plan. [24]

In referring to Sparks' drawing and description of Fort Necessity, Veech wrote: "It may have presented that diamond shape, in 1830. But in 1816, the senior author of these sketches (Freeman Lewis) made a regular survey of it with compass and chain . . . As thereby shown, it was in the form of an obtuse angled triangle " [25] Veech then goes on to present a good case for the triangular plan, and having dealt with Sparks, he turns to Colonel Burd, who had innocently described the ruins as he saw them in 1759. [26] "A more inexplicable, and much more inexcusable error than that in Mr. Sparks' great work, is the statement of Colonel Burd, in the Journal of his expedition to Redstone in 1759. He says the fort was round! with a house in it! That Washington may have had some sort of a log, bark-covered cabin erected within his lines, is not improbable; but how the good Carlisle Colonel could metamorphose the lines into a circular form is a mystery which we cannot solve". [27]

On this matter of a round fort, even Hulbert agreed with Lewis and Veech. As an argument against the Lewis triangular shape, Hulbert wrote: "He (Burd) described its remains as circular in shape. If it was originally a triangle it is improbable that it could have appeared round five years later. If, however, it was originally an irregular square, it is not improbable that the rains and frosts of five winters, combined with the demolition of the fort by the French, would have given the mounds a circular appearance". [28] Even Freeman accepted this explanation, [29] as did Tilberg, in reviewing the subject in 1952. [30] The interesting thing is that not one of these students considered the possibility that Lewis and Burd were describing two entirely different features of the fort.

Partly because Veech was a convincing writer, partly because Lewis was an experienced surveyor, and partly because Veech's dissertation was not available to most scholars until 1892, no champion of the Sparks diamond shape appeared on the scene until 1901 when Archer Hulbert carefully examined the site and found, to his amazement, that the old Lewis survey did not fit the existing remains. [31] It is not too surprising that Lowdermilk, in 1878, should have reproduced the Lewis map (Fig. 4), but it is surprising that no one on the Pennsylvania State Commission on Frontier Forts inspected the site before their report was published in 1896. [32] In that report, the Lewis map is improved upon by adding entrenchments outside the stockade, possibly inspired by Sparks (Fig. 5). The shape of the little bulge at the back of the fort was also changed, as well as the location of Meadow Run. Other topographic features were added, all very reminiscent of the Sparks map.

Fig. 4. Map published in W. H. Lowdermilk, History of Cumberland, 1878.

Fig. 5. Map published in George D. Albert, The Frontier Forts of Western Pennsylvania, 1896.

Fig. 6. Survey made by Robert McCracken and published in Archer B. Hulbert, Washington's Road, 1903.

Hulbert presented a most detailed explanation, or rationalization, as to how Lewis could have made so conspicuous an error. The error, of course, would have been obvious to anyone taking the trouble to inspect the site, as Blackford found in 1931, or as Thwaite observed when he visited the site in 1903 and made a rough check of the surface remains. [33] Hulbert's review of the evidence was so thorough, and his arguments so convincing, that the case would seem to have been closed once and for all. Douglas Freeman; whose research and analysis was as thorough as any ever done on the 1754 expedition, was satisfied with the explanation and wrote that Hulbert's "conclusions are accepted". [34]

The Hulbert discussion was reviewed in the report of the 1931-1932 project, results of which appeared to provide added proof of Hulbert's basic interpretation, with certain refinements provided through archeological exploration. [35] Later, in Frederick Tilberg's "orientation report" prepared as a guide for the 1952 explorations, the Hulbert discussion was again presented, along with an appraisal of the added evidence from the 1931 explorations. [36] Hulbert, with certain modifications, was still accepted as the final word at the close of the 1952 explorations, when, in my brief preliminary report, I wrote that "on the basis of existing evidence, the present reconstruction is probably located very close to the original lines of the fort". [37] Through all of the years of discussion of these surface traces, there had never been any question raised as to the validity of their interpretation as remnants of the earth piled against the stockade. The sole point of all the discussions, some rather heated, had been whether the fort was triangular or diamond-shaped in plan.

In view of the uncritical adherence to Lewis' original interpretation on the part of serious students, it is interesting to observe that a few people had visited the site and had naively reported what they saw, just as Burd did in 1759, unprejudiced by the unfortunate notation on Lewis' map. A canal surveyor, for example, passed the site in 1825 and wrote that he had seen "the mud walls of Fort Necessity . . . Its shape and extent are still to be traced by the remains of the embankments . . . The embankments of the Fort I have said are still visible." [38] Obviously, this visitor had not read about Washington having built a stockade, and he visualized the fort as a typical earthwork. Townsend Ward visited the site in 1854 and wrote: "A faint outline of the breastwork and a trace of the ditch are yet visible". [39] Ward, apparently, was one of the few who saw the remains in their true light, and very likely was the last writer to describe just what he saw, unprejudiced by the later arguments.

Now that the clouds have cleared away, it is difficult to see how anyone could have brushed aside Colonel Burd's observation, and it is rather surprising that almost everyone accepted Lewis' interpretation of the surface remains, or arrived at the same conclusions independently, especially since those interpretations are not particularly logical from the standpoint of military precedent. Unfortunately, almost any interpretation gains prestige by repetition and especially by publication, no matter what the qualifications of the author may be. It can gain so much prestige, in fact, that even new evidence will not be given proper consideration.

Such was the case when the Shaw document came to light some fifteen years ago. [40] The document is a deposition made only two months after the battle by a certain John Shaw, presumably a participant in the battle, and contains the following statement: "There was At this Place a Small Stocado Fort made in a Circular form round a Small House ...". No one gave credence to this new evidence when it was discovered, and even as late as 1952, when preparing for archeological explorations, it was summarily brushed aside, along with Colonel Burd's note, because it was counter to the traditional and accepted interpretation. After all, if one could see with his own eyes that the fort was diamond-shaped, why pay any attention to these people who said it was round?

A brief "case history" of this century-long controversy has been included, here, not to excuse, but to explain what now looms up as an unwarranted reluctance on everyone's part to analyze critically the available evidence. It explains also why, even with the Shaw document at hand, we saw the main objectives of the preliminary archeological explorations as (1) locating the "lost" entrenchments, and (2) settling once and for all, the triangle versus diamond-shape controversy. In the detailed description of the excavations, I will show how this stubborn resistance to accepting perfectly good documentary evidence, which originated innocently with a note on a surveyor's map, finally was overcome.


What happened at the site of Fort Necessity after the 1754 episode is of no great importance historically, but it could be important in the interpretation of archeological findings. For that reason, the archeologist needs to know how the land was used, what structures were built on it, and any other occurrences that might leave some record in the ground.

Great Meadows apparently played no important part in the Braddock Campaign just a year after the burning of Fort Necessity. The old trail that Washington had struggled so hard to make into a serviceable road had been improved for use by a much larger army, which passed by the ruins of Fort Necessity on June 25, 1755, on its march toward Fort Duquesne. By coincidence, Braddock was buried only a mile to the west of the site during the retreat of the British following their disastrous defeat by the French on July 9. [42] Fort Necessity, however, is indicated on several maps relating to the Braddock Campaign. For example, a British map dated 1755 shows "Great Meadow-Fort Necessity" [43], and a French map of the same year indicates the site as "F. de Necessite". [44]

The next we hear of Fort Necessity is in the accounts connected with the Forbes expedition. In a letter to Col. Henry Bouquet, dated August 2, 1758, Washington recommended Great Meadows as the best site in that vicinity for a post because of the forage available for horses and cattle. [45] The following year, Col. James Burd, the Scotch road builder was sent out to repair and improve the Braddock Road between Cumberland and Redstone. Reporting to Colonel Bouquet, Burd wrote of his stop at Great Meadows on September 10, 1759: ". . . saw Colonel Washington's Fort which was called Fort Necessity. It is a small circular stockade with a small house in the center; on the outside there is a small ditch goes around it, about eight yards from the stockade. It is situated in a narrow part of the meadows commanded by three points of woods. There is a small run of water just by it. We saw two iron swivels." [46]

Reference to the property first appears in official land records when a patent conveying the property to Washington was issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1771. [47] In spite of his earlier unfortunate experiences in this locality, Washington seemed to have had a fondness for Great Meadows, and although he held it throughout the remainder of his life, the property was always a liability. In 1786 he wrote that the tract "sometimes has, and at other times has not a tenant (though no rent has ever yet been paid me for it) . . ." [48] Washington had visited the place on a trip west in 1784, writing in his diary for September 12, ". . . stopped awhile at the Great Meadows and viewed a tenement I have there". [49]

Washington never succeeded in renting the land, and finally in 1794 he attempted to dispose of it. [50] He failed even to sell it, and we find the tract listed among his holdings when his estate was settled. In this list of properties owned by Washington when he died, the Great Meadows tract is appraised at $1,404, quite an increase over the "30 pistoles" that he paid for it 30 years before. [51] In 1807, executors of the estate sold the property to Andrew Parks, whose wife was a relative and legatee of Washington. Parks sold it to Archibald Henderson and Joshua Longstreet in 1809, and during the next fifty years or so its was owned in turn by General Thomas Mason, Joseph Huston, Nathanial Ewing, James Sampey, Ellis Beggs, and Godfrey Fazenbaker. [52] During the years that Washington owned the property, the Braddock Road, which gradually assumed greater importance as pioneers began settling the West, was widened and improved. Taverns, mostly log buildings, sprang up along the road, but the Great Meadow tract remained unimproved and undeveloped. Washington's claim that the place offered excellent possibilities as a stand for a public house was not put to the test until the Braddock Road was replaced by the new National Road early in the nineteenth century. The new toll road which, in this vicinity, roughly followed the Braddock Road, was started in 1811, and passed over the hill some 300 yards to the northeast of the old fort site in the meadow. The present highway, U.S. 40, follows fairly closely the line of the National Road.

About 1828, after this section of the National Road was completed, Judge Ewing built a large brick house on the new highway, which he named Mount Washington Tavern. Washington's appraisal of the site for use by a publican was more than borne out, for the operator of the tavern reported a profit of $4,000 during a single year in the 1840's. [53]

The tavern was closed when Beggs acquired the property, and never functioned again as an inn. The Fazenbakers, who purchased the land in 1856, were farmers and stock raisers. They added a frame wing to the brick tavern and used it as their residence. They built a large barn and several frame farm buildings along the highway near the old tavern. [54] The Fazenbakers were probably the first to put the meadow to use, but according to tradition that portion on which Fort Necessity had been built was employed strictly for grazing. They always claimed with pride that the fort site had never been disturbed by the plow. Fences were built across the meadow, the channel of Great Meadow Run was straightened, and an "all weather" lane was built across the bottom land near the old fort site (Fig. 9).

The first known disturbance of the fort site was the laying of the corner stone for a proposed memorial at the centennial celebration in 1854. Fortunately, the memorial was never built and apparently the corner stone subsequently was removed. [55] The next activity was in 1931 in connection with the Washington Bicentennial, when plans were made for a rather ambitious development, including a reproduction of the original fort and construction of an elaborate memorial. [56]

Although the final development was less pretentious than originally proposed, considerable work was accomplished, largely during the spring of 1932. Included was the construction of a stockade, walks and drives, bridges over the creek, and a large parking area across the creek from the fort site. [57]

Before starting this development, a careful survey was made of the surface remains of the fort and the trace of the original creek channel by Harry Blackford, registered Civil Engineer (Fig. 9). An archeological exploration of the site was begun in November 1931, under Mr. Blackford's supervision. [58] Based upon the location of the surface traces and results of the excavating, a stockade was constructed the following spring. Locust logs, 12 feet long and squared on two sides, were set in the archeological trench and imbedded in concrete. A firing step was built around the inside of the stockade, subsurface drainage lines were installed, the adjacent ground was filled to a depth up to 2.5 feet, a log cabin was constructed, a flag pole was erected, bronze historical markers were put up on the stockade, and the area made ready for the celebration on July 3 and 4 (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7. Plan of Fort Necessity as developed in 1932.

The 2-acre tract on which the fort site is located, and on which the Washington Bicentennial developments were carried out, was deeded to the Federal Government on March 21, 1932. [59] This is the area now comprising Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site. It was first administered by the War Department, then transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. The 311-acre State Park surrounding the Battlefield Site was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1932 and developed for recreational use, largely under the Civilian Conservation Corps program between 1935 and 1938. [60] The principal work affecting the battlefield proper, accomplished during this period and later, was the planting of trees. The plan was to restore the surrounding hillsides to their wooded condition as of 1754. Unfortunately, much of the reforestation has been in pine, whereas the forest at the time of the battle was hardwood, predominately oak.

In September, 1953, following the exploratory excavating of the preceding spring when the original stockade remains were discovered, the entire 1932 stockade and related structures were demolished. Later that fall, and during the spring of 1954, the circular stockade and entrenchments were reconstructed, the bronze plaques reinstalled on the stockade wall, a log storehouse built, and a new system of walks constructed within the area (Fig. 8). To keep the ground drier under foot, the fill placed over the area in 1932 was left in place. Thus the reconstruction, although properly located in plan, is approximately a foot higher in elevation than the original structures. The channel of Meadow Run was left in its straightened course, rather than restoring the original meandering course. Some clearing of young volunteer growth in the meadow was accomplished in preparation for the bicentennial celebration, which was observed with elaborate ceremonies on July 3 and 4, 1954.

Fig. 8. Plan of Fort Necessity as developed in 1954.

Fig. 9. Survey made by Harry R. Blackford, 1931. (click on image for a PDF version)

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Last Updated: 04-Mar-2009