Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 11 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 11 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

corroborate it. Braddock was shot on the battle-field
by somebody. Fossit was a provincial private in the
action. There was generally a bad state of feeling
between the general and the provincial recruits, owing
chiefly to his obstinate opposition to tree-fighting,
and to his infuriate resistance to the determined in-
clination of the backwoodsmen to fight in that way,
to which they were countenanced by the opinion of
Washington and Sir Peter Halket. Another fact is
that much of the havoc ofthe English troops was caused
by the firing of their own men wherever they saw a
smoke. But Braddock raised no smoke, and when he
was shot a retreat had been sounded. If, therefore,
Fossit did shoot him he must have done it purposely.
And it is said he did so in revenge for the killing of a
brother for persisting in firing from behind a tree.
This is sustained by the fact that Tom had a brother
Joseph in the action who was killed. All these cir-
cumstances, with many others, seem to sustain the
allegation. Against it are the inconsistencies and
falsities of other parts of the testimony of the wit-
nesses adduced, and even of Fossit's own narrations."

Fossit died in 1818, a pauper in the township of
Wharton. He was at the time of his death about one
hundred and six years old, according to his own




FliOM July, 17or>, when the French succeeded in
expelling the English forces from the region of
country west of the Alleghenies, the former held ali-
solute possession of that territory for more than three
vears, as has alreadv been mentioned. Xot long after


tlieir victory on the Monongaliela tliey reduced their
force at Fort du Qiiesne, sending a part of it to Ve-
nango and other northern posts, and their Indian
allies, or a great part of them, scattered and returned
to their homes, being in a state of discontent and in-
cipient disaftection, though still holding to their
French allegiance.

At Fort du Quesne the French captain, Contre-
co'ur, remained in command till the early part of
1757. In that year, and not long after Contrecceur's
supersedure, the commandant at Fort Cumberland
sent out a small party ( probably the which crossed
the mountains from the east after Braddock's defeat)
to penetrate as nearly as practicable to the Forks of
the Ohio, and reconnoitre the country in the vicinity
of the French fort.' It was composed of five soldiers
from Fort Cumberland and fifteen Cherokee Indians,
all under command of Lieutenant Baker. They ad-
vanced to a point on the head-waters of Turtle Creek,
about twenty miles from the fort, where they fell in
with a French party of three officers and seven men.
In the fight which followed they killed five of the
French and took one (anofiicer) prisoner. They then
made their way back through what is now Fayette |
County, and arrived in safety at Fort Cumberland
with their prisoner and with the information that the
French fort was in command of Capt. de Ligneris, \
who had under him at that place a force of about six
hundred French troops and two hundred Indians.

In 1758 the English ministry planned and sent for- i
ward an expedition much more formidable than that j
placed under Braddock, three years before, for the
capture of Fort du Quesne. The command of this
new expedition was given to General John Forbes.
His force (of which the rendezvous was appointed at
Kaystown, now Bedford, Pa.) was composed of three
hundred and fifty Royal American troops, twelve
hundred Scotch Highlanders, sixteen hundred Vir-
ginians, and two thousand seven hundred Pennsyl-
vania provincials,— a total of five thousand eight hun-
dred and fifty effective men, besides one thousand
wagoners. The Virginia troops were comprised in
two regiments, commanded respectively by Col.
George Washington and Col. James Burd, but both
under the superior command of Washington as acting
brigadier. Under him, in command of one of the

' An anecdote of anollior .'niiiU reeounoilring-imrly tliat mas sent to-
waiils F.jit Jii ijucsniMi short timu nfti-rwarfls isfoiiiirt in Sparks (ii.28;i),
in one Ml \v.,,lir,.i .1 - 1. !t. rsdaleil May, 17.i8,as loll')«s : " An Indian
naincil I . x, i. ur ii..mKort London [Va,] witli a party of six

soldiers .,,.1 ,1 ,ii> In , nndiTcninnmnd of I-icntennnt Gist. After

great faliiiiu-» l-n: , i , . mi-i, ,,. ,n.v tin- -II. -«-,.,, t!,.- Alleglieny

Mountains, tliey I ■ ', ^! i ■>!,,, t : ; !.■ nn.iitli of Red-

btonej, wlicrc I.ini.i I , xMis rendered


Virginia companies, was Capt. William Crawford, af-
terwards for many years a resident of Fayette County,
at Stewart's Crossings. Gen. Forbes arrived at Rays-
town about the middle of September, but Col. Henry
Bouquet had previously (in August) been ordered for-
ward with an advanced column of two thousand men
to the Loyalhanna to cut out roads. The main body,
with Washington in advance, moved forward from
Raystown in October. In the mean time Bouquet
(perhaps thinking he could capture the fort with his i
advance division, before the arrival of the main body, I
and thus secure the principal honor) sent forward a ,
reconnoissance in force, consisting of eight hundreil
men (mostly Highlanders) under Maj. WtUintn-Grant.
This force reached a point in the vicinity of the fort.-
where, on the 14tli of September, it was attacked by
a body of about seven hundred French and a large
number of savages, under command of a French ofli-
cer named Aubry. Here Grant was defeated with
much slaughter, the Indians committing terrible
atrocities on the dead and wounded Highlanders.
The French and Indians then advanced against Bou-
quet, and attacked his intrenched position at Fort
Ligonier, but were finally (though with great diffi-
culty) repulsed on the 12th of October, and forced to
retreat to their fort.

Gen. Forbes with the main body of his army ar-
rived at Loyalhanna early in November. A council
of war was held, at which it was decided that on ac-
count of the lateness of the season and approach of
winter (the ground being already covered with snow)
it was "unadvisable, if not impracticable, to prosecute
the campaign any further till the next season, and
that a winter encampment among the mountains or
a retreat to the frontier settlements was the only al-
ternative that remained." Bui immediately after-
wards a scouting-party brought in some prisoners,
from whom it was learned that the garrison of Fort
du Quesne was weak, and the Indian allies of the
French considerably disaffected. Thereupon the de-
cision of the council of war was reversed, and orders
at once issued to move on to the assault of the fort.

The march was commenced immediately, the troops
taking with them no tents or heavy baggage, and only
a few pieces of light artillery. Washington with his
command led the advance. When within about twelve
miles of the fort word was brought to Forbes that it
was being evacuated by the French, but he remem-
bered the lesson taught by Braddock's rashness, and
treatedthereport with suspicion, continuing the march
with the greatest caution, and withholding from the
troops the intelligence he had received. On the 25th
of November, when they were marching with the
provincials in front, they drew near the fort and came
to a place where a great. number of stakes had been

- Tbis fight tooli place at "Grant's IliM," in the present city of Pitls-
Lurgli. The total loss of the English was ST.'J killed and 43 wonnded
more than one-lhird of Gianfs entire force. The commander and Major
Lewis werj tiiUen jirisoiieii? hy the French and Indians.



planted, and on these were hanging the kilts of High-
landers slain on that spot in Grant's defeat two months
before. When Forbes' Highlanders saw this they be-
came infuriated with rage and rushed on, reckless of
consequences and regardless of discipline in their
eagerness to take blooily vengeance on the slayers of
their countrymen. They were bent on the extermina-
tion of their foes and swore to give no quarter, but soon
after, on arriving within sight of the fort, it was found
to be indeed evacuated and in Hames, and the last of
the boats in which its garrison had embarked were
seen in the distance passing Smoky Island on their
way down the Ohio.

The fort was found to have been mined, but either
the enemy had left in too much haste to fire the train
or the fuse had become extinguished. The troops at
once marched up to take possession, Wasliington
witli his command being the first on the ground. On
tlie following day he wrote to the Governor of Vir-
ginia a report of the evacuation and capture of the
post as follows :

"Camp at Fort dc Qit.s\e,

" To Gov. F.vnjriER :

".Sir, — I have the pleasure to inform you that Fort
Du t^nesne, or the ground rather on which it stood,
was |)o.ssessed by his Majesty's troops on the 2uth in-
stant. The enemy, after letting us get within a day's
march of the place, burned the fort and ran away by the
light of it, at night going down the Ohio by water to
the number of about five hundred men, according to
our best information. This possession of the fort has
been matter of surprise to the whole army, and we
cannot attribute it to more probable causes than the
weakness of the enemy, want of provisions, and the
defection of the Indians. Of these circumstances we
were luckily informed by three prisoners who provi-
dentially fell into our hands at Loyal Hanna, when
we despaired of proceeding farther. A council of
war had determined that it was not advisable to ad-
vance this season beyond that place ; but the above
information caused us to march on without tents or
baggage, and with only a light train of artillery.
We have thus happily succeeded. It would be tedious
and I think unnecessary to relate every trivial cir-
cumstance that has happened since my last. . . .
This fortunate and indeed unexijected success of our
arms will be attended with happy effects. The Dela-
Wares are sueing for peace, and I doubt not that other
tribes on the Ohio are following their example. A
trade free, open, and on equitable terms is what they
seem much to desire, and I do not know so effectual
a way of riveting them to our interest as by send-
ing out goods immediately to this place for that pur-
pose. . . ."

Thus, after repeated attempts, each ending in blood
and disaster, the English standard was firmly planted
at the head of the Ohio, and the French power here
overthrown forever. On the ruins of Fort du Quesue

another work was constructed— a weak and hastily-
built stockade with a shallow ditch — and named
" Fort Pitt," in honor of William I'itt, Earl Chatham.
Two hundred men of Washington's command were
left to garrison it, and the main army marched east.
Gen. Forbes returned to Philadelphia, and died there
in March, 1759.

The new Fort Pitt was commenced in August,
1759, and completed during the fall of that year by a
force under command of Gen. Stanwix.

When the English had finally expelled the French,
and obtained possession of the country at the head
of the Ohio, in 1758, and had built and garrisoned the
first Fort Pitt at that place, one of the first objects to
be accomplished was the establishment of a route for
transportation from the East, with defensive works
and bases of supply at intermediate points. Under
this necessity the route was adopted from Fort Cum-
berland to the Monongahela at or near the mouth of
Redstone Creek, and thence down the river by water-
carriage to Fort Pitt, this being identical with the
route contemplated by the Ohio Company nearly five
years earlier, when Cajjt. William Trent had been
sent to build a fort for them at the forks of the Ohio.

In pursuance of this military plan, in the latter
part of the summer of 1759, Col. Henry Bouquet, mil-
itary commandant at Carlisle, Pa., ordered Col. James
Burd to inspect the defenses and stores at Fort Cum-
berland ; thence to march to the Monongahela, there
to erect a fort and base of supply at a point proper
and convenient for embarkation on the river. The
substance of Col. Burd's orders, and his procedure
under them, are explained in a journal kept by him at
the lime, which is found in the Pennsylvania Archives,
and from which the following entries are extracted,

" Ordered in August, 1759, to march with two hun-
dred men of my battalion to the mouth of Redstone
Creek, where it empties itself into the river Monon-
gahela, to cut a road somewhere from Gen. Braddock's
road to that place, as I shall judge best, and on
my arrival there to erect a fort in order to open a
communication by th,e river Monongahela to Pitts-
burgh, for the more easy transportation of provisions,
etc., from the provinces of Virginia and Maryland.
Sent forward the detachment under the command of
Lieut.-Ool. Shippen, leaving one officer and thirty
men to bring our five wagons. . . . When I have cut
the road and finished the fort I am to leave one offi-
cer and twenty-five men as a garrison, and march
with the remainder of my battalion to Pittsburgh. . . .

"10th Sept.— Saw Col. Washington's fort, which
was called Fort Necessity. It is a small circular
stockade, with a small house in the centre; on the
outside there is a small ditch goes round it about eight
yards from the stockade. It is situate 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.



"11th Sejit. — Marched this morning; two miles
from hence we found Gen. Braddock's grave, about
twenty yards from a little hollow, in which there was
a small stream of water, and over it a bridge. We soon
got to Laurel Hill ; it had an easy ascent on this side,
but on the other very steep. At the foot of the hill
we found the path that went to Dunlap's place, that
Col. Shippen and Capt. Gordon traveled last winter,
and about a quarter of a mile from this we saw the
big rock, so called. From hence we marched to Dun-
bar's camp, — miles, which is situated in a stony hol-
low [here follows the description of the camp, and
their search for buried guns, etc., as before quoted].
We continued our march, and got to Guest's place;
here are found a fine country.

" 13th Sept. — Determined, if the hunters .should
not return before noon, to begin to open the road along
some old blazes, which we take to be Col. Washing-
ton's.' At noon began to cut the road to Eedstone ;
began a quarter of a mile from camp ; the course
N. N. W. The course of Gen. Braddock's road
X. X. E., and turns much to y" eastward. Opened
this afternoon about half a mile. Marked two trees
at the place of beginning thus:

" ' The road to Rechtonc, Col. J. Burd, 1759.

" ' The road to Pittsburg, 1759.'

" 22d Oct.— This morning I went to the river Mo-
nongahela, reconnoitred Eedstone, etc., and concluded
upon the place for the post, being a hill in the fork of
the river Monongahela and Nemocalling's Creek, -
the best situation I could find, and returned in the
evening to camp. The camp moved two miles, to
Coal Run. This run is entirely paved in the bottom
with fine stone-coal, and the hill on the south of it is
a rock of the finest coal I ever saw. I burned about
a bushel of it on my fire.

"23d Oct. — Continued working on the road. Had
sermon to-day at 10 a.m. At noon moved the camp
two and a half miles to the river Monongahela. No
bateaux arrived.

" 2Sth Oct. — Sunday. Continued on the works ;
had sermon in the fort."

The last entry in the journal is the following:

"4th Nov. — Sunday. Snowed to-day. No work.
Sermon in the fort. Doctor Allison sets out for Phila-

From the extracts given above from Burd's journal
we gain a tolerably clear'idea of the manner in which
he conducted the expedition and built the fort at the
mouth of Dunlap's Creek on the Monongahela, viz.:
After concluding his inspection at Fort Cumberland,
and having previously sent forward a small detach-
ment under his chief engineer officer, Lieut.-Col. Ship-
pen, he set out with the remainder of his force (leav-

1 Meaning the track wliicti \mi~ i ,1 il.i^h . 1,1 . m 1 \ 1 ,1 i- r,.v\ i- .ui-I
Poison for a distance of about iil , 1 ,1; , ; ir

= Thecreck at tlicmontli ..I »!i !, ■,,, : n,, in.i,,,, \. 1,, m h t,, ili..
same afterwards known ag Diiut ip's < 'iLnk.

ing his little wagon-train to follow) and passed over
the same route taken by Braddock three years before,
to and across the Youghiogheny at the Great Cross-
ings ; thence to Fort Necessity, to Braddock's grave,
to Dunbar's camp, and to's, now Mount Brad-
dock. This was the end of his travel over the route
pursued by the ill-fiited expedition of 1755. At Gist's
he ordered his men to commence work in opening a
road thence northwestwardly towards the Mononga-
hela, following the route which Captains Poison and
Lewis had partially cut through for about eight miles
from Gist's at the time when Washington was in-
trenching at that place in June, 1754.

Having tlius set his men at work on the road from
Gist's to the Redstone, Col. Burd, with Col. Thomas
Cresap (who was with him as a guide, having previ-
ously explored this region to some extent), Col. Ship-
pen, and probably Lieut. Grayson, of his command,
rode forward through the woods to the Monongahela,
striking the valley of Redstone Creek, and following
it down to where it enters the river. It seems to have
been in contemplation to build the fort at the mouth
of this stream, where Capt. Trent's men had con-
structed the old " Hangard" store-house four years
before, but the orders of Col. Burd left it in his dis-
cretion to select the site which he might regard as the
most eligible. So, after viewing the ground at the
mouth of the Eedstone, and not finding it to suit his
ideas as the site of a fortification, he proceeded uj) the
river until he came to the mouth of Nemacolin's or
Dunlap's Creek, about one and one-fourth miles
farther up, and determined to erect his fort just below
the mouth of that stream, on the high ground (now in
the borough of Brownsville) commanding the Monon-
gahela, the valley of the creek, and the country for
some distance to the rear; this being, as he said in
the journal, "the best situation I could find."

Having thus determined the site, he returned to his
working-parties, who were progressing down the valley-
of the Eedstone, and ordered the road which they
were cutting to be deflected southward from the trail
leading to the mouth of the Eedstone. The point
where the new road was made to diverge from the trail
is described by Judge Veech as " a little northwest
of where the Johnson or Hatfield stone tavern-house
now (1869) stands." From that point the road was
laid along the ridges to the mouth of Dunlap's Creek.

On the 23d of October, Col. Burd removed his camp
to the river, and the building of the fort was com-
menced immediately afterwards. It was completed
during the following month, but the precise time is
not stated.^ It was still in process of construction at

of tlie fort seems to have been delayed on account
of scarcity of provisions. On tlie 2Gth of October, Col. Burd said iu liis
journal, "I have kept the people constantly employed on the works
since my arrival, although we have been for eight days past upon the
small allowance of one pound of beef and half a pound of Hour per man
a day, and this day we begin upon one pound of beef, not having an
ounce of flour left, and only three bullocks. I am therefore obliged to
give over working until I receive some supplies."




the date of the last entry in the journal, November 4th.
The " Doctor Allison" referred to in that entry as
being about to set out for Philadelphia, and who had
prcaelied the sermons previously mentioned in the
journal, was the Kev. Francis Allison, the chaplain
of the expedition.

The fort when completed was named, in honor of
the commander of the.e.xpedition, " Fort Burd." As
a military work, it was far from being strong or for-
midable, though bastioned. It was built in the form
of a sipiare, except for the bastions at the four angles.
The curtains were formed of palisades, set firmly in
the earth and embanked. The bastions were con-
structed of hewed logs, laid horizontally one above
another. In the centre of the fort was a large house
also of hewed logs, and near this, within the inclo-
sure, a well. The whole was surrounded by a broad
ditch, crossed by a draw-bridge, communicating with
a gateway in the centre of the curtain in the rear of
the work.' The location of the fort, with reference '
to present landmarks in Brownsville, may be de- |
scribed as west of the property of N. B. Bowman, and :
nearly on the spot now occupied by the residence of !
J. W. Jeffries. South of the fort was the bullock-
pen ; and a short distance, in a direction a little south
of east, from the centre of Fort Burd was the central |
mound of the prehistoric work once known as Red-
stone Old Fort.

Upon the departure of Col. Burd with his command,
after the completion of the fort, he left in it a garri-
son of tw(*nty-five men, under command of a commis-
sioned officer. Some accounts have it that this officer
was Capt. PauU,^ father of Col. James Paull, who
lived for many years, and died in Fayette County. It
is certain that Capt. Paull was aftcrwanh in com-
mand at the fort for a long time. Nothing has been
found showing how long Fort Burd continued to be
held as a military post. " But it seems," says Judge
Veech, "to have been under some kind of military pos-
session in 1774. During Duumore's war, and during
the Revolution and contemporary Indian troubles, it
was used as a store-house and a rallying-point for de-
fense, supply, an<l observation by the early settlers
and adventurers. It was never rendered famous by
a siege or a sally. We know that the late Col. .Tames
Paull served a month's dutv in a drafted militia com-

' In the Pcnnsjivonia Archives (xli. 347) is (i plan of tho fort,
bj Col. Shippon, tlie engineer. On this plan nri- given the
of the work, lis fullows: "Tho curtain, 97!,$ fo<-'t ; "i« flanks, 10 feet; I
the faces of the bastions, 30 feet; a ditch between the bastions, 24 feet
wide ; and opposile the faces, 12 feet. The log-house for a magazine, and
to contain tho women and children, 39 feet square. A gate G feet wide
*nd S feet high, and a drawbridge [illegible, Imt apparently 10] feet
wide." In Judge Vecch's " Monongahela of Old" is given a diagram of
Fort Burd, but it is not drawn in accordance with these dimensions, tho
curtains Iteing made too short as compared with the tize of the Kistions.

2 James L. Downian, in a historical sketch furnished by him to the
AnKricnn Piimter, and published in IS43, said with regard to this first
gariisoning of Fort Burd, "The probability is that after tho accom-
pli^liment of llie ol-jec t for which the commanding ofliccr was sent he
placed Capt. Paull in command and returned to report."

pany in guarding Continental stores here in 1778."
It was doubtless discontinued as a military post soon
after the close of the Revolution, and all traces of it
were obliterated by the building of tlir town of



The first white explorers of the vast country
drained by the two principal tributaries of the Ohio
River were Indian traders, French and English.
The date of their first appearance here is not known, C)
but it was certainly as early as 1732, when the atten- ^
tion of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania was
called to the fact that Frenchmen were known to be
among the Indians within the supposed western limits
of the territory claimed by the j>roprietaries under the
royal grant. This announcement caused considerable
discussion and some vague action on the part of the
Council, and there is no doubt that the fact, which
then became publicly known, had the effect to bring
in the English-speaking traders (if they were not al-
ready here) to gather their share of profit from the
lucrative Indian barter.

The French traders came into this region from the
north, down the valley of the Allegheny. Tradition
says they penetrated from the mouth of that river
southeastward into the country of the Monongahela
(which there is no reason to doubt), and that some of
them came many years before the campaigns of

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 11 of 193)