Colonial America: Discover Fort Ligonier

Lengthy earlier than Ligonier, PA was the lovable city it’s right now…. Lengthy earlier than the city sq. with its gazebo and retailers… Lengthy earlier than we have been america of America… Fort Ligonier staked a British declare for Colonial America on this lovely, mountainous area in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.

Fort Ligonier: A Laurel Highlands Should See

A tour of Fort Ligonier is a “should see” when visiting Ligonier, PA within the Laurel Highlands — and never only for historical past buffs.

The fort, which I confess was not on my should see record beforehand, is an extremely correct reconstruction of what existed right here from 1758-1766, through the time of the French and Indian Warfare.

Whereas I anticipated simply one other Early American fort, I discovered a lot extra. Fort Ligonier was essential to our nation’s improvement, throughout a time when the world was quickly altering. I’m so glad I acquired to go to — and be taught.

Fort Ligonier, timber fort with British flag and mountains of the Laurel Highlands behind

A short historical past of Colonial America and Fort Ligonier

In the course of the French and Indian Warfare (1754-1763), the British wished to assert land touring east to west throughout Colonial America, together with touring west from the vital political metropolis of Philadelphia towards Pittsburgh and its confluence of navigable rivers.

→ Be taught Extra: Historic Boat Excursions in Pittsburgh ←

To help westward growth, the British constructed a sequence of forts alongside the “Forbes Street” in order that troops and provides might make the lengthy journey towards Pittsburgh, and the French-occupied Fort Duquesne, safely.

Fort Ligonier was the final fort alongside the highway, the place troops and provides gathered in preparation to battle the French to achieve management of Fort Duquesne in what’s now the Pittsburgh tri-rivers space.

Blue, wooden supply wagon with red wheels showing iron knobs to cross rough terrain with Fort Ligonier, British Flag and Laurel Highlands behind

On the similar time, the French have been constructing a sequence of forts stemming south from Quebec towards what’s now Louisiana, alongside the Mississippi River. Their aim, to assert the hall alongside the Mississippi from North to South so they might increase out from the river.

Each the British and the French knew that land management equaled energy, and each nations wished the sources that this new frontier supplied.

In colonial instances, forts have been constructed from obtainable sources — within the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands, that meant timber!

And, Fort Ligonier is strategically constructed subsequent to the Loyalhanna Creek (a river), excessive on a hill with lengthy views of the mountains throughout the river. There was no approach the French would sneak up on them right here.

Have you ever ever thought of these pivotal moments in American historical past to marvel how completely different life can be had the French received that battle?

Commanding Management at Fort Ligonier

The affect of management on success is hardly a brand new idea. Within the shaping of america, although, many people — myself included — don’t all the time know who the nice leaders have been.

In preparation for my go to, I learn a brief article on Fort Ligonier, and realized that George Washington performed a task. Immediately, I assumed that he was in cost. I used to be flawed.

→ Go to George Washington’s Mount Vernon: An entire planning information ←

Whereas George Washington did serve at Fort Ligonier — and made what he considers his best army mistake right here — he was not in cost. He was a younger officer, good, tenacious and courageous. However, he was not the commander in chief. He was only a younger officer, below the command of one other, working his approach up the ladder by means of exhausting work.

The true visionary of Fort Ligonier was Normal John Forbes. Regardless of being deathly sick — Forbes was so sick he commanded the troops from a litter carried between two horses — Forbes understood how vital it was to seize Fort Duquesne. He additionally was one of many first to grasp the significance of working with Native Individuals, and never underestimating them.

Ligonier, PA’s dedication to historical past

Fort Ligonier, constructed of picket timbers, was not meant to final. It was a fortification constructed to serve and shield the Colonial Military — and it did so, from 1758 to 1766.

Over time, land the place the fort stood was used for farming by the residents of the Ligonier.

It wasn’t till 1949 that efforts started to revive Fort Ligonier as a historic web site and museum.

Officer's quarters at Fort Ligonier show work table, wood stove and personal effects
Officer’s Quarters at Fort Ligonier

Ever since, proper as much as right now, archeologists and historians have painstakingly restored the fort on its unique footprint. Guests right now can see the fort virtually precisely because it stood within the 1760s.

The fort itself requires fixed maintenance — like I mentioned, picket forts weren’t constructed to final.

Past the fort reconstruction, together with outbuildings and weapons, Fort Ligonier additionally has a fairly wonderful historical past museum. One part shares the historical past of the world side-by-side with Colonial American historical past. One other part shares the story of the positioning, together with many objects discovered throughout excavation. There’s additionally an space devoted to George Washington, together with letters he wrote reflecting on his time at Fort Ligonier.

Tent and dress up clothes depicting life at Fort Ligonier -- hands on exhibit is in the museum

The Battle at Fort Ligonier

Fort Ligonier can be simply one other forgotten provide chain depot of Colonial America, aside from what occurred on October 12, 1758.

French troops from Fort Duquesne got here up the mountain on the opposite facet of Loyalhanna Creek, in all probability a small contingent to see what the British have been as much as at Fort Ligonier.

View from inside the walls of Fort Ligonier, looking out over the Laurel Highlands. Cannons set to defend the fort

Normal Forbes, despatched troops to assault.

It was chilly. Fog blanketed the mountain. The British troops didn’t return as anticipated.

Normal Forbes determined to ship our good buddy, George Washington, to assist out. Washington and his regiment did as they have been advised, besides… Washington made the selection he considers to be his best mistake.

It entails the fog.

I received’t let you know extra. Go to Fort Ligonier — examine it in his personal phrases.

Anyway… All this occurred on October 12, 1758. In the long run, the British received, capturing French troopers who advised them the French have been abandoning Fort Duquesne.

The British captured Fort Duquesne (not exhausting when it’s deserted).

The British additionally deserted it — it was vulnerable to flooding — and constructed close by Fort Pitt. From then on, westward growth was potential.

When you’ve got been to this area, you now know the way all the pieces named Duquesne, Pitt and Forbes acquired their names.

Fort Ligonier Days

Since 1960, the city of Ligonier remembers this well-known battle throughout Fort Ligonier Days, a multi-day occasion held the second week of October yearly.

Fort Ligonier Days is a town-wide competition commemorating the October 12, 1758 assault on Fort Ligonier. The fort grounds are crammed with historic re-enactments, together with all of the sights, sounds and smells of 1758. Re-enacters depict the British, French and Native American individuals who performed a task within the assault. The supporting solid, so to talk, is there as effectively so households can expertise this vital second in American historical past.

In fact, no competition can be full with out honest meals, craft distributors and different leisure that occur all through city.

In addition to all of the Fort Ligonier distributors who come to city, Ligonier’s boutique retailers and cafes rejoice Ligonier Days as effectively. Whereas the fort impressed the city’s founding, it’s the locals — the city residents, the regionally owned retailers and cafes — who introduced the fort again to life.

They usually know the way to rejoice their heritage!

Plan your go to to Fort Ligonier

When visiting the Laurel Highlands, enable half a day to discover Fort Ligonier. Indoor museum reveals are fairly informative. However, the reconstructed Fort Ligonier, constructed to scale on the grounds the place it initially stood, enable guests to step again in time. It’s not exhausting to think about what life was like if you see it this fashion.

British Flag and signage at entrance to Fort Ligonier Museum

The fort and museum are open day by day from Spring by means of Thanksgiving weekend.

  • Hours: Hours range, and may be discovered at their web site or by calling 724-238-9701.
  • Admission: Adults, $15, Ages 62+, $12; Youngsters 4-17, $8, Army, Veterans and Legislation Enforcement, $8.
    • Admission contains all galleries and reveals within the museum and the fort space. Excursions are self-guided, although fort employees and volunteers can be found to reply questions.
  • ADA Accessibility: Constructed as an correct copy of the fort because it existed in 1758, Fort Ligonier isn’t 100% accessible. Museum employees will direct those that want wheelchair help to a drop off level on the high of the fort for simpler accessibility. Whereas wheelchairs can not entry buildings inside the fort grounds, doorways are open so that folks can look inside. The museum is accessible.

Guided group excursions at Fort Ligonier

One of many perks of my job is guided excursions of museums, which permit me to be taught extra concerning the museum within the little time obtainable for the tour, together with an opportunity to ask questions as I’m going. Job effectivity, ?

At Fort Ligonier, anybody can get a guided group tour. Reservations should be made upfront by calling 724-238-9701. Group measurement and schedule availability are decided by the museum employees.

Should you can work it out, I extremely advocate taking a guided tour of Fort Ligonier. Their tales carry the historical past to life, serving to you image what life was actually like for the colonial troopers and their entourage.

Perimeter wall at Fort Ligonier, built of timber with outward facing spiked logs, guard house and British flag

On my tour, I stood on the base of the fort, imagining myself carrying a 60 pound pack on my again and having to climb the hill to get contained in the fortress partitions. Not my concept of superior journey, by the way in which.

The information confirmed me the “moat,” defined how the wooden retains rotting and must be changed, and helped me perceive the psychological trauma our Colonial Military confronted.

We stood exterior the cabin the place Normal John Forbes stayed, and my information shared the story of his management and sickness. The cabin sits contained in the outer wall of the fort, however exterior the interior wall of the fort. In my thoughts, his cabin location appeared susceptible — why not have him keep within the interior ring?

First, that interior ring was saved for provisions and ammunition. With out meals and weapons, the folks wouldn’t survive. Important provides and weapons have been high precedence.

Second, I noticed his cabin as being on the perimeter — the periphery. However, the information defined that many of the troops really lived in tents and rustic cabins past the outer wall of the fort. If there was an assault, the French must get by means of all these troops to get to the Normal, and the troops knew they couldn’t let that occur.

As he defined it, I pictured an American soccer recreation and requested, “So, primarily, the troops exterior the wall are the offensive line defending the quarterback, Normal Forbes?” He chuckled, and mentioned, exactly. (We had talked soccer already, so this didn’t come out of the blue — precisely.)

Anyway, a gaggle tour at Fort Ligonier provides you the prospect to be taught extra about these issues that the majority curiosity you. They let historical past come to life. It’s an extremely worthwhile expertise right here.

Be taught extra concerning the Laurel Highlands

There’s a lot to do within the Laurel Highlands, actually household trip worthy. Be taught extra:


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