FORT LIGONIER...ROOM FOR AN ARMY ON THE MOVE
-ALSO THE TOWN SQUARE
-AND ST. VINCENT'S ARCH ABBEY
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2008
I WAS CONCERNED THAT SINCE IT WAS SUCH A GLORIOUS EARLY AUTUMN DAY AND WITH THE
250th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIGGEST BATTLE HERE ONLY A WEEK AWAY, THAT THE PLACE WOULD
BE CRAWLING WITH TOURISTS TO, UM, RUIN MY PICTURES...BUT, AGAIN, AS YOU CAN SEE....
In the middle of the 18th century, Great Britain and France were not only engaged in the struggle in Europe
known as The Seven Years War, but also entered into what is called The French and Indian War in the
New World for control of the vast inland basin both wanted. The French had built Fort Duquesne at the
Forks of the Ohio, present-day Pittsburgh, one of the most vital locations necessary for control of the area.
The English made several attempts to drive the French out, and in 1758 decided to mount a full-scale
campaign under the command of General John Forbes. He was to take his army through the woods and
over the mountains, making a series of forts as he went, for the final assault on Fort Duquesne.
Fort Bedford had been recently finished, but the distance from it to Fort Duquesne was too far for an army to
travel without a place to reprovision and to rest. There was an Indian village named 'Loyalhannon' at a spot by
a wide creek almost half way between Bedford and Duquesne and it was here that the decision was made to
build the new fort to serve as the 'staging area' for the assault on the French.
Work began on September 4, 1758 on what was originally called The Post at Loyalhanna, but shortly later it was being
called Fort Ligonier, named after the commander-in-chief of the British Army, Field Marshal Lord John Ligonier. The
outer retrenchments are 1,600 feet long so that an army and its equipment could be accommodated within them, thus
making Ligonier a 'post of passage' for a traveling army.
The French and their allies decided that an offensive maneuver would be their best defense, and on October
12, 1758 attacked the uncompleted fort with about 1,200 French soldiers and several hundred Indians. The
battle lasted four hours, ending with the French and Indians being beaten off and fleeing back to Duquesne.
In mid-November Colonel George Washington and his Virginian Regiment arrived and joined the
force at Ligonier. In the picture above is the hospital area and Indian encampment which lay outside
the retrenchments. On the other side, a protected way had been made leading down to Loyalhanna Creek,
which is Delaware for 'middle stream'.
Above and below in these pictures show where the military siege train was kept. The French thought the British would
not attack Fort Duquesne with winter so close, but Forbes and Washington pressed on westward. After the battle at
Fort Ligonier, though, the French realized they would lose, and so when the British arrived at the Forks of the Ohio,
the French had retired northward, leaving Duquesne burning. Ligonier had been the turning point for the British. With
Duquesne gone, the British established their own fort at the Forks, naming it Fort Pitt after Prime Minister William Pitt,
and giving birth to the future city of Pittsburgh. Fort Ligonier became known as 'the key to the west' and was never taken
by the enemy. During the Indian wars which followed, it served as a place of refuge for the settlers. In Pontiac's Revolt
of 1763 (see The Battle of Bushy Run...Flour Sacks and Indians), along with Fort Pitt, was the only stronghold that did
not fall. It was decommissioned from active service in 1766.
The fort itself is on a rise with the creek off to the right. There are several Conestoga wagons to represent the
200-400 hired in 1758 to transport Forbes' supplies. Each could carry 1,500 pounds and was pulled by two to
four horses. The driver didn't ride in the wagon, but either rode one of the horses or walked behind the wagon.
The original fort had disappeared more than 175 years ago, but archaeological excavation and hundreds of objects found in the ground,
have enabled its reconstruction on its actual site in its original appearance. It is the finest fort of its type in the United States. Eight acres
of the original site have been preserved.
Reconstruction began in 1953 and the fort was opened to the public the following year with only half of the inner fort built.
The entire fort was not completed until 1996.
Looking through the outer gate up toward the inner fort.
Looking back toward the outside encampment over the retrenchments. The fort had been built on long-established
European principles with the inner fort square and having bastions at each corner. The materials they used in construction
were easily available in the wilderness.
Joey on the logs trying for a good shot of the siege train below. He took nearly 30 more pictures than I did!
Beyond the retrenchments, only a few scattered trees had been left. The rest had been felled far beyond
the reach of any enemy musket fire, for the forest around the fort was very dense and could provide
excellent cover to attackers.
Part of the area between the outer retrenchments on the right and the inner fort up the hill to the left.
The tripod was a hoisting device called a triangle gin and used for lifting cannon barrels into position.
The walls of the inner fort. The blockhouse was General Forbes'.
The upper, eastern gate to the inner fort. There is a small sentry box outside each gate.
Looking through the eastern gate into the inner fort with the officers' quarters straight ahead, the storehouse and
surgeon on the right.
Joey down in the powder magazine.
Above and below...the surgery
In the center of the upper fort looking south toward the officers' mess.
Inside the officers' quarters.
Looking back toward the barracks on the right and the storehouse on the left.
The western 'prow' of the fort is called 'the fascine battery' because of the way it is lined. The 8" bronze howitzer
here fired exploding shells which the Indians had never seen before.
Looking through the southern gate of the fascine battery toward the outer retrenchments.
The officers' mess
Inside the officers' mess
Above and below...inside the barracks
Above and below...inside the storehouse. The large box in the front is a musket crate.
Looking past the barracks
Southern view from the fascine battery.
The 'moat' with the fascine battery up on the right
The town of Ligonier was laid out by John Ramsey in 1817 when there were only a handful of families in the
Valley. Laurel Mountain to the east and Chestnut Ridge separate the Ligonier Valley from the world, permitting
very few ways of entering and protecting it as though by two great walls 25 miles long and 10 miles apart.
In the center of the little town, the town square is known as 'the Diamond' and stage coaches stopped there so passengers could
eat and reprovision. The news was told here and farmers came to trade their produce and it became the crossroads of the Valley.
Now the Diamond is surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants.
Standing in the Diamond, looking over dogwoods toward the church tower.
Above and below...dogwood berries
Still trying to identify this one (also in picture above this one). Is possibly some sort of crabapple?
Is not shiny, slightly soft, peachy-yellow inside, with small dark puckers all over the outside. If you
know, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks!
The Benedictine arch abbey at St. Vincent's college not far from Ligonier. The sun was behind the
tower on the right. .
Statue of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, founder of St. Vincent's in 1846. This was the first Benedictine monastery
in the United States. Wimmer was a monk from Bavaria who came to America to found the Benedictine educational
system. Carl and Joey are talking by the railing.
Joey lighting a candle for his Grandpapa's upcoming thyroid surgery.
Reflection in the holy water...
LINK TO A GREAT, MORE DISTANT VIEW OF THE BASILICA WITH THE
SKY FILLED WITH THE ORANGE/GOLD LIGHT OF COMING HURRICANE IKE.
BACK TO JO'S OTHER PLACE
BACK TO UPHILL AT DUFF IN AUTUMN
BACK TO UPHILL AT DUFF IN AUTUMN
BACK TO AN AUTUMN FARM ON THE WAY
BACK TO A BITTERSWEET DAY AT BUSHY RUN
BACK TO DOES A LEAF HAVE A TALE? PART ONE
BACK TO DOES A LEAF HAVE A TALE? PART TWO
BACK TO IF I SHOULD WALK AN HOUR ALONE
BACK TO WELLINGTON AUTUMN
BACK TO SUNLIT WATER
BACK TO THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT
BACK TO AUTUMN OUT MY CAR WINDOW
BACK TO VICTORIAN BELLEFONTE
BACK TO WASHINGTON WAS EVERYWHERE!