Fort Frederick to be Re-Dedicated
Fort Frederick To Be Re-Dedicated
By RAY C. THOMPSON U. S. Antietam Celebration Commission.
HAGERSTOWN, Md., Aug. 30.
The Maryland State National Emergency Council has just announced the installation of a permanent museum of historical relics at Fort Frederick, near Hagerstown, to be completed in time for the 75th Anniversary and Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam and nearby Sharpsburg, with the biggest celebration in the East September 4th to 17th.
Just six miles off transcontinental highway U. S. 40, where North Mountain meets the Potomac, Fort Frederick was built in 1756, 20 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and served in the French and Indian Wars, Revolution and Civil Wars. It is the only old fort in America whose walls remain intact to this day. First on the main trail to the great unbroken West, the Fort later become isolated from travelers when the National Pike went through. Fort Frederick was saved from being submerged beneath the tide of growing towns—as was Forts Cumberland, Loudon and Pitt.
On September 8 before noon, Governor Nice of Maryland, with officials of Maryland State Forestry, U. S. National Park Service, and the U. S. Antietam Celebration Commission will rededicate the structure that once saved the State—one of the important ceremonies of the 75th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Antietam, which will be witnessed by President Roosevelt, September 17.
Fort Frederick's foursquare walls of stone and mortar, 17 feet high and three feet thick, were built with 12 foot wide portals, hung with hinges weighing 42 pounds each. Six pound guns kept watch, east, west and north on mountain forests and the Potomac, for the Cherokees had spread terror with their scalpings of all who ventured beyond civilization's frontier at Frederick, Md., and over South Mountain.
The fort brought peace for awhile, until General Braddock made his colossal mistake, leading his beautiful British "Red Coats" in military formation against the French and Indians, contrary to the advice of a frontiersman of that day, George Washington.. This successful defeat of the white man emboldened the Indians to renewed warfare. Chief Pontiac of the Ottawas united the Five Nations to an uprising whose avowed purpose was to leave not a pale face alive in the new world.
And again was heard the most dreadful sound ever uttered by human lips—the war whoop. Delaware braves, the terrible Shingas, scalped and decapitated men, women and children—such tortured deaths that to draw the last breath was a boon. The alarm spread, isolated farms were hurriedly abandoned; wagons loaded with women and children were rushed to the sheltering arms of Fort Frederick from all of the great Cumberland Valley. Filled with overflowing, 1,200 refuges made camp at her feet . . . settlers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany and France who had come to enjoy the freedom of new soil without the intolerable burdens of the old world, determined at all costs to live their own lives and shape their own destinies.
Pontiac's war was ended with summer, following successive defeats of the Five Nations, after Governor Sharpe of Maryland had raised the bounty on scalps from ten to 50 pounds.
Sterner use came to Fort Frederick as a prison for 1,000 Hessian mercenaries in 1780 during the Revolution, after which the fort was sold as a farm to Robert Johnson for eighteen hundred dollars, in 1791, and for 69 years more all was peace and quiet, until pressed into service the third time during the winter of 1861 and '62, when it served as a Civil War post for Colonel John Kenly's 1st Maryland Regiment, commanding the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.
Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees, working under the National Park Service and the Maryland Forestry Service have repaired the wall facings of the quadrangular structure, reinforced the ancient
parapets and reconstructed a wooden catwalk, restoring the old firing platform.
Roy C. Thompson
Used with permission of the Connellsville Courier, Pennsylvania
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862: Centennial celebrations, etc
Washington County (Md.), 1937.