Fort Ashby in the Youghiogheny Glades
FORT ASHBY IN THE YOUGHIOGHENY GLADES
Rev. J. C. Breuninger
This is the story of a fort—a fort which was destined to play a much more important role in the development of this region than in its defense. However, to tell the story completely, it is necessary to digress at the beginning.
It is a peculiar fact of history that one event, seemingly only remotely related to another, nevertheless casts an influence which can be measured only by the most careful study.
Thus it is that most historians, in narrating the battle of the Monongahela, have had a tendency to disassociate it from what subsequently developed in the Tidewater region.
In the middle years of the 1700's, many of the venturesome who had prepared to cross the mountains became panicky when they learned of the defeat of General Edward Braddock at Fort Duquesne, now the site of the city of Pittsburgh. This occurred in 1755, during the French and Indian War.
One of the members of Braddock's staff was young George Washington, later to gain recognition for himself in other military and political activities. Following the defeat of Braddock, Washington and Robert Dinwiddie, a British colonial administrator, were at variance as to policy. Washington felt that, despite the defeat, Virginia should remain on the offensive; Dinwiddie decided that a defensive strategy would be of greater protection to the people who had settled in the mountainous country, and to others who would follow in the great migration westward in the years to come.
Accordingly, he recommended a chain of forts along the border of the Allegheny settlements, from the upper Potomac valleys to the Holston River in Tennessee. Since the Patterson Creek and South Branch Valley settlements were on the extreme frontier, and exposed to direct attack, they were the first to be fortified. More than one hundred of these forts were subsequently built in West Virginia and Maryland territory.
Following the instructions of his superior, Washington implemented orders to erect two forts on the east side of Patterson Creek. Fort Sellers was erected at its mouth, and Fort Ashby was constructed five miles upstream. Thus it was that on Christmas Day, 1755, Captain Charles Lewis, of Fredericksburg, with a garrison of 21 men, took charge of Frankfort (later Fort Ashby). The fort was never surrendered.
Rev. J. C. Breuninger
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Editor: Felix G. Robinson
Western Maryland, 1750-1963