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Cumberland and Washington's Formative Years, page 2

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area, is that the youthful Washington was undergoing in the five-year period (1753 to 1758) the training that was to prove so fruitful in the War for Independence. Fort Cumberland, Fort Necessity, Fort Bedford and Fort Ashby (all in the Tableland) are importantly identified with those formative years of the immortal Washington. Historians have been prone to slight the period that began in 1753 (when the 21 year old Virginian carried out Dinwiddie's assignment to warn the French that they were trespassing on British territory) and ended in 175 8 (when the French gave up their occupation of the Ohio country).

Of all the places that played a part in Washington's early career (between the ages of 21 and 26) Fort Cumberland takes precedence.

To this British trading and military center just 200 years ago (in the spring of 1754) Lieutenant Colonel Washington led a portion of the troops that were commanded by Colonel Joshua Fry, whose commission from Governor Dinwiddie commanded him to "erect and maintain a fort at the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers . . . and there act according to your instructions."

Washington had left Alexandria, Virginia, in April, 1754, with Wills Creek (later Fort Cumberland) as his first objective.

Wills Creek was also known at that time as "The new Storehouse,'' and on May 9, 1754, Colonel Washington had penetrated as far as Little Meadows (near Grantsville) from which point he wrote, in part, as follows to Governor Dinwiddie:

"Our main body since the first instant have been laboriously employed in making and amending the Road (westward from Wills Creek) and have got no further than these Meadows about 20 miles from the new store, where we have been two days making a bridge and are not done yet. The great difficulty and labour that it requires to alter the Road, prevents our marching above 2, 3 or 4 miles a day and I fear (though no diligence shall be neglected) we shall be detained some considerable time before it can be made good for the carriage of the Artillery with Colonel Fry."

Shortly thereafter occurred one of those unexpected events that some would designate as an "act of God."

Almost as he entered Cumberland, Colonel Fry was thrown from his horse and so badly injured that he died and was buried May 31, 1754.

Quoting from a family record in his "Memoir of Colonel Joshua Fry," the Reverend P. Slaughter says:

"Colonel Fry was buried near Fort Cumberland, near Wills Creek, on May 31, 1754. . . . Washington cut the following inscription on a large oak tree which stands as a monument to his memory: 'Under this oak lies the body of the good, the just and the noble Fry'."

The burial place of Colonel Fry is unknown today, some maintaining


J. William Hunt


Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Editor: Felix G. Robinson

Maryland, History

Western Maryland, 1750-1963

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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