Virginia Frontier Defenses 1719-1795
By Roy Bird Cook
The story of the defense of the frontier of Virginia begins about the year 1719, by which time there seems to be reasonable evidence of settlers south of the Potomac River, on what is now the soil of West Virginia. The Indian, with some misgivings, of course, viewed the gradual encroachment of the white man in this region with a certain degree of tolerance. Indeed, for thirty years the two groups lived to some extent in peace and harmony. However, entrance of the French into the Ohio Valley led to the opening of the French and Indian War in 1754, which, while it ended in America by 1762, actually swept on into the fields of Europe. The opening marked the beginning of border warfare between settlers and colonial and state troops and the Indians that did not end until the power of the tribes was broken by General Anthony Wayne, in the treaty of 1795.
Robert Dinwiddie, Royal Governor of Virginia, gave more than passing attention to the western border of that day. In March, 1756, the Virginia Assembly authorized the erection of a chain of defenses on the west. Colonel George Washington, who had achieved distinction in the operations of the British Army and the local troops in the Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) region, was placed in charge. A long region reaching out from the head of the Ohio River, swinging east to Wills Creek (Cumberland), and thence roughly following the Allegheny Mountains to North Carolina, received attention. A chain of forts about twenty miles apart, designed to afford some protection for the settlers, was constructed during the next year. Many were the scenes of tragic episodes in which numerous lives were lost, especially in the region now along the South Branch of the Potomac.
The Ohio Valley was the key to the possession of the continent. The ten years of comparative peace following the close of the French and Indian War disclosed a continual movement from eastern Virginia to western Virginia, and a like movement down along the Ohio River from the Pittsburgh entrance. The old line of defense fell more or less into disuse. Then came the hectic days of 1774, and a new outbreak between the settlers and the Indians, called Dunmore's War, of which the most important episode was the Battle of Point Pleasant. A new line of defense was then developed, running from Fort Pitt, and "old Fort Redstone," following generally the Monongahela and West Fork of the Monongahela, and the Ohio Valley, together with the regions along the Great Kanawha as far west as Maysville, Kentucky. In western Virginia there then sprang up a long series of forts, stockades, and blockhouses, located at strategic points to safeguard the pioneer settlers in this region.
The defenses of the frontier may be classified into three general groups. First, the fort, which was the strongest type of a fortress, and generally but not always erected under the direction of the Executive Council of the State, and garrisoned in like manner. Second, the stockade, which was usually a large log house with a palisade around it, embracing enough ground to shelter several families in time of need. Third, the blockhouse, which was to be found of several types. Some had a second story, overhung, and others simply had provision made for rifle defense. In the preparation of the list appended, no attempt has been made to go into extensive details. There is merely a brief statement as to location. It provides a check list, arranged alphabetically, of names of posts of defense on the border, which has been compiled from records, and letters, and in some cases from pension applications of participants.
A stockade erected about 1774 by Captain Mathew Arbuckle at the mouth of Mill Creek, a branch of Muddy Creek, Greenbrier County.
A stockade, located on the east bank of Patterson's Creek, on the site of the village of Alaska, formerly Frankfort, Mineral County. Erected by a company of men commanded by Lt. John Bacon, In 1755, and named for Captain John Ashby. One of the buildings erected therein Is the only remaining structure of its kind in West Virginia dating back to the frontier posts of defense.
Erected in 1782, by Captain John Baker. Located at the head of Cresap's Bottom, Mead District, Marshall County. Also designated In many contemporary records as "Baker's Station," and sometimes as "Cresap's Fort."
A blockhouse situated on the site of Blacksville, Clay District, Monongalia County.
A small stockade, situated in Buffalo District, Brooke County, twelve miles above Wheeling. The garrison participated in the first siege of Fort Henry in 1777, and also in Indian incursions of March, 1789.
A stockade erected in 1779 by Colonel Joseph Beeler at Beeler Station Church, eight miles from the site of the town of Cameron, Marshall County. Designated as "Beeler's Station." A garrison of fifty men was stationed there in 1781.
A rather extensive fort, erected on the site of Belleville, Wood County, In 1785, under direction of Captain Joseph Wood. Composed of a group of four blockhouses, embracing a square 100x300 feet, in which was located a central fort building, 20x40, two stories high.
A small fort situated four miles south of Petersburg, in Grant County. Named for Samuel Bingaman.
The exact location has never been ascertained, but records indicate its existence in the "panhandle" above Wheeling.
A small fort situated at Red Rock, about two and one-half miles west of Buckhannon, Upshur County. Scene of an Indian foray March 8, 1781.
Mentioned in contemporary records. Situated in territory now embraced in Monroe County. Also listed as Byrnside.
A small fort located on the "Flats" on the east side of the Monongahela River, Morgan District, Monongalla County.
This fort was situated about a mile and one-half northeast of Buckhannon, above where Turkey Run joins the Buckhannon River in Upshur County. Location of settlement by Hackers, Jacksons, and others, as early as 1769.
A small fort erected about 1774 at the mouth of Roaring Creek, on the east side of Cheat River, Preston County.
A stockade located on the South Branch of the Potomac, three miles above the present town of Moorefield, Hardy County. Sometimes referred to as "Fort Waggoner," a title derived from the fact that Captain Thomas Waggoner once commanded troops at that point.
A stockade located at the "forks of Capon," in the Great Cacapon River valley, Hampshire County.
A blockhouse erected by the Chapman family in 1784, near the site of New Cumberland, Hancock County.
The history of this fort is not clear. On August 10, 1776, Col. John Stuart, at Greenbrier, reported that he "expects to have a fort soon completed at Camp Union," now Lewisburg. On Sept. 20, Captain McKee reported to Colonel William Fleming, "I arrived at Fort Charles in the Savannah on the 27th with only 17 men."
A small stockade fort erected by Henry dark in 1771, on Pleasant Hill, Union District, Marshall County. Consisted of four cabins, with a ten-foot palisade wall.
A small fort erected by Jacob Warwick at Clover Lick, Pocahontas County. Also mentioned as Warwick's Fort.
A small stockade fort erected by Jonathan Cobun in 1770, near Dorsey's Knob, on Cobun's Creek, Monongalia County.
A stockade located on Patterson's Creek, six miles southeast of Keyser, and nine miles from Fort Ashby. Named for Captain Thomas Cocke.
A large stockade fort embracing one and one-half acres with four blockhouses erected under direction of Captain John Cook, situated on Indian Creek, just below Greenville, Monroe County. It sheltered over three hundred settlers in 1778.
A small fort located on the west bank of Coon's Run, about three miles from the West Fork of the Monongahela, in Marion County.
A blockhouse erected by Leonard Cooper In 1792, on the north bank of the Great Kanawha River, eight miles above Point Pleasant.
A stockade fort located at the mouth of the Little Cacapon River, on the eastern side of the stream. Named for Friend Cox.
A stockade erected in 1774 by Captain James Robertson. It was situated on the site of a settlement established by Andrew Culbertson in 1753, now known as Crump's Bottom, on New River, Summers County. Frequently mentioned in early records as "Fort Byrd," and "Fort Field."
A small fort erected in 1774, one-half mile east of the site of the town of Crickard (Mill Creek), Huttonsville District, Randolph County. It has also been called "Fort Cassino."
A small blockhouse erected about 1780 by John G. Davidson and Richard Bailey, near the head of Beaver Pond Springs, a short distance from the site of present Bluefield.
A small blockhouse type dwelling erected by Daniel Davisson near the corner of Chestnut and Pike Streets, Clarksburg.
Located on the South Branch of the Potomac, about twenty miles above the "Trough."
A stockade situated on the site of Stewartstown, Monongalia County. Appears to have been erected by John Rogers, and sometimes called "Fort Rogers."
A large, two-story double log house surrounded by a palisaded wall erected by Col. Andrew Donnally prior to 1771, on Rader's Run, near present Wllllamsburg, Oreenbrier County. Scene of a most important action of the border wars in May, 1778, and one of the most important military posts on the frontier.
A small fort situated at Edray, Pocahontas County. Named for Thomas Drennan.
A small blockhouse, situated on the site of Dunmore, Pocahontas County.
A small fort situated near the mouth of Harmon's Creek (opposite Steubenville, Ohio), in Cross Creek District, Brooke County.
A small fort situated five miles south of present Boothsville, in Booth's Creek District, Taylor County.
A stockade located on or near the site of present Capon Bridge, Hampshire County. Named for the family of that name, owners of the land thereabouts.
Situated on the Great Cacapon River, fifteen miles from its mouth, at or near the present village of Largent.
A stockade fort situated two miles south of present Martinsburg, at the head of Big Spring, Berkeley County. Erected by John Evans, in 1756-66.
Situated on New River at what is known as "Warford," on Crump's Bottom, Summers County. Erected by Thomas Farley.
See Fort Henry.
A small blockhouse erected at what is now the corner of Main and Second Streets, in the city of Weston. Contemporary records indicate as "Flesher's Station."
A small stockade erected under direction of members of the Flinn family, located on the upper point, at the junction of Lee Creek with the Ohio River, In Wood County. In early records frequently designated as "Flinn's Station."
A small fort erected by Jonas Friend, at Maxwell's Ferry, on Leading Creek, Randolph County. Scene of important Indian forays in 1781.
A stockade situated three miles north of Romney, Hampshire County. Erected under direction of William Furman. Also called Forman and Foreman.
A small stockade situated on the east bank of the South Branch of the Potomac, near present Petersburg, Grant County. Presumably erected by the Welton family about 1754.
Erected about 1771 by Captain Peter VanBibber, situated on Wolf Creek near site of Lowell, Summers County. Scene of attack on Graham family in 1777. Possibly also known as Jarrett's Fort.
A small station erected by Andrew Lewis on the site of Marlinton, 1765.
A small fort erected by John Hadden, near the mouth of Becco's Creek, Randolph County.
A strong fort situated on the point of land on the west side of the stream at the Junction of Elkwater Creek with the Tygarts Valley River, Randolph County. Named for the family of that name who came to this location from the South Branch of the Potomac. Sometimes mentioned as Old Fort.
A blockhouse erected on Jones Run, a branch of Ten Mile Creek, about two miles from Lumberport, Harrison County. Scene of an Indian attack, March 3, 1778.
Situated, according to the Washington papers, "81 miles west of Fourt Loudoun (Winchester), and on the South Branch," for the protection of the inhabitants of the "trough" region of the valley.
A stockade fort erected by Richard Harrison at the source of Crooked Run, in Cass District, Monongalia County, on the west side of the Monongahela River.
A small stockade on the west side of Back Creek, near Hedgesville, on the road leading from Martinsburg to Berkeley Springs.
A local fort in Greenbrier County, the exact location of which is not known. In command of Captain James Henderson, September 12, 1777.
This was one of the largest and most important forts on the Virginia border. It was erected in part on the high bluff along what is now Market Street, in the city of Wheeling, in 1774, by Ebenezer Zane and John Caldwell, under the military direction of Major Angus McDonald. It was first designated as Fort Fincastle, in honor of the Viscount Fincastle, better known to Virginians as Lord Dunmore. He visited the post in the fall of 1774, with a command of twelve hundred men, during the "Point Pleasant Campaign." In 1777 the fort was rebuilt and much enlarged, embracing in all more than half an acre of ground, and renamed Fort Henry, in honor of Patrick Henry. The fort underwent a siege by Indians in 1777, and in September, 1782, was the scene of the last engagement of the American Revolution.
A stockade fort erected about 1760 by John Justus Hinkle, near the site of Riverton, on the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, in Pendleton County.
A small fort erected In 1776 on the site of Holliday's Cove, Hancock County.
Situated on the South Branch of the Potomac, at a location unknown. Mentioned in Washington Papers in 1754.
A small blockhouse, located about three miles west of Bush's Fort, on Fink's Run, Upshur County.
A small stockade erected in 1774 on Ten Mile Creek, Sardis District, Harrison County.
A small fort erected about 1772 at present Millpoint, Little Levels District, Pocahontas County. Subsequently sometimes designated as Fort Day, and Price's Old Fort, and Keekley.
A small fort situated near Keeney's Knob, Summers County.
A small fort erected by Captain William Morris In 1774, on the site of Cedar Grove, Kanawha County, at the mouth of Kellys Creek. Named for Walter Kelly, who attempted to establish a settlement at this point, but was killed by the Indians. Appears as "Kelly's Station" in many contemporary records.
A stockade fort erected about 1772 by Michael Kerns at the mouth of Deckers Creek, now the Greenmont section of the city of Morgantown. An important frontier post.
An important military post erected in April, 1788, at the corner of present Brooks and Kanawha Streets, on the site of Charleston, by a company of Virginia Rangers under Colonel George Clendenin. Named for Henry Lee, governor of Virginia, but better known as General "Light Horse Harry" Lee, of the American Revolution. Sometimes referred to as "Clendenin's Station."
A blockhouse, situated on the site of West Liberty, Ohio County. Sometimes called the "Court House Fort."
A blockhouse erected by Jacob Link In 1780, near the site of Triadelphia, Ohio County. Scene of an important Indian attack In 1781.
A stockade situated on the point at the mouth of the Great Cacapon River, Morgan County. Erected 1756.
A small fort erected by Adam and Jacob Mann, about 1770, situated on Indian Creek, ten miles west of Union, Monroe County.
A stockade erected by Presley Martin at the mouth of Fish Creek, Franklin District, Marshall County.
A fort erected by Charles Martin in 1773, situated on the west side of the Monongahela River, on Crooked Run, in Casa District, Monongalia County. Scene of an Indian attack in June, 1779.
MASON (HUGH) MILL FORT
Situated near Upper Tract, Pendleton County.
This fort was situated on the site of St. George, Tucker County, erected in 1774 by John Minear. Scene of Indian depredations in 1780 and 1781.
A small stockade fort erected about 1772, by members of the Morgan family, on the site of the city of Morgantown. Near "Fort Kerns."
A stockade embracing about an acre of ground, on Hog Run of Sandy Creek, Grant District, Preston County. Constructed under the direction of Richard Morris, in 1774.
"Fort Morris Was Virginia Defense Post"
A stockade fort erected by Captain John Morris in 1774-75. It was located on the south bank of the Great Kanawha River, opposite the mouth of Campbells Creek, near what is now known as South Malden, Kanawha County.
Situated at an undetermined location on the South Branch of the Potomac. Named for Captain Robert McKenzie. Mentioned in Dinwiddie Papers 1757.
A stockade fort erected in 1786, under direction of Captain James Neal. It was situated on the south bank of the Little Kanawha River, one mile from its mouth, in what is now the "Fort Neal" section of the city of Parkersburg. It was an important place of refuge during the Indian wars, and the object of Indian forays In August, 1789. Appears in many contemporary records as "Neal's Station."
A small stockade on Opequon River, Berkeley County. Scene of an Indian attack and massacre, September 17, 1756.
A stockade fort erected by the family of that name in 1772, on the east bank of Elk Creek, now embraced in the "Nutter Fort" section of the city of Clarksburg.
Situated on Difficult Creek, Grant County, southeast of Gormania. Also called "Logsdon Fort."
A blockhouse erected in 1750, for the Ohio Company on the site of Ridgeley, Mineral County.
Situated on the South Branch of the Potomac, ten miles from Fort Ashby.
Location unknown. Mentioned in Washington Papers, May 13, 1756, indicating that it was near Ashby's Fort.
Said to have been situated on the South Branch of the Potomac.
Small fort situated on Pawpaw Creek, not far from the town of Rivesville, Marion County.
A stockade erected by Job Pearsall, 1765-1766, on the site of present Romney.
A small stockade situated on the South Branch of the Potomac, two miles above the mouth of the North Branch, Grant County. Erected 1756.
A small fort erected in 1769 by John Pierpont. It was located about one mile from the village of Easton, and about four miles from Morgantown, in Union District, Monongalia County.
A large stockade comprising cabins, palisades and blockhouses. It was situated on the "Indian Old Fields," in Hardy County, a mile and one-half above the "Trough." Erected in 1756 by Captain Thomas Waggoner. Often called "Fort Van Meter," and later "Town Fort," because of proximity to Moorefield. Near here in 1756 was fought by the Indians and white settlers the "battle of the Trough," so widely known in the annals of the border.
A small stockade erected, presumably by James Powers, in 1771. It was located about one mile north of the town of Bridgeport, on Simpson's Creek, in Harrison County.
A stockade fort erected by the family of that name in 1774, situated at the mouth of Prickett's Creek, on the east side of the Monongahela, River, five miles below the city of Fairmont. It was here in 1779 that the celebrated encounter between David Morgan and the Indians took place.
This fort stood on the site of the city of Point Pleasant, and along with Fort Henry and Fort Donnally was one of the most important frontier military posts. The first stockade was erected here, under the direction of General Andrew Lewis, following the battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, during Dunmore's War. Later in the fall of the same year. Captain Williams Russell, with a company of rangers, appeared, and erected a new fort composed of two blockhouses, and a palisade, which was named Fort Blair, In honor of John Blair. It was evacuated and abandoned in June, 1775, and presumably destroyed by the Indians. During the summer of 1776, under the direction of Captain Mathew Arbuckle, a larger and more pretentious fort was erected, which was named Fort Randolph, in honor of Peyton Randolph. This in turn was abandoned by the garrison in July, 1779, and was burned by the Indians. About 1786 another fort was erected a short distance above the previous sites, in which a garrison was stationed until 1795, commanded most of the time by Colonel Thomas Lewis. Fort Randolph underwent a siege by the Indians in May, 1778.
A large stockade fort erected by the Rice family, located on Buffalo Creek, about fifteen miles from its mouth, in Brooke County, near the present location of Bethany College. It was the scene in September, 1782, of one of the most important episodes in the Indians wars, during which six defenders drove away a band of over a hundred Indians.
This was an important fort erected in 1774, by Arnold Richards, located on the west bank of the West Fork of the Monongahela, half a mile southeast of West Millford, Harrison County. Also designated as Lowther's Fort and West Fork Fort.
A small stockade on Lost River, Hardy County. Scene in 1766 of a battle between a body of Indians commanded by a French officer, and a company of Virginia frontiersmen. Also listed as Ruddle.
A blockhouse erected by Captain Isaac Robinson In 1794, located on the Ohio River opposite the foot of Six Mile Island, Mason County. It was attacked by Indians the same year.
A blockhouse situated on the site of New Salem, now Salem, erected by a group of settlers from Salem, New Jersey.
A most important military post located on the site of Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, presumably between 1769 and 1774. It was the meeting point for the Virginians who marched under General Andrew Lewis to Point Pleasant, In the fall of 1774. Some authorities suggest that a fort may have been erected on this site as early as 1755, under orders issued by General Braddock.
A small stockade at the mouth of Patterson's Creek, erected 1756. Named for Thomas Sellers.
A large stockade having cabins, palisades and blockhouses, situated on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, twelve miles northeast of Franklin, Pendleton County. Scene of Indian massacre, April 28,1758.
Situated on the Potomac River, near "Old Pack Horse Fort," where Shepherd College now stands, Shepherdstown. History obscure.
A most important stockade fort, erected in 1775, under direction of Captain David Shepherd, situated at the forks of Wheeling Creek, near present Triadelphia, Ohio County. It was evacuated in September, 1777, and burned by the Indians, but rebuilt in 1786, and further extended In 1790.
A stockade fort erected by John Statler after 1770, on Dunkard Creek, Clay District, Monongalia County. Scene of a bitter Indian attack in 1779 when many settlers lost their lives.
A blockhouse erected by John Stewart in 1773, on Stewart's Run, about two miles from Georgetown, Grant District, Monongalia County.
A fort erected by Colonel John Stuart, at a large spring, four miles southwest of Lewisburg, Fort Spring District, Greenbrier County. It is often referred to as "Fort Spring," and this title has been much used in other directions. An important military post, and here was held the first court of Greenbrier County. The builder was one of the most remarkable men on the border.
A small stockade fort erected by Lewis Tackett, as early as 1787, located one-half mile below the mouth of Coal River, Kanawha County. The site is now embraced in the town of St. Albans. It was destroyed by the Indians on August 27, 1790.
A stockade fort erected in 1770 by Joseph Tomlinson, on a site now embraced in the city of Moundsville, Marshall County. It was located about three hundred yards north of the noted Grave Creek Mound. It was abandoned in 1777, and about that time was destroyed by Indians, but was rebuilt shortly after 1784.
Situated at present Trout Rock, four miles south of Franklin, Pendleton County.
A title sometimes by error applied to Fort Savannah, located on site of Lewisburg. Colonel William Fleming, commanding the Botetourt troops in the fall of 1774, records on September 2nd, "we were alarmed by a report that Stuart's Fort four miles from CAMP UNION was attacked by Indians." Other contemporary records agree that the camp was known as "Camp Union" and this has subsequently been by mistake confused with a "Fort Union" and "Fort Savannah."
A stockade erected in 1756, situated a short distance west of the South Branch of the Potomac, at what is now "Upper Tract," Mill Run District, Pendleton County. Destroyed April 27, 1758, during attack by Indians, when many were killed.
A stockade fort, erected in 1774, situated on the north side of Short Creek, about five miles from its confluence with the Ohio, in Richland District, Ohio County. For a time Major Samuel McCulloch was commander.
A small stockade situated in the vicinity of present Wardensville. Hardy County.
Small fort erected by John Warwick at forks of Deer Creek, near Greenbank, Pocahontas County.
A small fort erected by Jacob Warwick, situated in what is now Huttonsville District, Randolph County. This was an important early point of defense in the Tygart Valley River region.
A stockade fort erected in 1773 by Richard Wells. It was situated on the ridge between Cross Creek and Harmon's Creek, in Brooke County. Wells was widely known among both Indians and whites as "Grey Beard."
A stockade fort erected by members of the West family, on the present site of the town of Jane Lew, Lewis County. It was built about 1770 and for a number of years offered some defense to the important settlements on Hacker's Creek, which suffered more severely at the hands of the Indians than most any other region on the border. The fort was destroyed in 1779, but in 1790 some of the settlers ventured back and built another fort a short distance away, which was called Beech Fort.
A stockade fort erected by Jacob Westfall in 1774, located on the southern border of the site of Beverly, Randolph County, near mouth of Files Creek. Scene of an Indian attack in 1782.
A stockade fort erected about 1769 by John Wetzel and his noted sons, twelve miles from Wheeling, on Wheeling Creek, in what is now Sand Hill District, Marshall County.
A palisaded house built by Major Robert White, near Cacapon River.
A stockade situated on the South Branch of the Potomac, two miles below Hanging Rock, Hampshire County.
This fort was located about half a mile above the mouth of Chenoweth's Creek, on the east side of Tygart's Valley River, Leadville District, Randolph County. This was a very important early frontier post and was erected by Colonel Benjamin Wilson, one of the most aggressive and important men on the border. In 1782 twenty- two families took refuge here.
A stockade fort situated on Rich Creek, about four miles east of Peterstown, Monroe County. It was constructed about 1773 by Captain Michael Woods and had many important contacts with operations in southern western Virginia, and with the operations of George Rogers Clark in Illinois regions.
A fort mentioned by Kercheval and others, unnamed, located seven miles above present Romney.
West Virginia History Journal
West Virginia History Center