returning to the great meadows, Washington decided it prudent to
reinforce his position. Supposedly named by Washington as Fort
Necessity or Fort of Necessity, they constructed a storehouse to
store supplies such as gunpowder, rum, and flour.
The crude palisade they erected was built to defend supplies in
the fort's storehouse from Washington's own men who he described
as loose and idle.
By June 12, 1754, Washington had under his command 293
colonials and nominal command of 100 additional regular British
army troops from South Carolina. Washington spent the remainder of
June 1754 extending the wilderness road further towards his
destination for an advanced base which was Redstone Old Fort, near
present-day Brownsville, Pennsylvania, on the Monongahela River.
Late in the day, Washington did not know the French situation.
Feeling that their position was untenable, Washington accepted
surrender terms which allowed the peaceful withdrawal of his
forces which he completed on July 4, 1754.
The French subsequently occupied the fort and then burned it.
Washington did not speak French, and stated later that if he had
known that he was confessing to the "assassination" of
Jumonville, he would not have signed the surrender document.
Park Formation and Structure
Attempts to preserve the location of Fort Necessity were
undertaken and on March 4, 1931, Congress declared the location a
National Battlefield Site under management of the War Department.
Transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, the park was
re-designated a National Battlefield on August 10, 1961.
As with all historic sites administered by the National Park
Service, the battlefield was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places on October 15, 1966. Subsequent archaeological
research helped to uncover the majority of the original fort
position, shape and design. A replica of the fort was completed in
A new visitor center, which also is home to a National Road
interpretive center opened on October 8, 2005. The battlefield and
fort are currently being improved, with a the fort replica being
reconstructed to look more historically accurate, new informative
signs being added, and the historic treelines and charge locations
Along with the fort, the national battlefield also features two
other historic sites. On a hillside adjacent to the battlefield
and within the boundaries of the park is Mount Washington Tavern,
a classic example of the many inns lining the National Road,
America's first federally-funded highway.
The land on which the tavern was built was originally owned by
George Washington, who purchased the site on which he commanded
his first battle just a few months before his death in 1799. In
1827, Judge Nathnial Ewing of Uniontown constructed the tavern.
James Sampey acquired the land and constructed an inn along the
It was operated by his family until the railroad construction
boom caused the National Road to decline in popularity, rendering
the inn unprofitable. In 1855, it was sold to the Fazenbakers and
served as a private home for the next 75 years, until it was
acquired by the National Park Service in 1933 and restored.
The Mount Washington Tavern demonstrates the standard features
of an early American tavern, including a simple but congenial
barroom that served as a gathering place, a more fancy parlor room
that was used for relaxation, and crowded bedrooms in which people
would crowd in order to catch up on sleep.
In a separate unit of the park lying about one mile east of the
battlefield lies the grave of General Edward Braddock. The
legendary British commander oversaw many French and Indian War
battles and led the construction of a useful, but inadequate
wilderness road through Western Pennsylvania.
Braddock was severely wounded in a failed siege on Fort
Duquesne. He and his regiment fled along the wilderness road to a
site near Great Meadows. Here, on July 13, 1755, the worn-out
general died and was buried in an elaborate ceremony presided and
officiated by George Washington.
His grave was hidden by the British, hoping to keep the site's
location out of the hands of the enemy. His body was discovered in
1804 by men making repairs to the wilderness road. A fitting
marker was erected in 1913.