Day 41, Saturday, August 25, 2018
Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Farmington, Pennsylvania
The Fort Necessity National Battlefield unit has more than just French and Indian War history. It has the history of a period of colonial expansion and the growth of a young United States that spans over 100 years!
We talked in my last post about General Braddock, who was assigned command in the area after George Washington’s defeat at Fort Necessity. As he commanded troops to gain control over the French in the area, Braddock’s troops worked to extend and widen the road that George Washington had built in the area two years earlier. Sadly, Braddock was killed in battle in July 1755 during the Battle of the Monongahela. It was an absolute disaster for the British, with the French and their Native American allies firing on the British from nearly invisible positions in the woods. 900 of the 1400 British troops were killed or wounded (more than half of the 900 were killed).
Braddock was shot through the lung, perhaps by his own troops, and was carried back off the front line by his men. He knew he was dying, and asked that George Washington oversee his burial; he died four days later on July 13, 1755. Washington buried Braddock in the road that they had been building, as he feared that the French or Native Americans may steal or mutilate the body if they were to find it. Almost 50 years later, in 1804, workers repairing the Braddock Road came upon the remains and reburied him a short distance away. It is now marked by a monument that was erected in 1913, and there is an original section of the road there as well. The original burial site of Braddock is marked too.
As the road was already established when Congress authorized the construction of the National Road beginning in 1806, it made sense that it would follow this route. The Mount Washington Tavern was built here in 1830, as a stagecoach stop for travelers along the National Road. In the evenings when the stage stopped for the night, men could get a drink in the bar room and women and children could relax in the parlor. Bedrooms upstairs accommodated multiple travelers and were segregated by sex. This tavern operated as a business until the railroad came through the area and rendered it obsolete. It was purchased and maintained as a family home for the next 75 years, before being sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and then ultimately the National Park Service to be added to the Fort Necessity National Battlefield unit.
When I visited the tavern was open for self-guided tours, and I was surprised to find myself absolutely alone in the building. I mean, the rooms were protected by plexiglass, but there was no ranger.
I wandered around a bit, and got the distinct feeling that this place was haunted! I checked out all of the rooms, but did not linger! I wonder what this old tavern has seen over the last 190 years!? It was still so fascinating to see – we certainly take travel for granted these days!