Once Virginia received permission to built a post at the forks of the Ohio, Christopher Gist, acting as agent, moved quickly to pre-empt French occupation of the area. Construction began in Feb 1754 by William Trent's Company. On 17 Apr 1754, 500 French forces captured the unfinished fort. As the Virginians were outnumbered 10 to 1, they quickly accepted the terms of surrender and departed. The French immediately set to work building a much larger fort known as Fort DuQuesne. In July, they burned what remained of the Virginia fort.
Courtesy of Harfang. Fort DuQuesne as it was in 1755
The French fort was named in honor of Marquis DuQuesne, the governor-general of New France. It was built on the same model as Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario.
On paper, controlling the confluence of the three rivers looks strong, however, the area was low, swampy and prone to flooding. It was surrounded by highlands which an enemy could get in and shoot down on the fort. The commander was getting ready to abandon the fort in 1755 with Braddock's advance, but the advance was halted by annihilation. In Sep 1758, the garrison at Fort DuQuesne defeated a British advance. In 1758, the Forbes expedition did arrive at the fort. Rather than allow the fort to be taken, the French destroyed the fort. All that remains of Fort DuQuesne is a brick outline in Point Park.
During the winter of 1758-59, the British built a temporary fort until construction on Fort Pitt could begin. The temporary fort was known as Fort Mercer or Hugh Mercer's Fort. It's stone magazine stood until 1852 when it was torn down for a railroad terminus.
Fort Pitt was completed in 1761. During Pontiacs Rebellion, Fort Pitt was held under seige from 22 Jun 1763 until 1 Aug when the warriors heard of Colonel Bouquet's approach along the Forbes Rd and went to meet him there in the Battle of Bushy Run.
Five brick blockhouses were built outside the fort in 1764. Only one still remains, Bouquet's Redoubt. It is cared for by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
After 1764, the British no longer did any further construction on the fort, only maintenance. They turned it over to the colonists in 1772. The area was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia Colonies. After Virginia took control of the fort, they renamed it Fort Dunmore in honor of their governor, Lord Dunmore. The fort was the staging area during Dunmore's War.
During the American Revolution, patriots occupied the fort, while the British occupied Fort Detroit. After that, the fort became a federal military supply depot until it was abandoned in 1792. The Fort Pitt Museum is located in the reconstructed Monongahela Bastion. The Flag Bastion has also been reconstructed.
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