The Chain of Forts Built by the Province

Across Pennsylvania for Protection

from the Indians


Colonel Armstrong, who was the Washington of early Penn­sylvania, in a letter to Gover­nor Morris, after referring to the massacre of the inhabi­tants in the Great Cove by the Indians under Shingas, the Delaware King, says, "I am of the opinion that no other means than a chain of forts along the south side of the Kittachtinny Mountains from Susquehanna to the temporary line, can secure the lives and properties of even the old in­habitants; the new settlements being all fled except those of Sherman's Valley."


These forts, beginning at Carlisle,  incuded Shippens­burg, Chambersburg, Fort Loudon, Fort Lyttleton, Fort Shirley in Huntingdon County, at a place about twenty milesnorth of Fort Lyttleton, nam­ed in honor of General Shir­ley. This stands near the path used by the Indians and In­dian traders to and from the Ohio, and is therefore the eas­iest way of access for the Indians.  Swinging toward the southwest from Fort Lyttle­ton to Bedford--then known as Raystown, another fort was built at Ligonier, and, last Fort Duquesne, built by the French where Pittsburgh nowstands. It was fired by the French, who fled at the ap­proach of the forces led by Washington in November, 1758. Washington was serving under General Forbes. These forts were supplemented by blockhouses built by the set­tlers.  Officers were sent out tolocate and build them in 1755.


Under the date of February 9, 1756, Governor Morris says in a letter to General Shirley: "For the defense of our west­ern frontier I have caused four forts to be built beyond the Kittochtinny Hills. One stands on the new road toward the Ohio opened by this Province, and about twenty miles from the settlement. I have called it Fort Lyttleton in honor of my friend, Sir George Lyttle­ton. The road will not only protect the inhabitants of that region, but being upon a road which in it few miles joins General Braddock's route, coming from Cumberland, Maryland, met the road refer­red to at the Mountain House, (Lincoln Highway), it will pre­vent the march of any regulars that may enter the Prov­ince,and at the same time, serve as an advance post or magazine to the westward. I have placed a garrison of sev­enty-five men at each of these forts, and ordered them to range the woods each way. Fort Shirley in Huntingdon County, Fort Lyttleton in Ful­ton County, and Fort Loudon in Franklin County were al­most in a straight line north and south. The original plan of Fort Lyttleton preserved at Harrisburg, shows it to have been an elaborate and well-arranged defensive work. Nothing now remains of the Fort, but the name perpetuat­ed by the small village near its site. The choice of name in­terests us. George Lyttleton, statesman and man of letters, was born in England in 1709 and was educated at Eaton and Oxford. From 1744 to 1754 he held the office of Lord Commissioner of the Treasury. In 1755 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, retiring from that office in 1756, which year he was raised to the peer­age of Lord Lyttleton, Baron of Frankley, in the County of Worchester. Lord Lyttleton took a lively interest in the affairs of Pennsylvania and corresponded not only with General Forbes, but with Gen­eral Shirley, Governor Morris and several members of the Penn family. In the letter from Governor Morris to Gen­eral Shirley he states he had named the new fort for his friend, George Lyttleton, in honor of his having been ele­vated to the peerage.


Sipes (Indian Wars ofPenn­sylvania) relates that after the destruction of the Indian village of Kittanning by Arm­strong, September 8, 1756, in which Captain Hugh Mercer was wounded, the latter tried to make his way back to the settlements. The journey took an entire month and Mercer nearly starved. Seven miles east of Frankstown he lay down, abandoning all hope of reaching the sett1ements. A band of Cherokees in the British service, coming from Lyt­tleton on a scouting expedi­tion, found the exhausted captain and carried him to the fort on a bier of their own making. Colonel Armstrong stopped several days at Fort Lyttleton in September, 1756, on his return from the Kittanning expedition. ­


In June, 1757, several mur­ders were committed near the fort. In a letter to Colonel Armstrong from George Cro­ghan he says, "On Friday there was a man killed near Henry Paulius' and two of his children taken. The same even­ing a young lad was fired on by .seven Indians, from whom he made his escape, wounded in three p1aces. The same day a daughter of GerrardPende­grass was killed and scalped in sight of Fort Lyttleton." Croghan adds that the troops were to march from the fort the same evening, in February, 1758.


Again the authority is Sipes. In July, 1763, George Cro­ghan, without authorization and at his own expense, rais­ed a garrison of twenty-five men for Fort Lyttleton. When Bouquet, marching from Car­lisle the third week of July to the relief of Fort Ligonier, came to Forts Loudon and Lyttleton, he found they had been abandoned by their gar­risons. Bouquet reached Fort Bedford--then Raystown--­July twenty-fifth.


It was in these Indian wars that the settlers learned to think and act independently of the mother country and thus learned to know their strength. They had become fond ofliberty. They knew their rights and dared to main­tain them. Men from different colonies had learned to fight shoulder to shoulder, and many sectional jealousies were allayed. The treatment by the British also helped to unite the colonists. The best Ameri­can officers were often thrust aside to make place for young British subalterns. Yet Wash­ington, Gates, Montgomery, Stark, Arnold, Morgan, Putman, all received their train­ing, and learned how, when the time came, to fight even the British regulars.


David Scott is believed to have held the oldest proprie­tary title to land in the Great Cove, dated November 6, 1749. (Five years before the pur­chase of the land from the Indians. Colonial Authorities had no legal claim to the land). David Scott gave his bond to pay and maintain a body of twenty-seven scouts for three months, during which time the Indians were repulsed, and the settlers were enabled to har­vest their crops. This seems to have been during the sum­mer of 1763, when the In­dians, by a preconcerted move­ment, fell upon the frontiers during harvest time and kill­ed many settlers in sections surrounding the Great Cove.  (This David Scott was an an­cestor of Charles Scott, of Mc­ConneIlsburg). The Scott farm over the ridge is site of land in this warrant.


(Source: The History of Fulton County Pennsylvania, Elsie S. Greathead, 1936, pp. 7-9.)

Contributed for use by the Bedford County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/~bedford/)

Bedford County Genealogy Project Notice:

These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.



Return to Bedford County Genealogy Project

 (c) Bedford County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project