The Point: Extremely Well Situated for a Fort
From The Journal of Major George Washington, sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty's Lieutenant Governor, and Commander in Chief of Virginia, to the Commandant of the French Forces on Ohio.
Wednesday, October 31st, 1753.
I was commissioned and appointed by the Honourable Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; Governor, &c. of Virginia, to visit and deliver a Letter to the Commandant of the French Forces on the Ohio, and set out on the intended Journey the same Day: The next, I arrived at Fredericksburg, and engaged Mr. Jacob Vanbraam, to be my French Interpreter; and proceeded with him to Alexandria, where we provided Necessaries. From thence we went to Winchester, and got Baggage, Horses, &c. and from thence we pursued the new Road to Wills-Creek, where we arrived the 14th of November.
Here I engaged Mr. Gist to pilot us out, and also hired four others as Servitors, Barnaby Currin, and John Mac-Quire, Indian Traders, Henry Steward, and William Jenkins; and in Company with those Persons, left the Inhabitants the Day following.
The excessive Rains and vast Quantity of Snow which had fallen, prevented our reaching Mr. Frazier's, an Indian Trader, at the Mouth of Turtle-Creek, on Monongahela [River] till Thursday the 22d. We were informed here, that Expresses had been sent a few Days before to the Traders down the River, to acquaint them with the French General's Death, and the Return of the major Part of the French Army into Winter Quarters.
The Waters were quite impassable, without swimming our Horses; which obliged us to get the Loan of a Canoe from Frazier, and to send Barnaby Currin, and Henry Steward, down the Monongahela, with our Baggage, to meet us at the Forks of Ohio, about 10 Miles, there to cross the Aligany.
As I got down before the Canoe, I spent some Time in viewing the Rivers, and the Land in the Fork; which I think extremely well situated for a Fort, as it has the absolute Command of both Rivers. The Land at the Point is 20 or 25 Feet above the common Surface of the Water; and a considerable Bottom of flat, well-timbered Land all around it, very convenient for Building: The Rivers are each a Quarter of a Mile, or more, across, and run here very near at right Angles: Aligany bearing N. E. and Monongahela S. E. The former of these two is a very rapid and swift running Water; the other deep and still, without any perceptible Fall.
About two Miles from this, on the South East Side of the River, at the Place where the Ohio Company intended to erect a Fort, lives Shingiss, King of the Delawares: We called upon him, to invite him to Council at the Loggs-Town.
As I had taken a good deal of Notice Yesterday of the Situation at the Forks, my Curiosity led me to examine this more particularly, and I think it greatly inferior, either for Defence or Advantages; especially the latter: For a Fort at the Forks would be equally well situated on the Ohio, and have entire Command of the Monongahela; which runs up to our Settlements and is extremely well designed for Water Carriage, as it is of a deep still Nature. Besides a Fort at the Fork might be built at a much less Expence, than at the other Place.--
Nature has well contrived this lower Place, for Water Defence; but the Hill whereon it must stand being about a Quarter of a Mile in Length, and then descending gradually on the Land Side, will render it difficult and very expensive, to make a sufficient Fortification there.-- The whole Flat upon the Hill must be taken-in, the Side next the Descent made extremely high, or else the Hill itself cut away: Otherwise, the Enemy may raise Batteries within that Distance without being exposed to a single Shot from the Fort. (4)