By 1748 settlers were beginning to move from the great Valley of the Shenandoah into the mountains to the west. Joseph Edwards had secured a prime location in the Cacapon River valley. With the opening of the French and Indian War in 1754, Edwards's location would become important.
After General Braddock's defeat in 1755, the Virginia frontier was left open to attack by the French and their Indian Allies. Although Quebec was far away, the French knew that a successful attack on Virginia's frontier might cause the British to cease their westward expansion. It was only natural for Col. George Washington to strengthen this site as a fort for his Virginia Regiment and as an important point for the protection of the road to the South Branch Valley forts. In the first half of the French and Indian War, Edwards's Fort was manned and maintained by the Virginia Regiment at Col. Washington's orders.
Today we know little about the Fort at Joseph Edwards. Its location has been verified by preliminary archaeological excavations, but much remains to be discovered. In May of 1756 after Mercer's Massacre, the House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virginia, at the urging of Col. Washington, ordered a chain of forts to be built from Henry Enoch's at the Forks of Capon south to Halifax County. Several of these forts were in Hampshire County, but only the site of Edwards's Fort is definitely located and available for investigation today.
The Foundation has done two extensive archaeological excavations that are beginning to reveal the outline and extent of the fort. Since there were no drawings or descriptions of the original fort, the archaeological work is the only way we have of determining the character of Edwards's fort.
Pictures and information were provided by Fort Edwards
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