Fort Necessity was a small stockade in western Pennsylvania built by Virginia Militia led by George Washington in 1754.
Beginning in the 1740s both England and France had merchants engaged in the fur trade with American Indians peoples in the Ohio Country. By the 1750s, English colonists, especially the investors in the Ohio Company, also hoped to convert the wilderness into viable farms.
Each side moved in the 1750s to deny the other access to the Ohio Country. In the early 1750s, French soldiers captured several English trading posts. They also built Fort Duquesne (modern-day Pittsburgh), so that they could defend their territory from English incursions. In 1754, George Washington and a small force of Virginia militiamen marched to the Ohio Country to drive the French from the region. Hoping to capture Fort Duquesne, Washington quickly realized that the fort was too strong. Washington retreated from the fort and constructed Fort Necessity. If he could not drive the French from the area, he would at least contest their presence with his own fortification. He also hoped to convince American Indians of England's military dominance of the region, and to persuade them to ally themselves with the British rather than the French. A force of French soldiers and their Ohio Country American Indian allies overwhelmed Fort Necessity on July 3, 1754. This engagement is considered by many historians to be the start of the French and Indian War in the New World. The French permitted Washington and his men to return to Virginia safely. They, however, had to promise that the English would not build another fort west of the Appalachian Mountains for at least one year. England did not officially declare war until 1756.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.