compiled by Jim Moyer 9/20/2019, updated 9/22/2019, 10/29/19, 11/10/19
The topic is on “William Trent and Fort Prince George“
based on Jason Cherry’s recent book:
“Pittsburgh’s Lost Outpost: Captain Trent’s Fort”.
In the year 1754, before a young George Washington would set the world on fire, trader William Trent, son of William Trent of Trent’s Town at the Falls of the Delaware, and his hired volunteers would begin an outpost at the Forks of the Ohio. This would not only lay the foundation for the conflict known as the Seven Years War in Europe and the French and Indian War in the colonies, but also began the early remnants of the city we know today as Pittsburgh. In his book, Pittsburgh’s Lost Outpost: Captain Trent’s Fort, author Jason Cherry reveals new details about Trent’s foray at the frontier of the English colonies and pieces together Trent’s eventual role in American history.
SEE MORE INFO AT williamtrenthouse.org.
About Jason Cherry —
A native of Butler, Pennsylvania and 2002 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Jason Cherry has reenacted the French and Indian War for almost 30 years portraying the group of volunteers hired under William Trent Jr in 1754, a unit known as Captain William Trent’s Company. He also has conducted several speaking engagements over the last 15 years on George Washington’s role on Western Pennsylvania in 1753 and 1753. He works as an Assistant Group Supervisor for Stepping Stones Children’s Center in Gibsonia, PA and reenacts with his wife Emily and his two beautiful daughters Penny and Charlotte.
See his website –
Here is just a part of the story you will hear:
Ensign Edward Ward who is in charge of Fort Prince George (named after the future King George III) is about to find no help.
This little fort is the first fort to be built by Whites on The Point, the 3 Rivers area of future Pittsburgh PA.
4 days before the attack Ward sees a letter written by Indian Trader John Davison warning of the French approach.
No help from his Captain
Captain Trent is currently at Wills Creek ( future Fort Cumberland, King George II’s 3rd son, known as the Butcher of Culloden)
No help from his Lieutenant
Lieutenant Fraser currently at Turtle Creek (near the site of the future Braddock Expedition disaster).
In fact Ward quotes Fraser saying .
Fraser agreed that the French were likely to attack “but said what can we do in the affair,” complaining that he had a “shilling to loose for a Penny he should gain by his Commission at that time, And that he had Business which ⟨he⟩ could not settle under Six Days with his Partner”
Deposition made by Ensign Ward
Ward goes back to the fort to face his fate.
We hope you do too, to hear this story.
Ultimately this is why GW had to build Fort Loudoun in Winchester VA.
February 17, 1754
unts of choice acreage inPennsylvania, Kentucky and elsewhere. On February 17, 1754, he was one of about forty men who made the very “first settlement at Pittsburgh.” l The settlement was at ‘the Point’ at the forks of Pittsburgh’s three famous rivers. He was an ensign then in the pay of Virginia. Eight of the men were not soldiers. All of the men intended to live and labor in that settlement. They began immediately to erect what Ward termed a “stockade fort.” 2 Fate placed him in charge of the men and the work almost as soon as the construction of the fort was begun. The fact that they were routed from the settlement about two months after they established it, does not rob them of the right to be known as the men who made the first settlement at Pittsburgh.
THE WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
Volume 43 June1960 Number 2
EDWARD WARD TRAIL BLAZING PIONEER
Margaret Pearson Bothwell
MAY 4, 1754
In his letter to Fry, Dinwiddie wrote:
“I am advis’d that Capt. Trent, and his Lieut., Fraser have been long absent from their duty . . . Which Conduct & Behaviour I require & expect You will enquire into at a Court Martial, & give Sentence accordingly”
(4 May 1754, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers).
Construction of Fort Prince George,
named for the crown prince and later King George III), was begun in January 1754 by 41 Virginians.
APRIL 18, 1754
Captain Trent commanded the force constructing the fort, but his men were captured by 1,000 French soldiers and Indians led by Claude-Pierre Pécaudy de Contrecœur. At the time of the French arrival, Trent was at Wills Creek for a conference, while his second-in-command, Lieutenant John Fraser, was at his own plantation at Turtle Creek on the Mononghela River. Ensign Edward Ward was left to surrender the fort on April 18, 1754. The French attack was the hostile act of the war, and it led to George Washington’s own surprise attack at the Battle of Jumonville Glen. WIKIPEDIA ON TRENT
was compelled to surrender his small Fort in the Forks of Monongahela to the French, on the 17th past
MAY 7, 1754
EDWARD WARD’S FIRST DEPOSITION
PAGE 104 BOTTOM
MAY 20, 1754
11. Dinwiddie had proposed a council with the Ohio tribes, southern Indians, and the Six Nations which was scheduled to convene at Winchester on 20 May. GW’s apprehensions were well founded since few of the expected representatives of the tribes arrived at Winchester for the council (Dinwiddie to Sir Thomas Robinson, 18 June 1754, P.R.O., C.O., 5/14, ff. 397–400).
JUNE 30, 1756
. WARD’S DEPOSITION 1756
Copied from the Original by W. M. Darlington
in Cumberland County
The Thirtieth Day of June in the year of Our
Lord, one thousand seven hundred and fifty six.
Before me Samuel Smith Esq, one of his Majes-
ties Justices, Edward Ward of the said County Gent.
And upon his solemn oath did depose and declare,
that he this Deponent was Ensign of a Company of
Militia under the Command of Captain William
Trent in the Pay of the Government of Virginia
That at the Time said Captain Trent received the
Governor of Virginias Orders, he was at Redstone
Creek about thirty seven miles from where Fort
DuQuesne is now built and was erecting a Stone
House for the Ohio Company.
That when said
Trent received the Governors Instructions to raise a
Company he despatched Messengers to several parts
of the Country where the Indian Traders lived, there
being no other Inhabitants in that part of the Coun-
try except four or five Families who had lately set-
tled there and were upwards of Sixty Miles from
the inhabited Part of the Country
That one of said
Messengers, employed by Captain Trent came to the
42 History of Colonel Henry Bouquet
place where this Deponent was and informed him of
said Trent having received such Instructions and
upon the Half King and INIonacatoochas receiving
advice that said Trent had orders to raise a Company
they sent him a INIessage to come immediately
and huild a Fort at the Forks of the ^lonongahela
and Ohio and that they w^ould assist him as soon as
they could gather the People.
On receiving such
Message said Trent got Rafts made and every other
thing necessary for his march and accordingly did
march with what few men he had then raised in order
to meet the Indians as they requested.
That the said
Capt Trent had then erected but not quite finished
a strong square Log house with Loop Holes suffi-
cient to have made a good Defence with a few men
and very convenient for a Store House, where stores
might be lodged in order to be transported by water
to the place where Fort Du Quesne now stands
That the building this Store House was paid for by
Captain Trent, who at that time was Factor for the
Ohio Company and had orders to build said Store
House to lodge Stores which were intended for the
Building a Fort where Fort Du Quesne now stands
for the Ohio Company, which Store House was soon
after compleated by Workmen employed by said
Captain Trent for that purpose.
Trent marched from Redstone Creek to the mouth
of the INIonongahela where a number of Indians of
different Nations met him, at which Time and place
this Deponent [ Edward Ward ]
was present having met Captain
E. Ward’s Deposition 1756 43
Trent on his march and received his commission as
Ensign from him.
Captain Trent on meeting with
the Indians made a speech to them and deHvered
them a present, which was sent by the Governor of
After the Treaty was finished Captain
Trent laid out the Fort and cleared the Ground and
got some logs squared,
upon which the Chiefs of the
Six Nations then present went with us to the ground
and laid the first log and said, that Fort belonged
to the English and them and whoever offered to pre-
vent the building of it they the Indians would make
war against them.
That Captain Trent left the In-
habitants and crossed the mountains in the middle of
winter and brought a quantity of flour and Indian
Meal with him on horseback over the mountains with
Those Mountains being impassible
in winter if deep snows happen.
The first concourse
of Indians that gathered at that time during the
Treaty were maintained by Captain Trent out of the
Flour and Indian Meal, he took with him and de-
pended upon the Indians killing meat for him.
which purpose he took with him a large quantity of
goods to pay for it to the Delaware Indians, they
being the only Indians who lived adjoining, to the
place where the Fort was building, and could not be
prevailed upon to hunt, tho’ often applied to and
offered great prices for any kind of meat they could
bring in, even seven shillings and sixpence for a Tur-
At this time the Indians were much inclined
to the French, but were afraid to declare in their fa-
44 History of Colonel Henry Bouquet
vour. We lived upon Flour and Indian Meal chiefly,
while, it lasted, sometimes getting a Turkey at a
very extravagant rate.
After the Flour and Meal
was gone we lived chiefly upon Indian Corn, all that
could be got we purchased.
Mr Gist sent word that
Major Washington with a Detachment of the Vir-
ginia Regiment were on the march to join us and
would be with us in a few days and we also received
the same account from several other persons.
tain Trent waited a long time, till our provisions got
scarce, having nothing but Indian Corn, and even salt
to eat with it was scarce, very little of it to be pur-
chased, and the weather so hot the Men were not able
to work, having become very weak by having nothing
but corn to eat.
Upon this Captain Trent set off for the Inhabi-
tants to try to get some relief and I understand that
when he came to his House which was within fifty
miles of Winchester near where Fort Cmnberland
now stands that there was no account from the Regi-
ments nor any Detachment from it nor any provi-
sions sent up there and that said Captain Trent pro-
vided a quantity of provisions and was determined
to join the Company and wait the coming of the
That the day before he proposed setting
off he received a letter from Major Washington de-
siring him not to leave the Inhabitants till he saw
him as he wanted his advice, and the day they got
back to Captain Trents House, they received the news
of about eleven hundred Indians and French having
E.Ward’s Deposition 1756 4.5
come down the Ohio and taken possession of the Fort,
our people were building.
And this Deponent further saith he understood
that the detachment of one hundred and fifty men
of the Virginia Regiment under Major Washington
had been but two days at Captain Trent’s House be-
fore we came in from the Ohio
and this Deponent
further saith that he found them very ill provided,
being obliged to make use of the Flour provided by
Captain Trent and that afterwards they were sup-
plied with powder by said Trent and George Crog-
otherwise they would not have had ammu-
nition to make the least defence, that day the French
The men under the command of
Captain Trent had received no pay but what he paid
The Government intending to pay them as
the soldiers belonging to the Regiment were paid,
though they were raised as Militia, agreeable to the
Act of Assembly then in force.
The want of their pay and the unsafe march made
them refuse to serve upon any other footing.
this Deponent further saith that there was no Fort
but a few Palisades he ordered to be cut and put up
four days before the French came down.
Deponent further saith that he often heard Captain
Trent say that he did not want a commission.
his business was better than any commission and what
he did was to serve his Country and that if he could
get the Fort finished he would be satisfied.
Deponent further saith that the Soldiers who were
46 History of Colonel Henry Bouquet
willing to work were paid by Captain Trent at the
expence of the Ohio Company
and that he had often
heard Captain Trent say; it was no matter so the
Country was secured for His Majesty, which was his
view who was at the expense of the Fort, as he had
orders from the Ohio Company to build a Fort and
none from the Government to build any.
Deponent further saith that the Indians gave Cap-
tain Trent encouragement that they would join him
and drive the French off the Ohio;
but upon finding
how backward the Governor of Virginia was in send-
the Indians told Captain Trent that for
what men he had with him they looked upon them as
no addition to their strength,
as they had long lived
among them, looked upon them all one as themselves,
but if the Virginians joined them, which they saw
no signs of, then they would join heartily,
the Half King desired Captain Trent to go to the
Inhabitants and forward the troops and provisions.
And this Deponent further saith that after Captain
Trent, left the Fort in order to go to the Inhabitants,
and hurry out the Troops and Provisions and recruit
his Company that Mr Gist came to the Fort and
desired him to send some men with him to bring down
a quantity of Provisions which were laying at Red-
That this Deponent then sent a num-
ber of men up the Monongahela for said Provisions.
That he understood afterwards there were no provi-
sions there, that before the men who were sent for
them got back, the French came down and obliged this
E. Ward’s Deposition 1756 47
Deponent to surrender, he having no place of De-
fence but a few Palhsadoes which he had ordered to
be put up four days before upon hearing the French
were coming down and that he had no Provisions but
a little Indian Corn and but forty one soldiers and
Workmen and Travellers who happened to be there
at the time and the French Eleven hundred in num-
ber, And this Deponent saith he saw several pieces of
Cannon pointed at the Fort within musket shot but
could not tell the number, but was afterwards told
by the Indians there were nine pieces of Cannon.
Sworn to at Carlisle the
Thirtieth day of June 1756 Edward Ward.
Before me Sa Smith
Enclosure: William Trent to Adam Stephen, 21 January 1756
William Trent to Adam Stephen
Mouth of Conicochig [Md.] 21st January 1756
I received yours by Mr Fraser at Carlisle as I was returning from Philadelphia as you don’t acknowledge the receipt of one from me dated at Carlisle makes me imagine it miscarried[.]
In that Letter I acquainted you with the reason why I could not procure the Indians then—I have now engaged three, Crissopia to goe to Kittannen and Fort Du Quesne and two others to goe to the Twightwees provided you choose to send them—
Crissopia asks Twenty Pounds and each of the others Twenty five pounds—
I thought it a great deal of money therefore did not choose to agree with them Punctually till you were acquainted with their demands—
If you choose to send them if you’ll draw out your Instructions and send any Officer with them to Fort Littleton about Twenty Miles from Stoddards1 first giving me Notice of the time you intend to send there I will send to Mr Croghan to bring the Indians there against the time, he promised to bring them if I wrote to him that you wanted them and I will send any goods or Wampum you will have occasion for—
This was the best mannor I could manage it for you[.] Should I have carried them to the Fort, & they would not goe without a White Man with them & you have thought it too high Wages they would have been affronted unless they had been paid as much allmost as they were to have had to gone to the Fort so I thought this the most prudent way & am in hopes you will be of the same way of thinking[.]
I parted with Governour Morris & the Commissioners at Carlisle the 19th—there was no Indians at the Treaty except those that keep with Mr Croghan[.]2
Either the 22d or 23d of this Month General Johnston is to meet the Six Nations at his House to demand the Reason why they suffer the Delawares and Shawnesse to kill the English
and to demand their Assistance and to insist upon a positive answer[.]3
General Shirley has given orders for a Treaty with the Southern Indians, the Governments of Pennsylvania Virginia and Maryland are to send Commissioners and he has wrote to the Governours of the Carolinas to assist at the Treaty and appoint the place where it is to be held.4
The Pennsylvanians have Raised three Hundred Men in Cumberland County who are building Four Forts to be Garrisoned with 75 Men each, the Forts about 20 Miles distant each from the other, One at the Sugar Cabbins called Fort Littleton Commanded by Capt. Hance Hamilton, One at Aughwich Capt. Geor. Croghan called Fort Shirley, One at Kishequochillas called Fort Granville Capt. James Burd, One at Mockingtongs called Pomfret Castle Capt. James Patterson[.]5
They give their Men 45/ Pr Month the Capts 7/6 Lts 5/6 Ensigns 4/6 Pr day though it’s thought they’ll raise the Capts. pay to 10/ pr day.
By the Last Accounts from England they expect an Invasion and are fortyfying the Coast, they had then 343 Sail of Vessels lying in the Harbours which they had taken from the French
I am Dr Sir Your most Humb. St
PS You’ll oblige me to send me the Ballance of that Accot by the first oppertunity
1. Fort Lyttleton, built at the Indian town of Sugar Cabins on Aughwick Creek, was on the road that James Burd built for General Braddock, between Shippensburg and Raystown. Northeast of Fort Cumberland, it was the southernmost of the string of forts and stockades being built in Pennsylvania with the £60,000 the legislature finally raised in response to the Indian raids beginning in Oct. 1755. Lt. Thomas Stoddert (d. 1761) of the Maryland forces had in Sept. 1755 by Governor Sharpe’s order built a small fort on Tonoloway Creek. This creek flows into the Potomac River from Frederick County, Md., a few miles west of the mouth of Sleepy Creek in Virginia.
2. Only six or eight Indians showed up at Carlisle to meet with Gov. Robert Hunter Morris, James Hamilton, William Logan, and Joseph Fox. These included Old Belt, a Seneca chief and a spokesman for the Indians, and his son-in-law Aroas (Silver Heels). The meeting was originally scheduled for New Year’s Day, but after several postponements it was finally held on 15–17 Jan. Conrad Weiser and George Croghan also attended and served as interpreters.
3. Sir William Johnson did not hold his meeting with the Six Nation Indians at Fort Johnson, N.Y., until February.
4. For Shirley’s plan for dealing with the southern Indians, see John Robinson to GW, 27 Jan. 1756, n.2.
5. After the Pennsylvania Assembly reluctantly appropriated £60,000 for the defense of the colony at the end of November, Governor Morris promptly set about erecting a series of forts on the frontier. The line along which the forts named here were built was on the western slopes of the Kittatinny and Tuscarora mountains and ran in a northeasterly direction from Fort Lyttleton (see note 1) to Fort Shirley at Aughwick, from there to Fort Granville on the Juniata River, and ended at Pomfret Castle, “at a River calld Matchitongo, about twelve miles from the Sasquehana” (Morris to Horatio Sharpe, 29 Jan. 1756, in Pa. Archives, 1st ser., 2:556). Kishacoquillas Creek flows into the Juniata River at present-day Lewistown, Pa., and West Mahontango Creek flows into the Susquehanna at Richfield. Capt. Hance Hamilton, sheriff of York County, Pa., in 1749 and 1750, led his company in Col. John Armstrong’s expedition against the Indians at Kittanning in the summer of 1756. Capt. James Patterson’s homestead in the Juniata Valley was the site of Pomfret Castle, and it was often called Patterson’s fort. James Burd (1726–1793) and George Croghan were both prominent frontiersmen. Burd rose to the rank of colonel in the Pennsylvania forces, and Croghan shortly became Sir William Johnson’s invaluable deputy superintendent of Indian affairs.
To George Washington from Adam Stephen, 31 January 1756
From Adam Stephen
Fort Cumberland [Md.] January 31st 1756
I forgot to acquaint you, that The Governor, when I was at Williamsburgh,1 desird if possible, to procure Some Indians of Repute among their Tribes, to carry a message amongst the Confederate Nations of the Twightwees, To Sound their Intentions, know their Affection to the English, and how far they are attached to the French.
I wrote him afterwards that Captain Trent had promis’d to procure them; having Sent Fraser to bring it about, as I look upon it as an Important piece of Intelligence, and desird his Honor to Send his Instructions and Speeches to you to be deliver’d to the Messenger at Fort Cumberland or where you pleasd, with your Own proper Injunctions. Whether you have receivd such Instructions I cannot Say, but you will See by Trent’s Letter the Indians are ready,2 and had they been brought to Will’s Creek, Nothing being Ready for the Ambassy, we Should have been brought into further Contempt with them. I think that the Expence is inconsiderable, compard with the Service, and Intelligence; and the Sooner they are dispatchd the Better.
We were alarum’d on the 23d by having one Barnet of the Light Horse, Scalp’d within 300 yards of the Command tending the Cattle up the North Branch: One Batemore of The Troop and Peckwood who was about the first of October chasd all the way from Ray’s Town by the Indians, are missing Since That morning, from the Same place.3 I detachd Capt. Bronaugh with Captain Josh. Lewis and 100 men to Scour the mountains, and bring Intelligence, with orders to proceed as far as Williams plantation, to Examine towards George’s Creek, and pursue the Enemy towards the South Branch, If they found that they had Crossd the North Branch.
To my Surprise They Return’d the Same night, without the least Intelligence. I afterwards Sent out Capt. Jno. Mercer, Captain McKenzie and 80 men to Scour the mountains towards the Alleganay, and from George’s Creek towards Martins As far as the North Branch, never touching the road in the march—They are not Returned, and I expect a Satisfactory Acct from them as soon as they do. I have orderd the Watermen to Land the flour they Bring up from Cannogochigoe at Walkers at the Mouth of Pat. Creek, where I shall be obligd to send a guard. We have no Room for it here, and we wait to hear from you before we build any more Storehouses. If we build on Pattersons Creek, It is conveneint to have it there. We want a Store house for the Quarter Mr.
A very Rich affair has Happen’d latley—I indulged Mr Roe in Carpenters and Nails planks &c. to build a house, and now it is finished, he has sold it to Buckner for £20.4
And I hear it Whisperd that They design to have a Chemny put to One of the Storehouses within the Fort for him to live in, which I will take Care to prevent untill I hear from you.
I have given up nothing hitherto.5 The Report of the Redoubt Regard is made to me daily, where all the prisoners of the Regmt Are; I send out what parties I think proper, and do with the Regmt wtout Contrac⟨t.⟩ You will see what they are about in pennsylvania by Trent’s Letter. There is a Recruit of Captain Bronaugh’s, and One of Lt. Blag’s, who were both Cloathd, and brought up here, and beig judged Useless and discharg’d, The Cloath therefore, and charge of bringing Up are a dead weight. I long to hear from You, and am with Respect Sir, Your most Obet huble Servt
1. Stephen was in Williamsburg in Oct. 1755.
2. See enclosure.
3. On 31 Jan. 1756 Stephen listed as deserters since 24 Jan. Samuel Packwood of Charles Lewis’s company and Phill Bodmore of Robert Stewart’s troop.
4. John Walker’s plantation was on the Potomac River 25 miles from Pearsal’s and 8 miles from Fort Cumberland. Mr. Roe was probably Lieutenant Roe of Capt. John Dagworthy’s Maryland company at Fort Cumberland.
5. Undoubtedly GW discussed with Stephen when they were together in Winchester in early January what Stephen should do to maintain his authority at the fort in the face of Dagworthy’s claims to seniority at Fort Cumberland. For evidence of this, compare Stephen to GW, 9 Dec. 1755, and GW to Dinwiddie, 14 Jan. 1756.