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Hostilities between the French and British culminated in removable of the British from Fort Duquense and subsequent defeat  and surrender by Col. Washington at Fort Necessity.  To counter the encroachment by the French,  Gen. Braddock and two British regiments were summoned to expel the French from Ft. Duquesne.  On May  9th, Braddock arrived at Ft. Cumberland.  He began his march to Ft. Duquesne on June 7, 1755 and was defeated by a much smaller force of French and Indians on July 9th, 1755. 
Immediately after Gen. Braddock’s defeat,  the French and Indians began their reign of terror on the western frontier.  Among the first to experience the death and destruction were the settlers located in the lower Patterson Creek Valley.


On October 27, 1755, Colonel George Washington directed Lt. John Bacon of the Maryland Independent Company to erect two forts in the Valley to protect the residents and form the first line of defense against the marauding Indians.   As directed by Col. Washington,  the site for one of these  forts was to be on the plantation of either Charles Keller (Lot 16) or James McCracken, (Lot 17)  of the land grants issued by Lord Fairfax in 1748.


The site chosen was Lot #16 (Keller),  which  was adjacent to the main road leading to the mouth of Patterson Creek. A ninety by ninety stockade with bastions, a barracks and storehouses was  built.   Construction of the fort was completed in late November 1755.


Capt. John Ashby of the Virginia 2nd Company of Rangers was initially placed in charge of the Fort. The fort was initially manned by Ashby’s Rangers which consisted of two officers and 32 enlisted men.  Among the enlisted men was Daniel Morgan, who would achieve fame during the Revolutionary War.


 The soldiers of the Fort  engaged in numerous skirmishes with the Indians.   By late 1756 most of the settlers in the Valley had either been killed or had fled east to a safer location.  The Fort served primarily as a transit point for supplies destined for Fort Cumberland as there was no one remaining in the Valley  to protect.


Ashby’s Rangers was composed  of mostly farmers, not professional soldiers. As a result, desertion and disciplinary problems continually plagued the operation of the Fort. By Fall 1757,  the Fort was abandoned and  served  in a reduced capacity during the remainder of military operations.  The French and Indian War ended in 1763 and  settlers began returning to the Valley.

 
Located at the junction of the main road from Fort Pleasant (Moorefield) to the mouth of Patterson Creek and the main road from Winchester to the North Branch (Short Gap), the area around Ashby’s Fort was the site of considerable economic activity.   The citizens of the area  petitioned the state of Virginia to form the town of Frankfort. In December 1787, the town of Frankfort, was chartered by Virginia.  Later the name would be changed from Frankfort to Alaska then to Fort Ashby.


In 1794, Ashby’s Fort was utilized by General Washington during the Whiskey Rebellion.  More than  1,500 Soldiers commanded by Gen. Morgan, camped  here while en-route to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.


In 1927, the Potomac Valley Chapter  of the DAR purchased the Fort from Mr. Tom Pyles for $200.   The fort had been used as a school as well as a residence Through the assistance of the WPA the Fort was restored  in 1938.   The Fort was  officially opened for visitors on July 4th, 1939.


One of the striking features of the building is the double fireplace that is fourteen feet wide and four feet thick.  Numerous  other woodwork and wrought-iron materials  date to the eighteenth century.


On Dec 12th, 1970,  Ashby’s Fort was listed in the National Register of  Historic Places.


 In 1998, a archaeological dig was done on the adjacent property.  Numerous objects relating to the period were found and the results of this project are still being evaluated

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