Fort Le Boeuf

Last updated
Fort Le Boeuf
Waterford, Pennsylvania, USA
Fort Le Boeuf.jpg
Fort Le Boeuf during 1754.
Coordinates 41°56′22″N79°58′57″W / 41.939510°N 79.982452°W / 41.939510; -79.982452
Site information
Controlled byRoyal Standard of the King of France.svg  Kingdom of France 17531759
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Kingdom of Great Britain 17591763
Site history
In use17531763
Battles/wars French and Indian War
Pontiac's Rebellion
Garrison information
Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre

Fort Le Boeuf (often referred to as Fort de la Rivière au Bœuf) was a fort established by the French during 1753 on a fork of French Creek (in the drainage area of the River Ohio), in present-day Waterford, in northwest Pennsylvania. The fort was part of a line that included Fort Presque Isle, Fort Machault, and Fort Duquesne.


The fort was located about 15 miles (24 km) from the shores of Lake Erie, on the banks of LeBoeuf Creek, for which the fort was named. The French portaged supplies and trade goods from Lake Erie overland to Fort Le Boeuf. From there they traveled by raft and canoe down French Creek to the rivers Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi.

Today, the site of the fort is occupied by the Fort LeBoeuf Museum [1] , operated by the Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society.


Captain Paul Marin de la Malgue began construction on 11 July 1753; [2] Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre began command of the fort on 3 December 1753. This fort was the second of a series of posts that the French built between spring 1753 and summer 1754 to assert their possession of the Ohio Country. These four posts Fort Presque Isle, Fort LeBoeuf, Fort Machault, and Fort Duquesne ran from Lake Erie to the Forks of the Ohio; they represented the last links of France's effort to connect its dominions in Canada with those in the Illinois Country and Louisiana. The English trading post of John Frazier, at Venango at the junction of French Creek and the Allegheny River (where Franklin is now located) was seized and occupied. Leaving a force to garrison the new posts, the French command returned to Canada for the winter. [3]

Fort LeBoeuf (modern Waterford, Pennsylvania) guarded the southern end of the portage road between Lake Erie and French Creek, which flowed to the Allegheny River and ultimately to the River Ohio. It served as a French trading post and garrison until 1759, when the capture of Fort Niagara forced the French to abandon the Ohio Country. [4]

Washington's mission

Robert Dinwiddie, the governor of Virginia, sent the 21-year-old George Washington to Fort Le Boeuf with seven escorts, in order to deliver a message to the French demanding that they leave the Ohio Country. Dinwiddie's initiative was in response to the French building forts in the Ohio Country. Washington took Christopher Gist along as his guide; during the trip, Gist saved the young Washington's life on two separate occasions. Washington and Gist arrived at Fort Le Boeuf on 11 December 1753. Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, commandant at Fort Le Boeuf, a tough veteran of the west, received Washington politely, but contemptuously rejected his blustering ultimatum. [5]

French Forts, 1753 and 1754 French Forts 1754.png
French Forts, 1753 and 1754

Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre gave Washington three days hospitality at the fort, and then gave Washington a letter for him to deliver to Dinwiddie. The letter ordered the Governor of Virginia to deliver his demand to the Major General of New France in the capital, Quebec City. [6]

During his stay, Washington noted that the fort had one hundred men, a large number of officers, 50 birch canoes and 70 pine canoes, many unfinished. He described the fort as on a south or west fork of French creek, near the water, and almost surrounded by it. Four houses composed the sides. The bastions were made of piles driven into the ground, standing more than 12 feet (3.7 m) high, and sharpened at the top. Port holes for cannon and loop-holes for small-arms were cut into the bastions. Each bastion mounted eight six-pound cannon and one four-pound cannon guarded the gate. Inside the bastions stood a guard-house, chapel, doctor's lodging and the commander's private stores. Outside the fort were several log barracks, some covered with bark, others with boards. In addition, there were stables, a smithy and other buildings.


The French and Indian War began on 28 May 1754 with the Battle of Jumonville Glen. Some four years later, on 25 July 1759, the French surrendered Fort Niagara. During August 1759, the commander of Fort Presque Isle sent an order to Fort Machault and Fort Le Boeuf to abandon their positions. After the French had complied, the British took possession of their sites. It is unclear whether the French burned Fort Le Boeuf when they abandoned it. If so, the British rebuilt it.

During Pontiac's Rebellion, on 18 June 1763, a war party of Native Americans burned Fort Le Boeuf. The survivors escaped to Fort Venango, but it too was burned, so they continued to Fort Pitt.

On 1 August 1794, Major Ebenezer Denny reported to Governor Thomas Mifflin from Le Boeuf. He described a fortification with four blockhouses, manned by riflemen. The two rear blockhouses had a six-pound cannon on the second floor, as well as swivel guns over the gates.

When Judge Vincent settled in Waterford during 1797, he wrote, "There are no remains of the old French fort excepting the traces on the ground..."

Related Research Articles

1753 Calendar year

1753 (MDCCLIII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1753rd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 753rd year of the 2nd millennium, the 53rd year of the 18th century, and the 4th year of the 1750s decade. As of the start of 1753, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Fort Duquesne

Fort Duquesne was a fort established by the French in 1754, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. It was later taken over by the English, and later Americans, and developed as Pittsburgh in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Fort Duquesne was destroyed by the French, prior to English conquest during the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War on the North American front. The latter replaced it, building Fort Pitt between 1759 and 1761. The site of both forts is now occupied by Point State Park, where the outlines of the two forts have been laid in brick.

Fort Prince George was an uncompleted fort on what is now the site of Pittsburgh, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The site was originally a trading post established by Ohio Company trader William Trent in the 1740s. Construction of Fort Prince George, named for the crown prince and later King George III), was begun in January 1754 by 41 Virginians. The plan to occupy the strategic forks was formed by Virginia Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, on the advice of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, whom Dinwiddie had sent on a mission to warn French commanders they were on English territory in late 1753, and had made a military assessment of the site. 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.

Waterford, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

Waterford is a borough in Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,517 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Erie Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Robert Dinwiddie

Robert Dinwiddie was a British colonial administrator who served as lieutenant governor of colonial Virginia from 1751 to 1758, first under Governor Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, and then, from July 1756 to January 1758, as deputy for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun. Since the governors at that time were largely absentee, he was the de facto head of the colony for much of the time. Dinwiddie is credited for starting the military career of George Washington.

Queen Alliquippa

Queen Alliquippa or Queen Aliquippa was a leader of the Seneca tribe of American Indians during the early part of the 18th century.

Christopher Gist

Christopher Gist (1706–1759) was a colonial British explorer, surveyor and frontiersman. He was one of the first European explorers of the Ohio Country. He is credited with providing the first detailed description of the Ohio Country to Great Britain's colonists. At the beginning of the French and Indian War (1754), Gist accompanied Colonel George Washington on missions into this wilderness and saved Washington's life on two separate occasions.

French Creek (Allegheny River tributary)

French Creek is a tributary of the Allegheny River in northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York in the United States.

Battle of Fort Necessity Early battle in the French and Indian War

The Battle of Fort Necessity took place on July 3, 1754, in what is now Farmington in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The engagement, along with the May 28 skirmish known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen, was George Washington's first military experience and the only surrender of his military career. The Battle of Fort Necessity began the French and Indian War, which later spiraled into the global conflict known as the Seven Years' War.

Redstone Old Fort — or Redstone Fort or Fort Burd — on the Nemacolin Trail, was the name of the French and Indian War-era wooden fort built in 1759 by Pennsylvania militia colonel James Burd to guard the ancient Indian trail's river ford on a mound overlooking the eastern shore of the Monongahela River in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania near, or on the banks of Dunlap's Creek at the confluence. The site is unlikely to be the same as an earlier fort the French document as Hangard dated to 1754 and which was confusedly, likely located on the nearby stream called Redstone Creek. Red sandstones predominate the deposited rock column of the entire region.

Fort Presque Isle

Fort Presque Isle was a fort built by French soldiers in summer 1753 along Presque Isle Bay at present-day Erie, Pennsylvania, to protect the northern terminus of the Venango Path. It was the first of the French posts built in the Ohio Country, and was part of a line that included Fort Le Boeuf, Fort Machault, and Fort Duquesne.


The riverside village of Logstown, near modern-day Baden, Pennsylvania, was a significant Native American settlement in Western Pennsylvania, and the site of the 1752 signing of the treaty of friendship between the Ohio Company and the Six Nations occupying the region in the years leading up to the French and Indian War—during which Logstown became nearly depopulated and abandoned. Being an unusually large settlement, and because of its strategic location, Logstown was an important factor of all parties developing the Ohio and tributary rivers.

Fort Machault

Fort Machault was a fort built by the French in 1754 near the confluence of French Creek with the Allegheny River, at present-day Franklin, in northwest Pennsylvania. The fort was part of a line that included Fort Presque Isle, Fort Le Boeuf, and Fort Duquesne.

George Washington in the French and Indian War Overview about George Washington in the French and Indian War

George Washington's military experience began in the French and Indian War with a commission as a major in the militia of the British Province of Virginia. In 1753 Washington was sent as an ambassador from the British crown to the French officials and Indians as far north as present-day Erie, Pennsylvania. The following year he led another expedition to the area to assist in the construction of a fort at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before reaching that point, he and some of his men, along with Mingo allies led by Tanacharison, ambushed a French scouting party. Its leader was killed, although the exact circumstances of his death were disputed. This peacetime act of aggression is seen as one of the first military steps leading to the global Seven Years' War. The French responded by attacking fortifications Washington erected following the ambush, forcing his surrender. Released on parole, Washington and his troops returned to Virginia.

Venango Path was a Native American trail between the Forks of the Ohio and Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, United States of America. The trail was named after the Native American village of Venango where French Creek flows into the Allegheny River. The village is now the site of the small city of Franklin, Pennsylvania.

Murdering Town was a Lenni Lenape community that comprised several smaller villages along the Connoquenessing Creek and Breakneck Creek near present-day Harmony, and Evans City, Pennsylvania, United States. The village was located along the Venango Path which ran through what was then the Ohio Country during the French and Indian War. Today, the area is part of Western Pennsylvania.

French Creek Council

The French Creek Council serves Boy Scouts in six counties in northwestern Pennsylvania and one township in Ohio. The council was organized in 1972 from a merger of the former Washington Trail Council of Erie, Custaloga Council of Sharon and Colonel Drake Council of Oil City, Pennsylvania. It has headquarters in Erie, Pennsylvania.

LeBoeuf Creek (Pennsylvania)

LeBoeuf Creek is an 18-mile (29 km) long tributary of French Creek in Erie County, Pennsylvania in the United States. It has a drainage basin of 63.6 square miles (165 km2).

John Fraser was a fur trader licensed by the Province of Pennsylvania for its western frontier, an interpreter with Native Americans, a gunsmith, a guide and lieutenant in the British army, and a land speculator. He served in several of England's expeditions against the French and their allies in the vicinity of Fort Duquesne and later Fort Pitt.

Old Portage Road

Old Portage Road, also known as Old French Road and as French Portage Trail, was a Native American trail and later a road in present-day Chautauqua County, New York, that connected Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake, and thereby the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River systems. Lake Erie is approximately 700 feet above sea level; the continental crest on this portage route between the St. Lawrence and Mississippi drainage basins is approximately 1500 feet above sea level.


  1. The Fort LeBoeuf Museum
  2. Clary, David (2011). George Washington's First War (1st ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. xix. ISBN   978-1-4391-8110-2.
  3. National Park Service
  4. Fort Le Boeuf Historical Marker
  5. "France in America, Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, p. 181
  6. Nos racines, l'histoire vivante des Québécois, Éditions Comémorative, Livre-Loisir Ltée. p457