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Lecture will shed light on forts during the French and Indian W

November 06, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The Jonathan Hager House and Museum in Hagerstown will host a free lecture about private forts built by settlers in the Mid-Atlantic area during the French and Indian War - a time when even the bravest of frontiersmen feared for their lives, Hager House Curator John Nelson says.

The "Blockhouses, Stockades and Loopholes" lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, on the second floor of the Hager House at 110 Key St. in City Park. Nelson and colleague John Bryan will give the lecture.

"The discussion will focus on why there was a need for forts, how these houses were fortified, how many were actually attacked by Native Americans, and accounts of massacres," says Nelson, author of 13 historical books.

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The lecture will start with an examination of how the long-standing struggle between the British and the French to control the European fur trade in America finally erupted into the French and Indian War in 1756, Nelson says. He will then provide accounts of the Great Cove Massacre of 1755, during which 100 Delaware Indians aligned with the French killed or kidnapped 47 settlers in what is now Ayre Township in Fulton County, Pa.

"The accounts are really graphic," says Nelson, who credits the massacre as a catalyst for the move to fortify private residences in the surrounding area.

At a time when fuzzy borders hampered settlers' efforts to secure protection from colonial governors, settlers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Delaware tried to protect themselves. They surrounded their land with stockade fences, and built two-story blockhouses at property corners and V-shaped windows called loopholes so they could keep watch over their property - and shoot to defend it - without putting themselves in greater danger, Nelson says.

There were more than 300 forts in the Mid-Atlantic region, including fortified mills, trading posts and churches. About 10 forts remain standing today, Nelson says.

For more information about the lecture, call 301-739-8393.

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