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The Siege of Fort Randolph

May 15 & 16, 2010

Photos by Jim & Kathy Cummings

The fort at the confluence f the Ohio and the Kanawha Rivers played a pivotal role in early American History. It was first built on the site of the present town of Point Pleasant, Mason County in 1774. The battle of Point Pleasant was fought here and the first small stockade was used as protection around the one hundred and forty wounded Virginians carried within the camp from the battlefield.


So frail was the little stockade that had been erected for the protection of the wounded, that it was regarded as nothing, and now work began on a place of defense. The structure thus erected was a small palisaded rectangle, about eighty yards long, with block-houses at two of its corners and cabins for barracks within. To it Captain Russell gave the name of "FORT BLAIR", presumably in honor of John Blair, one of the most prominent men ever in the colony, and who had died but two years before. It stood on the apex of the upper angle formed by the confluence of the Great Kanawha and Ohio.

About the first of January, 1775, Cornstalk, the Shawnee chieftain, arrived at Fort Blair with a number of white persons delivered up in compliance with the terms of the treaty of Camp Charlotte. June 5th ensuing, Lord Dunmore reported to the House of Burgesses that he had continued one hundred men (those under Captain Russell) in service at the temporary fort - Fort Blair - at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, after the campaign of 1774, but that these had been discharged and the fort evacuated. Captain Russell did evacuate the fort in June of this year - 1775. On the 25th of July ensuing, the Virginia Convention ordered that one hundred men should, "with all convenient speed, be stationed at Point Pleasant". But what had been the fate of Fort Blair? Had it been burned by the white men at the time of evacuation? Or, had the Indians laid it in ashes thereafter? None know.

On the 16th of May, 1776, Colonel George Morgan, Commandant at Pittsburg, wrote Lewis Morris, saying: "Captain Mathew Arbuckle, with a company of Virginia forces, left here yesterday for the mouth of the Great Kanawha where they are to rebuild the fort and remain there until further orders from the Convention". The fort erected by Captain Arbuckle was a large stockade with block-houses and cabins, erected on the site of Fort Blair.


It received the name of Fort Randolph in honor of Peyton Randolph, a member of the Continental Congress, who had died the year before. 

Captain Arbuckle continued in command throughout the year 1777 and was, therefore, there when the barbarous murder of Cornstalk, the Shawnee chief, occurred. He risked his. life to prevent it, but without avail. At the close of the year he withdrew with his company, and was succeeded in command at Fort Randolph by Captain William McKee of Rockbridge County, with a body of State troops at "Continental Expense."

under attack

For some unknown cause, Fort Randolph was evacuated in 1779. Colonel William Crawford, stationed at Pittsburg, wrote General Washington under date of July 12, 1779, and said: - "As soon as Fort Randolph was evacuated, the Indians burnt it". .

Early in the year 1778, Indians appeared before the fort and Lieutenant Moore was sent out with a detachment to drive them off. The result was an ambuscade in which he and several of those with him lost their lives. In May ensuing, a large body of Indians laid siege to the fort and it was under fire for a week. Then the siege was raised, the Indians driving away all the cattle from about the fort.

Siege of Fort Randolph

Captain Andrew Lewis, a son of General Andrew Lewis, visited Point Pleasant in 1784 and he said: "There was then but little or no sign of the fort to be seen". Very soon after this, however, probably in 1785, another fort was erected at Point Pleasant for protection of the inhabitants during the later Indian Wars. It was on the Ohio River bank, fifty rods above where its predecessors, Fort Blair and Fort Randolph, had stood.

A more detailed look at this history


The Many Faces of The Siege
of Fort Randolph

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The 2010 Battle Re-Enactment
The Siege of Fort Randolph

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Taken captive at the Siege of Fort Randolph

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Spotlight on a Re-Enactor
at The Siege of Fort Randolph

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A Closer Look at Fort Randolph

It was just a little over a year ago that arsonists wreaked havoc at the Tavern inside Fort Randolph. At the time volunteers and staff hurriedly made quick repairs to even get the fort open for this annual May re-enactment. But in the year since that incident not only was the final work done on the roof but there were a host of additional changes made to the fort. So join us for a look inside the buildings and around the fort.

 This replica fort was constructed in honor of the American Revolution Bicentennial. Groundbreaking was on October 13,1973 and dedication was on October 13,1974. The fort is located at Krodel Park and is a part of the City Park system of Point Pleasant, WV.

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