In 1754 Fort Necessity in western Pennsylvania hosted the opening battle of the French and Indian War. At the conclusion of the July 3 battle, British Colonel George Washington surrendered his forces to the French and Indians and was allowed to peacefully withdraw his troops. Later, in 1770, George Washington purchased the site on which he commanded his first battle.
Archaeological Fun Fact: Fort Necessity was a simple fortified camp and was not a typical military fort. For years, the shape of the fort, thought to be either a diamond or a triangle, was debated until a small archaeological excavation was undertaken in 1931; the fort was declared to be a diamond and was reconstructed as such. More thorough archaeological investigation was conducted in 1952 and 1953 and archaeologists were surprised to discover, as they revealed the true size, shape, and location of the fort, that it was neither a triangle nor a diamond, but a circle. Subsequently, a more accurate reconstruction was erected at the site.
Park Website: www.nps.gov/fone/
At the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, Harpers Ferry is most famous for an October 1859 raid led by militant abolitionist John Brown. Brown hoped that news of his capture of the Harpers Ferry federal arsenal would lead to a mass slave uprising and that he could arm revolting slaves with the weapons he captured; instead, the raid was swiftly brought to an end after 36 hours by U.S. Colonel Robert E. Lee. The armory buildings were burned in 1861 in order to prevent capture by Confederate troops, and the war-weary town of Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times during the Civil War.
Archaeological Fun Fact: The first archaeological study at Harpers Ferry was conducted in 1959 at the site of the U.S. arsenal. Excavations at Harpers Ferry have answered a broad range of research questions, establishing that the area was inhabited by Native Americans seasonally for several centuries before European contact and providing information about the daily lives of those that witnessed the development and industrialization of the town. The park collection contains over 1.2 million artifacts!
* The Archeology Program at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park offers a 10-12 week summer internship program for students.
Park website: www.nps.gov/hafe/