Site of the first armed struggle between Colonists and the British, prior to the American Revolutionary War.
On March 9th, 1765, the Pennsylvania frontier rose in armed rebellion, under the leadership of James Smith, against a British military government that condoned the shipment of knives, hatchets, guns, and ammunition to the Iroquois Nation across the Alleghenies. Three hundred strong, the frontiersmen laid seige to Fort Loudoun (built in 1756 during the French and Indian War) and its garrison of kilted veterans of the Black Watch Regiment, who a few months earlier, had stormed Morro Castle at Havanna.
In the preceeding two years, The Cumberland Valley had experienced the horrors of the Native American war parties. It had seen its homes go up in flames, its children's bodies blugeoned against cabin walls, its women stolen. The Pontiac Conspiracy has swept the Pennsylvania frontier back from the Allegheny River almost to central Pennsylvania and Harrisburg.
Now, the settlers of the Valley were convinced that the British military government was allowing "favored" traders to ship arms and ammunition to the Iroquois under false trading permits. The "Countrymen", that is to say, the back country farmers, tried to stop the traffic by appeal, protest, and petition. But, appeal and protest got them nowhere. Outraged and desperate, they took up arms to stop the munition trading. They risked the hangman's noose as rebels, not only to protect their homes and lives, but also to defend a principle of decency and justice.
The first combat between British troops and American Colonials in armed rebellion did not take place in Massachusetts in 1775. It did not take place in North Carolina in 1771. The first American blood was not spilled on the village green at Lexington, nor at the Alamance in North Carolina. The first armed collision between Americans and the British regulars took place in Pennsylvania in 1765, ten years before Lexington and Concord and six years before the Battle of Alamance.
The first American rebel to take a British soldier's bullet was a Pennsylvanian. His name was James Brown. His blood stained the spring grass of a meadow near the north end of a region called "The Pastures" on the West Branch of the Conococheague Creek near Fort Loudoun, in the Cumberland Valley. The date was May 6th, 1765, two months after the beginning of the Rebellion in Pennsylvania. The first bloodshed of American armed resistance to tyranny had ended in a small, decisive victory when a platoon of the Black Watch Regiment surrendered after being surrounded at a cabin outside the wooden stockade at Fort Loudoun.
For six more months, James Smith's little army of farmers and backwoodsmen beseiged the log stockade at Fort Loudoun. On November 10th, 1765, the British flag was lowered. The British garrison marched out. The first British fort ever taken by Americans was occupied by Pennsylvania farmers. You won't find this Pennsylvania rebellion in the history books. Instead, they will tell you that Ethan Allen was the first American to take a British fort when he stormed Ticonderoga on May 10th, 1775. Ethan Allen was not the first. James Smith and his "Black Boys" at Fort Loudoun were the first. James Smith was not only the leader of the Pennsylvania Rebellion, he was a Colonel of the Pennsylvania Militia during the Amerian Revolution, and honored in the annals of the War of 1812.
In 1939, RKO Pictures produced a film, "Allegeny Uprising", starring John Wayne in the role of James Smith, as leader of the Black Boy Uprising, during this tumultuous time of the French and Indian War, prior to the American Revolution.
The Original site of Fort Loudoun was rebuilt in 2004 after an archeological dig by the State of Pennsylvania discovered the long abandoned site.
"Click on links" below to see the reconstructed Fort & 1904
Carbon Print Photographs that I discovered during research.