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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Fort Henry

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Built in the spring of 1774, at site of present-day Wheeling, WV, by Ebenezer Zane and his followers; the construction of the fort being prosecuted by Major Agnus McDonald, who in midsummer of 1774 was joined by Col. William Crawford, with a force of two hundred men, who soon thereafter completed the stockage fort.

Lord Dunmore arrived at the fort September 30 the same year with 1,200 men, 700 of whom came by water down the Monongalhela and Ohio rivers by way of Fort Pitt, with 500 men who marched overland with supplies, planning to united with another group of 1,100 men under the command of Gen. Andrew Lewis, in preparation for an invasion of Indian lands, which resulted in the Battle of Point Pleasant.

Originally named Fort Fincastle, deriving its name from "Fincastle," the country home of Lord Dunmore in England. Because Lord Dunmore was a tory, following the outbreak of the Revolution the name was changed to Fort Henry, in honor of Patrick Henry, who become the first the firt Commonwealth Governor of Virginia in 1776.

The first siege of the fort was in September, 1777. Elizabeth Zane is credited with making a daring dash to obtain gunpowder during the battle, and by doing so was credited with saving the fort, however the last surviving adult eyewitnesses of that siege of Fort Henry claimed otherwise in a 1849 affidavit. In 1903, Zane Grey began his career as America’s greatest Western author via a fictionized account of the herorics of Elizabeth Zane, an ancestor of Grey, via the self-publication of his first book simply entitled Betty Zane.

On September 10, 1782: Fort Henry was again attacked, this time by about 200-250 Wyandot and Delaware Indians and 40 British Rangers under Captain Bradt who laid siege to the fort. This was the last time the British flag was flown during an engagement in the Revolution, and it is said to have been the last battle of that war.