The exact location of Fort Young in Covington has not been determined although the general location has been pinpointed by research. It was located in the general area on the Jackson River where Arlington Court, Covington High School and Sunnymeade overlap. The Fort Young Society raised funds to reconstruct the Fort on land donated to the organization by the City of Covington. The site is on the opposite side of the Jackson River on land once owned by the Fudge Family but near the original location. The Fort was reconstructed with volunteer help. The first load of logs was delivered on July 5, 1977 and construction completed in 1979.
The history of Fort Young should probably be given by Lexington historians, as Dr. George West Diehl and Mrs. Anne Brandon Heiner have done much to preserve its history, as well as others along a 200 mile stretch from Ft. Dinwiddie to Ft. Vaux.
It was in July 1958, that a group from Lexington came to Covington with maps and papers and sought out the site of Fort Young. I gave them some meager information I had at the time, and they visited several officials and groups to enlist interest in duplicating Fort Young.
Included in those visiting here that day were members of the Blue Ridge Committee of the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter of Virginia which had as its project getting the General Assembly to mark the sites of the preRevolutionary forts in Virginia.
Four years later the markers were installed, but not without a great deal of effort on the part of those who initiated the project.
Fort Young had been erected in 1756 on the Peter Wright land, and the site is now covered over at Sunnymeade. (Now the location of Aide's Discount Store)
Fort Young was but one of the feeble chain of forts in what was then Augusta County, erected in 1756, stretching from Fort Dinwiddie above Warm Springs past Roanoke and Martinsville. They were to provide protection to the frontier settlers against the enemy Indians and French, after the resounding defeat of Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock in 1755.
George Washington was 23 when he went as a volunteer aide-de-camp with the massive forces of Gen. Braddock to attack the French and their northern Indian allies at Ft. Duquesne, now the site of Pittsburgh.
The young officer discreetly warned the British general that the manner of fighting of the Indians and French should be copied, but the British officers were so prepossessed in favor of regularity and discipline, and in such contempt were these people held, that the admonition was suggested in vain.
General Braddock was fatally wounded and Washington, after trying to stop the flight of the men from the battlefield, found a small cart and a team of horses and he and Capt. Robert Steward brought Braddock to the rear.
After Braddock's death, Washington directed his shameful but necessary burial under the path of the troops and wagons so the Indians could not locate the body and mistreat it.
The bravery of Washington and the Virginia frontiersmen who were more accustomed to Indian fighting than the British, was highly praised in the press in England and in the colonies in discussion of the dismal defeat.
Colonel Thomas Dunbar, second in command to Gen. Braddock, retreated with the remaining troops to Ft. Cumberland, Md., where he and Gov. Sharpe of that state turned a deaf ear to Gov. Dinwiddie's promise of re-enforcements and his urgent appeal to attack Ft. Duquesne to recover the train of artillery and the honor of the British forces.
The uninjured survivors and such guns and artillery as had been saved from the capture, a total of 1,516 men of all arms, were marched into winter quarters in Philadelphia in August.
Even the Virginia troops had to escort them as far as Winchester, leaving the frontiers further defenseless.
With the Virginia frontier in terror, with enemy Indians each day more violent and bolder in Augusta County, the settlers began packing up and deserting their homes and crops. Gov. Dinwiddie then turned to young George Washington.
There was haggling over terms and powers, but Col. George Washington, at the age of 23, was offered on Aug. 13, 1755, not only command of the Regiment, but the title of Commander of all the forces that now, or may be, employed in the country's service by the Colony of Virginia.
It was not a bed of roses. There were problems with Gov. Dinwiddie, the militia which sometimes vanished when the Indians appeared and an Assembly which preferred defense to attack and was reluctant to furnish the needed regular troops and money he needed.
In July, 1756, Gen. Washington wrote the following to Capt. Peter Hogg:
"As the Association has voted a Chain of Forts to be built on the Frontiers, the government has ordered out the militia to assist you in erecting them as it was determined in a Council of War at Fort Cumberland.
"... and that you should receive directions to build at or about 20 or 30 miles distance, and to have your particular regard to the Body of inhabitants to be defended, and the passes most frequented by the enemy, and that Capt. Hogg begin to build, observing the above consideration to the southward of Fort Dinwiddie, extending the line towards Mayo River as directed by an Act of Assembly.
"You are, while upon this work, to keep out constant covering parties, and above all things, guard against surprise.
"I have sent you herewith a plan of the kind of forts you are to build, which you must follow exactly. "
The fortification sketch he enclosed listed at one side hastily written, but precise directions in Washington's handwriting, giving measurements for each fort, from a 15 by 20 foot captain's apartment to a 60 by 20 foot barracks for soldiers.
The plan included two rooms for flour or beef over which was to be a powder magazine in the end near the prison, and in the other a room to contain the corn. "Number 10 should be the place for the well if you find it practicable to sink for water."
While Washington was inspecting the sites of the proposed forts and the many paltry forts already constructed, a Council of War was held at Fort Cumberland to discuss the forts that should be built.
Upon his return, Washington sent a list of the forts which were proposed or already in existence in the chain demanded by the Assembly, to Governor Dinwiddie with his remarks.
These included Capt. Harris' fort on the Mayo River, 20 men; Galloway's also called Ft. Trail on Smith's River, 20 men; Terry's Fort or Fort Blackwater on the Blackwater River, 20 men; Hogg's Fort or Ft. Vaux on the Roanoke River, 150 men; Fort William on the Catawba Branch of James River, 75 men.
Then there was the largest of all, Dickinson's Fort which finally came to be known as Fort Young on the Jackson River, 18 miles from one proposed but not built on Craig's Creek. Fort Young was designed to garrison 250 men.
Also, Fort Breckenridge, sometimes called Fort Mann, was constructed on the Jackson River, 16 miles from Dickinson's or Fort Young, and was to have 40 men.
Also, Fort Dinwiddie on Jackson River, west of Warm Springs, 14 miles from Breckenridge, was constructed for 100 men as was Christy, also called Capt. Christian's Fort on Jackson River, 14 miles from Dinwiddie, for 40 men.
Another fort between Dinwiddie and Trout Rock on the South Branch of Jackson River, marked but not yet built, was to accommodate 50 men.
Eight others listed lie in what is now West Virginia and finally Winchester with 100 men.
Washington remarked to Gov. Dinwiddie that they were generally fixed upon the heads of creeks and extending toward the Alleghany Mountains with almost inaccessible mountains between them and are placed in the most commodious manner for securing the inhabitants of such waters.
"Some garrisons are larger than others, according as they cover a thick or thin settlement. The fort at Vass's which Captain Hogg is now building, is in a much exposed gap, subject to the inroads of the Southern Indians and in a manner covers the greater part of Bedford and Halifax.
"Dickinson's is situated for the defense of a once numerous and fertile settlement on the Bull, Cow and Calf Pastures, and lies directly in the Shawnees' path to Ohio, and must be a place of rendezvous, if an expedition is conducted against the Ohio Indians below Duquesne."
As for the name of Fort Young, the Haynes Family records state it was named for Robert Young who directed the building of the fort. He was the brother of Janet Young, who married Captain Joseph Haynes in Rockingham County in 1779.
There was never a time that the Alleghany area was not in danger of attack by Indians from the time Fort Young was erected until after the battle of Point Pleasant on Oct. 10, 1774.
Historians have mentioned Fort Young in some of the incidents, particularly Withers in his "Border Warfare." Withers apparently used a great deal of material collected by a Covington man, Hugh Paul Taylor, whose home once stood on the lot now occupied by the Covington Post Office. Taylor wrote many articles about frontier days which were published in a Fincastle paper under his pen name "Son of Cornstalk."
In October 1763 or 1764, a band of Delaware and Mingo warriors came over on New River where they separated and one party went toward the Catawba and Roanoke and the other to Jackson River. Trappers tried to give the alarm, but the Indians reached the settlements before the trappers arrived.
The party which came to Jackson River traveled down Dunlap's Creek and crossed Jackson River above Fort Young in the night and went on down to William Carpenter's (Low Moor) where there was a stockade fort under the care of a Mr. Brown.
The Indians met Carpenter near his home and killed him and made prisoners of Jeremiah Carpenter, a son of the slain man, and two sons of Brown, and one woman. The Indians despoiled the house and taking some horses made a rapid retreat.
Brown carried the alarm to Fort Young, but because of the weakness of the fort at this time, a messenger was sent to Fort Dinwiddie. Captain Paul, with 20 men, went in pursuit, but the Indians had passed through the head of Dunlap Creek and made their escape.
Carpenter's son, later Dr. Jeremiah Carpenter of Nicholas, came home 15 years afterwards. Brown's son, the late Col. Samuel Brown of Greenbrier, was brought home in 1769. The elder Brown boy never returned. He took an Indian wife, became wealthy and lived in Michigan.
In June of 1763 Hannah Dennis, who had been captured two years before in a raid on Looney's Creek and had lived with the Indians in the Chillicothe towns, made her escape. After many harrowing experiences in her flight, she was given assistance at Clendennin's settlement and furnished a horse and escort to bring her to Fort Young.
From this point, she was returned to her relatives. Most of the Clendennins paid for their kindness by being massacred a short time later.
One of the deadliest encounters recorded for the Fort Young garrison was when Captains Moffett and Phillips set out with 60 men to assist the beleaguered Fort Breckenridge in 1763. The little band was ambushed and 15 men were killed. The fort did not fall, but the Shawnees fled eastward along Jackson River and were sighted from Fort Young and a messenger sped to the Cowpasture to give the warning.
The highway markers which Dr. Diehl sought, were finally placed at the unmarked sites of five forts including in this area, Fort Young and Fort Breckenridge.
Published October 29,1970