Fort Pitt Timeline

The strategic location of the Fort Pitt Museum – at the Forks of the Ohio River – has shaped the course of American and world history, playing a pivotal role during the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, and as the birthplace of Pittsburgh. Fort Pitt helped to open the frontier to settlement, as Pittsburgh became the “Gateway to the West.”

February 1754 – British army Captain William Trent arrives at the Point and establishes Fort Prince George (more commonly known as “Trent’s Fort”), the first fort built at the Point.

July 1755 – British army General Edward Braddock is sent to capture Fort Duquesne, but is defeated at the Battle of the Monongahela. Braddock’s defeat was a major setback for the British in the early stages of the French & Indian War.

George Washington on horseback
"George Washington as a Captain in the French and Indian War" by Junius Brutus Stearns

November 1758 – The British build Fort Mercer, a temporary fort designed to defend the Forks of the Ohio until a larger structure could be built.

June 1763 – During Pontiac’s Rebellion, an effort to drive the settlers out of the region, American Indians attack Fort Pitt, but find it too well-fortified to be overtaken. After two months, the siege was finally broken with Colonel Henry Bouquet’s victory at the Battle of Bushy Run.

1764 – A modest brick building, known as the Fort Pitt Block House, is erected hear Fort Pitt. The Block House, the oldest authenticated structure in Western Pennsylvania, is now operated by the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Siege of Pittsburgh by Nat Youngblood
Siege of Pittsburgh by Nat Youngblood

April 1754 – French troops travel down the Allegheny River and demand that the British surrender control of the Point. The French destroy Trent’s Fort and immediately begin construction of Fort Duquesne.

September 1758 – The French and their American Indian allies defeat an attacking British regiment, led by Major James Grant at the Battle of Fort Duquesne.

November 1758 – Knowing they are outnumbered, the French set fire to Fort Duquesne before General Forbes and the British army capture the site. General Forbes and a young George Washington stand over the smoldering ruins of Fort Duquesne and name the site “Pittsburgh,” in honor of William Pitt.

November 1759 – The British army begins constructing the most state-of-the-art fort in North America, naming it Fort Pitt. The new fort is built next to the site of Fort Mercer.

End of Siege by Nat Youngblood
End of Siege by Nat Youngblood

1772 – The British army abandons Fort Pitt, letting it fall to private ownership.

1774 – As the colonies approach the Revolutionary War, British governor Lord Dunmore decides to reassert Virginia’s claim to the Forks of the Ohio, taking over the privately-owned Fort Pitt and naming it Fort Dunmore.

1777 – During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army uses Fort Pitt as its western headquarters, housing troops and supplies to defend the new United States.

September 1778 – The first Peace Treaty between the American Indians and the United States is signed at Fort Pitt.

1792 – Fort Pitt is abandoned due to its deteriorating condition, and Fort Fayette is built in downtown Pittsburgh where Penn Avenue and Ninth Street now intersect. Dozens of Pittsburghers used remnants of Fort Pitt to construct their own homes.