Battle of Fort Duquesne

The Battle of Fort Duquesne was a British assault on the eponymous French fort (later the site of Pittsburgh) that was repulsed with heavy losses on 14 September 1758, during the French and Indian War.

The attack on Fort Duquesne was part of a large-scale British expedition with 6,000 troops led by General John Forbes to drive the French out of the contested Ohio Country (the upper Ohio River Valley) and clear the way for an invasion of Canada. Forbes ordered Major James Grant of the 1st Highland Regiment to reconnoiter the area with 850 men. When Grant proceeded to attack the French position, his force was out maneuvered, surrounded, and largely destroyed by the French and their native allies led by François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery. Major Grant was taken prisoner and the British survivors retreated fitfully to Fort Ligonier.

After repulsing this advance party the French, deserted by some of their native allies and vastly outnumbered by the approaching Forbes, blew up their magazines and burnt Fort Duquesne. In November the French withdrew from the Ohio Valley and British colonists erected Fort Pitt on the site.

Forbes commanded between 5,000 and 7,000 men, including a contingent of Virginians led by George Washington. Forbes, very ill, did not keep up with the advance of his army, but entrusted it to his second in command, Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet, a Swiss officer commanding a battalion of the Royal American Regiment. Bouquet sanctioned a reconnaissance of Fort Duquesne by Major James Grant of Ballindalloch,

Battle of Fort Duquesne
Part of the French and Indian War

This engraving by Alfred R. Waud depicts the British occupation of the remains of Fort Duquesne on November 25.
Date14 September 1758
Fort Duquesne, site of present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Coordinates: 40°26′29.86″N 80°00′39.40″W / 40.4416278°N 80.0109444°W
Result French victory



 Great Britain

Commanders and leaders
François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery James Grant  (POW)
500 natives and militia 400 regulars
350 militia
Casualties and losses
8 killed;
8 wounded[1]
104 killed;[2]
220 wounded;[2]
18 captured

Fort Duquesne

On September 11, 1758, Grant led over 800 men to scout the environs of Fort Duquesne ahead of Forbes' main column.[3] Bouquet believed the fort to be held by 500 French and 300 Indians, a force too strong to be attacked by Grant's detachment. Grant, who arrived in the vicinity of the fort on September 13, believed there were only 200 enemy within, and sent a small party of 50 men forward to scout.[4] These saw no enemy outside the fort; they burned a storehouse and returned to Grant's main position, two miles (3 km) from the fort.[5]

The next morning, Grant divided his force into several parts. A company of the 77th, under a Capt. McDonald, approached the fort with drums beating and pipes playing as a decoy. A force of 400 men lay in wait to ambush the enemy when they went out to attack McDonald, and several hundred more under the Virginian Maj. Andrew Lewis were concealed near the force's baggage train in the hope of surprising an enemy attack there ...

The French and Indian force was in fact much larger than anticipated, and moved swiftly. They overwhelmed McDonald's decoy force and overran the party that had been meant to ambush them. Lewis's force left its ambush positions and went to the aid of the rest of the force but the French and Indians had by then gained a point of high ground above them and forced them to retire. The Indians used the forest to their advantage; "concealed by a thick foliage, their heavy and destructive fire could not be returned with any effect".[6] In the one-sided battle in the woods, the British and American force suffered 342 casualties, of whom 232 were from the 77th Regiment, including Grant, who was taken prisoner.[7] Out of the eight officers in Andrew Lewis's Virginian contingent, 5 were killed, 1 was wounded and Lewis himself was captured.[8] Nevertheless, most of Grant's force escaped to rejoin the main army under Forbes and Bouquet. The Franco-Indian force suffered only 8 killed and 8 wounded.

James Smith wrote "Notwithstanding their (the Indians') vigilence, colonel Grant with his Highlanders stole a march upon them, and in the night took possession of a hill about eighty rod from Fort DuQuesne -—this hill is on that account called Grant's hill to this day. French and Indians knew not that Grant and his men were there until they beat the drum and played upon the bag-pipes, just at day-light. They then flew to arms, and the Indians ran up under covert of the banks of Allegheny and Monongahela, for some distance, and then sallied out from the banks of the rivers, and took possession of the hill above Grant; and as he was on the point of it in sight of the fort, they immediately surrounded him, and as he had his Highlanders in ranks, and very close order, and the Indians scattered, and concealed behind trees, they defeated him with the loss only of a few warriors -—most of the Highlanders were killed or taken prisoners."[9]

A plaque on the Allegheny County Courthouse, erected in 1901 commemorates the site of the battle, and the hill where the battle was fought is today called Grant Street, in Pittsburgh.[1]

French retreat

Though the French had beaten off the initial British attack, Lignery understood that his force of about 600 could not hold Fort Duquesne against the main British force of more than ten times that number. The French continued to occupy Fort Duquesne until November 26, when the garrison set fire to the fort and left under the cover of darkness. As the British marched up to the smoldering remains, they were confronted with an appalling sight. The Indians had decapitated many of the dead Highlanders and impaled their heads on the sharp stakes on top of the fort walls, with their kilts displayed below. The British and Americans rebuilt Fort Duquesne, naming it Fort Pitt after the British prime minister William Pitt, who had ordered the capture of that strategic location.


  1. ^ a b Steele, p. 214
  2. ^ a b Stewart, Volume II, p. 17
  3. ^ Fleming, p. 391
  4. ^ Fleming, pp. 391-392
  5. ^ Fleming, p. 392
  6. ^ Stewart, Volume I, pp. 312-313
  7. ^ Stewart, Volume I, Page 313
  8. ^ Dolack, Founder’s Son Leads Area Through Wars with French and British
  9. ^ Smith, James (1799). An account of the remarkable occurrences in the life and travels of Colonel James Smith. p. 102.


  • Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (2000) pp 267–285
  • Chartrand, Rene. Tomahawk and Musket; French and Indian Raids in the Ohio Valley 1758. (2012) Osprey Publishing. Osprey Raid Series #27. ISBN 978-1-84908-564-9
  • Dolack, Bill (2008). "Founder's Son Leads Area Through Wars with French and British". Christian History Society of America. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
  • Fleming, George Thornton (1922). History of Pittsburgh and Environs: From Prehistoric Days to the Beginning of the American Revolution, Volume 1. New York and Chicago: The American Historical Society. OCLC 18045743. This includes letters from both Grant and Washington discussing the action.
  • McConnell, Michael N. A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774 (1992).
  • Steele, Ian K. (1994). Warpaths: Invasions of North America. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195082230.
  • Stewart, David, Sketches of the Character, Manners and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland, 2 volumes, John Donald Publishers Ltd., Edinburgh, 1977 (originally published in 1822)
  • White, Richard. Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (1991)

Primary sources

  • The Papers of Henry Bouquet : Volume II The Forbes Expedition ed. by Donald Kent et al. (1951)
  • Writings of General John Cabot Forbes Relating to his Service in North America (1938)
  • The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, volume 5 October 1757-September 1758 ed by W. W. Abbott et al. (1988)


was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar, the 1758th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 758th year of the 2nd millennium, the 58th year of the 18th century, and the 9th year of the 1750s decade. As of the start of 1758, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1758 in Canada

Events from the year 1758 in Canada.

1758 in Great Britain

Events from the year 1758 in Great Britain.

Forbes Expedition

The Forbes Expedition was a British military expedition led by Brigadier-General John Forbes in 1758, during the latter stages of

the French and Indian War.

Forbes Road

The Forbes Road was a historic military roadway in what was then British America, that was constructed in 1758 from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to the French Fort Duquesne at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in what is now downtown Pittsburgh, via Fort Littleton, Fort Bedford and Fort Ligonier. The road, 300 miles long, was named for Brigadier General John Forbes, the commander of the 1758 British expedition that built the road during the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania. The Forbes Road and Braddock's Road were the two main land routes that the British cut west through the Appalachian wilderness during the war, despite the need to travel over and past a succession of steep north-south ridges that interfered with east-west travel.

Fort Duquesne

Fort Duquesne (, French: [dyken]; originally called Fort Du Quesne) was a fort established by the French in 1754, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. It was later taken over by the English, and later Americans, and developed as Pittsburgh in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Fort Duquesne was destroyed by the French, prior to English conquest during the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War on the North American front. The latter replaced it, building Fort Pitt in 1758. The site of both forts is now occupied by Point State Park, where the outlines of the two forts have been laid in brick.

Fort Duquesne (disambiguation)

Fort Duquesne was a fort established by the French in what in now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1754 and destroyed in 1758.

Fort Duquesne may also refer to:

Battle of Fort Duquesne (1758), an unsuccessful British assault on the fort in the French and Indian Wars

Fort Duquesne Bridge, spanning the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh

RFA Fort Duquesne (A229), an air stores ship of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary

USS Cowanesque (AO-79), a US Navy fleet oiler of World War II originally launched as the SS Fort Duquesne

Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania)

Fort Pitt was a fort built by British forces between 1759 and 1761 during the French and Indian War at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, where the Ohio River is formed in western Pennsylvania (modern day Pittsburgh). It was near (but not directly on) the site of Fort Duquesne, a French colonial fort built in 1754 as tensions increased between Great Britain and France in both Europe and North America. The French destroyed Fort Duquesne in 1758 when they retreated under British attack.

British colonial protection of this area ultimately led to the development of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania by British-American colonists and immigrants.

François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery

François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery (24 August 1703 – 29 July 1759) was a colonial military leader in the French province of Canada. Active in the defense of New France during the Seven Years' War (also known as the French and Indian War), he died of wounds sustained in the 1759 Battle of La Belle-Famille.

François Coulon de Villiers

François Coulon de Villiers (1712 – 22 May 1794) was a French military officer from an influential military family in the French and Indian War and then an influential officer in the New Spain community of New Orleans.

Griffith Rutherford

Griffith Rutherford (c. 1721 – August 10, 1805) was an officer in the American Revolutionary War, a political leader in North Carolina, and an important figure in the early history of the Southwest Territory and the state of Tennessee.

During the French and Indian War, Rutherford became a captain of a local British colonial militia. He continued serving in the militia until the start of the revolution in 1775, at which time he enlisted in the North Carolina militia as a colonel. He was appointed to the post of brigadier general of the "Salisbury District Brigade" in May 1776, and participated in the initial phases of the Cherokee–American wars against the Cherokee Indians along the frontier. In June 1780, he was partly responsible for the Loyalist defeat in the Battle of Ramsour's Mill. Rutherford was present at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, where he was taken prisoner by the British. After being exchanged in 1781, Rutherford participated in several other campaigns, including further attacks on the Chickamauga faction of the Cherokee.

Originally from Ireland, Rutherford immigrated with his parents to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Colony, at the age of eighteen. In 1753 he moved to Rowan County, in the Province of North Carolina, where he married Elizabeth Graham. An active member of his community, Rutherford served in multiple civil occupations. He was a representative of both houses of the North Carolina House of Commons, as well as an unsuccessful candidate for governor. Rutherford was an advocate of the anti-federalist movement and was appointed President of the Legislative Council of the Southwest Territory in 1794. Rutherford retired to Sumner County, Tennessee, where he died on August 10, 1805, at the age of 84.

Hugh Mercer

Hugh Mercer (16 January 1726 – 12 January 1777) was a Scottish soldier and physician. He initially served with the Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and with the British forces during the Seven Years' War, but later became a brigadier general in the Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington. Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero as well as a rallying symbol of the American Revolution.

James Grant (British Army officer, born 1720)

James Grant, Laird of Ballindalloch (1720–1806) was a British Army officer who served as a major general during the American War of Independence. He served as Governor of East Florida from 1763 to 1771, and between 1773 and 1802 he had seats in the House of Commons.

John Forbes (British Army officer)

John Forbes (5 September 1707 – 11 March 1759) was a British general in the French and Indian War. He is best known for leading the Forbes Expedition that captured the French outpost at Fort Duquesne and for naming the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after British Secretary of State William Pitt the Elder.

List of Canadian military victories

The following are battle victories by Canadians in different wars. According to the below list, Canadian victories are French victories prior to the British Conquest of Quebec (1759). Prior to this conquest, any victories by the British in Nova Scotia (even after the Conquest of Acadia in 1710) and aboriginal victories over the colonial empires are not considered Canadian victories (e.g., see aboriginal victories in Father Le Loutre's War).

List of book-based war films (wars before 1775)

A list of films that are based on war books.

List of conflicts in British America

List of conflicts in the British America is a timeline of events that includes Indian wars, battles, skirmishes massacres and other related items that occurred in Britain's American territory up to 1783 when British America was formally ended by the Treaty of Paris and replaced by British North America and the United States.

Nicolas Antoine Coulon de Villiers

Nicolas Antoine Coulon, chevalier de Villiers was born in 1683, and died in 1733. He was an officer in New France.

Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh

Renaissance & Baroque, formerly known as the Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh is a non-profit performing arts organization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that presents performances of music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical periods with an emphasis on historically informed performance. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, describes it as having "developed one of the area's most faithful and enthusiastic followings." Its main performance venue is Synod Hall, adjacent to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Among the ensembles which have been presented by the society are Apollo's Fire, Trio Medieval, Quadriga Consort and The Academy of Ancient Music.

The society was established in 1969 with Colin Stern as one of its key founders. Stern, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where he taught for 38 years until his retirement in 1986, was an expert on early music performance practice and the founder of the period-instrument ensemble, Ars Antiqua Players. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, both the Ars Antiqua Players and the Renaissance and Baroque Society "helped stimulate interest in pre-Bach music nationwide."


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