Fort Pearsall was a French and Indian War fortification located on the farm of Job Pearsall on the banks of the South Branch of the Potomac just west of Romney, Hampshire County. This fort was first mentioned by Col. George Washington, commander of the Virginia Regiment, in October 1755, but it was likely constructed by Job Pearsall a few months earlier. This fort was initially built for local defense and as a place of refuge for neighborhood settlers but was also garrisoned by Virginia Regiment soldiers, rangers, and militiamen from various counties. Although there are no descriptions of this fort, it was likely a log stockade surrounding or near Pearsall’s house, with some improvements made by the Virginia Regiment in 1756 and 1757. Its location on the “old,” or southern, road connecting Fort Loudoun (Washington’s headquarters in Winchester, Virginia), and Fort Cumberland, Maryland, made it very strategic, and soldiers stationed at Fort Pearsall often guarded supply convoys and messengers moving between the other two forts.
Fort Pearsall was also used as a supply depot by the Virginia Regiment. Between 35 and 47 soldiers of Capt. Robert McKenzie’s Virginia Regiment Company garrisoned this fort from August 1756 into late 1757. It was also garrisoned by men from Capt. John Ashby’s ranger company and militiamen from Prince William, Fairfax, Spotsylvania, and Orange counties. There was a small skirmish with Indians at Fort Pearsall in June 1756, and some nearby settlers were killed or captured near there in August 1757. In June 1758, as part of preparations for the Fort Duquesne Campaign, 496 men of the 1st and 2nd Virginia Regiments were encamped at Pearsall. Soon after Fort Duquesne was abandoned by the French in December 1758, the Virginia frontier became much more peaceful, and Fort Pearsall was no longer needed.
Last Revised on April 30, 2013
Ansel, William H. Jr. Frontier Forts Along the Potomac and its Tributaries. Parsons: McClain, 1984.
Abbot, W. W., editor. The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series 2-6. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983-1988.
Cite This Article
McBride, Stephen and Kim McBride "Fort Pearsall." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 April 2013. Web. 30 March 2017.