Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fort Harmar

Marietta Daily Leader, November 24, 1900

In the autumn of 1785, Colonel Joseph Harmar sent Major John Doughty with a battalion of his (Harmar's) regiment to build and garrison a fort near the junction of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. It was, when completed, the first fort in the State of Ohio, with the exception of Fort Laurens, which was erected in the year 1778 on the right bank of the Tuscarawas, a little below Sandy Creek, by General McIntosh, in the heart of the Indian country, and was evacuated in the autumn of the following year.

The fort stood on what was called the "second bottom," being elevated above the ordinary floods of the Ohio, while between it and the banks of the rivers was a lower, or first, bottom. The outlines of the fort formed a pentagon, and the area embraced within its walls contained about three-quarters of an acre. 

The main walls of the fort were built of large timbers, placed horizontally and raised to the height of twelve or fourteen feet and were 120 feet in length. The bastions were of large timbers set upright in the ground, fourteen feet high, and fastened together by strips of timber. The outlines of these were also [pentagonal], the fifth side, or that opening into the area of the fort, being occupied by the dwelling houses or quarters of the officers.

In the rear of the garrison, on the ground which had supplies the materials for building the fort, were fine gardens, laid out by Major Doughty. These were cultivated by the soldiers who took great pride in them. Peaches were planted out as soon as the ground was cleared and in the second or third year produced crops of fine fruit. A variety of this is still cultivated around Marietta and is known as the "Doughty Peach."

The fort was named in honor of Colonel Josiah Harmar. It was occupied by the troops of the United States until September, 1790, when they were ordered to Fort Washington, now Cincinnati. During the Indian wars, the fort was occupied by one Captain Haskell, their chief duty being to help the settlements of Belpre, Marietta and Waterford against the Indians. The houses formerly used by the soldiers as quarters were occupied by the settlers living on the west side of the Muskingum. 

It does not appear that any regular batteries were built within the walls for mounting of cannon, as it was in no great danger of any attack from the enemies who had the use of cannon. One or two six-pound field pieces were mounted on carriages and usually kept on the bank just without the walls; with these they could command the boats on the river.

Between the walls of the fort and the bank of the Muskingum was sufficient space to muster a battalion of men; a part of this ground was occupied by three stout log cabins erected for the use of the artificers attached to the garrison. At this day not only the whole ground between it and the water is washed away, but also more than half of the site occupied by the fort.

In digging away the bank in 1840 to form a landing or road up from the river on the site of the old fort, several interesting relics were found which once belonged to the inmates of the garrison. Although no attack was ever made upon the fort by the Indians, yet they often appeared on the hill in its rear, which commanded a full view of its interior. From this elevation they often watched the inhabitants as they went out to work in the gardens and fields, and many of these were killed within gunshot of the fort.

No trace of the fort is left, except a small marble monument and a fine school building; this showing that the site on which formerly stood an edifice of war is now occupied by an edifice of learning.

J. O.


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