| One of the early settlers of Hampshire
County in the Colony of Virginia was Joseph Edwards. Sometime around 1727-1742 he came from Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley into the mountains to the west and settled along the Cacapon River. In the late 1740s George Washington came into the area surveying for Lord Fairfax and laid out several parcels for Joseph and his family. Later, during the early years of the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years War), Joseph Edwards's property became the site of one of the many forts guarding the Virginia Frontier from the French and their Indian allies. The fort at Edwards's was manned by Col. George Washington's Virginia Regiment.
The Fort Edwards site is located along the northern boundary of Capon Bridge, in what is now West Virginia just north of U.S. 50. Only 20 miles west of Winchester, Virginia, the fort site is within a two hour ride from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and within three hours from Pittsburgh and Richmond. Situated along the scenic Cacapon River in eastern Hampshire County, it remains surrounded by fields, forests and mountains much as it was in the 1750's when France and England were in their final showdown for possession of the North American continent.
The Battle of Great Cacapon
From this fort on April 18, 1756, a group of soldiers of Col. Washington's Virginia Regiment went in pursuit of a few Indians and some of them stumbled into an ambush of over 100 French and Indian raiders. The ambush killed seventeen men and sent chills through the Burgesses in Williamsburg. This battle near Fort Edwards was the largest of the French and Indian War to have occurred in present West Virginia.
Unlike other fort sites used by the Colony of Virginia during the same period, the Edwards site has remained virtually undisturbed for nearly 250 years. It offers a rare look at a fort site of this period and may also provide a window into the life of a frontier settler.
The Fort Edwards Foundation was formed in November, 1995, when plans for a seventy-unit townhouse development on the site of Joseph Edwards's home and fort reached an impasse, and the land became available for purchase. Recognizing the necessity to protect this important early Hampshire County site, a number of county residents decided to form a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation:
a. to preserve, protect and
interpret this historic site and
b. to educate the public about the importance of this area during the mid-eighteenth century.
The Foundation presently holds title to twenty-three acres around the fort site and has built a Visitor Center for interpreting the site.It has also secured some funding for archaeological work and completed the first phase of a long term archaeolgoical investigation. Further Archaeology was done in 2004. The Foundation has completed a Comprehensive Resource Management Plan for the site that will guide further development.
Visitor Center Location & Features
The Visitor Center opened on June 30, 2001. The current display concerns the Fort and the French and Indian War especially as it pertained to colonial settlers on the western frontier. Our Museum Shop has wonderful little gifts and a vast book supply covering all aspects of the French and Indian War. Click here for the book list. From now on the Visitor Center will be open on weekends from late June through the first weekend in October. Hours: Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 1pm - 5pm. For directions see the roadmap. For a Calendar of Events please click here.
The Fort Edwards Foundation has developed a school program to complement the current exhibit, "The Story of the Fort at Joseph Edwards's." This follows the very successful Archaeology Program developed in conjunction with the archaeology dig done in May 2001. We believe it is important to target our young people and teach them about the hardships that our forebears endured to build our communities. Especially in this time of national stress we share with our young visitors that in spite of the fact that this county suffered almost unimaginable hardships during the terrors of the French and Indian War and the Civil War that followed one hundred years later, our citizens have always responded with bravery and rebuilt their homes and continued with their lives. Their example is one we would do well to emulate. Please check our School Program page for further information and pictures from past class visits.
Future plans for The Foundation include:
Continuing an extensive archaeological investigation of this unique site to further our understanding of early frontier settlement and of the impact of the French and Indian War on the frontier.
Expanding our living history events and programs to further our mission to educate the public about this era and our locality.
Expanding our school programs to introduce school children to the site and to our rich colonial history and to reach out to surrounding counties.
Reconstructing our Bastion Wall and providing other areas at the site to interpret colonial life on the frontier.
Erection of an expanded museum and audio/visual space for the Visitor Center.
Raising funding to provide for a paid Museum Director to help implement new programs and staff our Visitor Center through the upcoming anniversary events.