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Great Meadows

Great Meadows is the site of the first engagement of the French and Indian War. George Washington was the English commander. The Great Meadows are located about 18 miles east of present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. After the 22-year-old Washington had returned from his mission to the French Fort LeBoeuf early in 1754, he was given a commission as lieutenant-colonel and made second in command of an expedition sent by Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia to erect a fort at the Forks of the Ohio (site of present-day Pittsburgh). When Washington reached Wills Creek (the site of present Cumberland, Maryland), he learned that the French had already seized the strategic location and had begun the construction of Fort Duquesne. He determined to proceed to his destination anyway and to blaze a trail for the larger force to follow under Col. Joshua Fry. At the Great Meadows, Washington's band of about 150 men surprised a small French detachment, killing 10 including the commander Jumonville and taking 21 prisoners. This engagement, fought May 28, 1754, was the opening of the final struggle for the control of North America. Washington constructed what he called Fort Necessity at the Great Meadows. In June, the rest of the expedition arrived. With the death of Colonel Fry, Washington was elevated to the command. On July 3, Fort Necessity was attacked by about 900 French and Indians. After about nine hour, Washington's ammunition was exhausted and he was forced to surrender. By the terms of the surrender, Washington promised that Virginia would not build another fort on the Ohio for a year.