Fort Valley Legend

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by bigskymanj, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. bigskymanj

    bigskymanj New Member

    Am looking for documentation that Gens. Washington and Daniel Morgan secretly planned to use Fort Valley, Va., for a last stand if cornered by the British Army. Legend is part of local folklore and a rough dirt road up the east side at north end is called "Morgan's Road." Earliest mention is in Kercheval's "History of the Valley" published in 1830s, with Kercheval citing "an old revolutionary soldier" as his source. Unfortunately he didn't name source, legend has never been proven and many military historians doubt GW & DM would have wanted to bottle up themselves in a valley difficult to get in and out of, when they would have had the entire western frontier to roam in. Fast-moving Tory cavalry would have been a problem. Note Zane's Marlboro Iron Plantation which made cannon for GW's army was nearby and a smart British commander would have had little trouble marching up the Great Western Road from Winchester and capturing that first. A little ragtag army would be hard-pressed to hold the long ridgetops against a determined enemy probing flanks. Closest I've found to any documentation is in Wm. Gordon's History of the Revolution. Gordon cites a conversation between GW and aide Reed, at Newark HQ, in Nov. 1776 when British army was hard-pressing them across NJ, about possibly retreating west of Susquehanna River in Pa., west of Alleghenies or into Augusta Co., Va., which then was huge, to wage partisan warfare. Gordon didn't cite source, but he was touring the war by stagecoach and visited GW's Newark HQ as a guest about this time, and may have heard the conversation himself. But note that both men knew this region intimately, GW from surveying days and DM from growing up there, and they may have had other ideas in mind for such a hold-out or hide-out place. Legend says it happened before American victories at Trenton and Princeton in Dec. 1776. Morgan was at home in Winchester, on leave and parole in fall 1776, recuperating from the Quebec invasion; he also held a secret promotion to colonel and had secret orders from GW to raise a new rifle regiment. Another possibility would have been in spring 1781, when DM was leading defense preparations along the Blue Ridge east of Winchester, in case Tarleton's roaming cavalry raids got that far. Fort Valley, nestled in north end of Massanutten Mountains splitting the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, also is known as Powell's Fort. Few people lived there except for hermits and outlaws, until after the Revolution.
  2. The General

    The General New Member

    Fascinating, Big Sky. I've never heard this before, and am intrigued by it. Please let us know if you manage to turn anything up.

    And welcome abaord.

  3. historypiper

    historypiper New Member

    Pure speculation on my part but if I had to guess I'd say the source was probably one of Morgan's Riflemen AFTER one of the annual reunions at Cork Street Tavern (can't believe I'm drawing a blank on what it was known as at the time, wait a minute, was it the Red Lion?). I agree Fort Valley would have been known to Washington and Morgan both but also agree I wouldn't necessarily want to have much more than a couple companies in there.

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