Winchester, Va. (WHTM) — It’s September 1755, and a surveyor turned soldier, Colonel George Washington of the Virginia Militia, needs a fort. The French and Indian War, part of a wide-ranging international conflict known as the Seven Years War, is now in its second year, and the French and their Native American allies are making things unpleasant along Virginia’s 300-mile border with New France.
Washington directs construction of Fort Loudoun from his military office in a small log building, on the corner of what is now known as West Cork and Braddock Streets. The fort covers half an acre, with walls built of logs and earth, and has 14 cannons. It houses 450 soldiers, for whom a 103-feet deep well is sunk to provide water. Once construction is finished in 1756, Washington moves his office over to the fort.
The French and Indian War ends in 1763 and, over the years, Fort Loudon falls into disrepair. The only thing left today are a few bits of the wall and the well. However, Washington’s office still exists, as the center part of a larger building, and is open to the public.
(Some minutiae-the flag flying at the office is the Red Ensign, the version of the British flag that was used in the American colonies. It would become one of the building blocks of the American flag-but that’s a story for another time.)