History of Jumonville
From Battleground to Training Ground… The Jumonville Story
Jumonville has an extremely rich history based around four “nations” who controlled the site. Each “government” is represented by the following the Under Four Flags links below.
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You can order Fred Anderson’s book “Washington Remembers.” including Washington’s reflections on the F&I War on the website of the Braddock Road Preservation Association on the link found above. You can own a leather bound, autographed or hardcover copy of this richly illustrated volume by following the links to the “Sutler’s Shop.”
The Four Flags
Think back in time to 1754 – more than 20 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. At this time the future United States was divided into areas claimed by France, Great Britain & Spain – and caught in the middle were the native Americans, or “Indians.” The place we now call Jumonville, located in the Ohio Valley, was claimed by both Great Britain and France.
On the morning of May 28, 1754, Major George Washington and 40 of his men, joined Seneca Chief Tanacharison (“the Half King”) and several Indians to attack a small French force camped at Jumonville Glen. France and England were not at war, but Half King urged the attack, arguing that the French force planned to ambush Washington. The French commanded by Ensign Coulon de Jumonville, were caught by surprise, and after a 15 minute skirmish, surrendered. Jumonville and nine of his men were killed, and twenty-one captured. One French solidier escaped and was able to report what had happend at Fort Duquesne. In retaliation, a French force led by Jumonville’s half-brother pursued and defeated Washington’s army at Fort Necessity on July 3, 1754. Washington and his men were permitted to return to Virginia, but only after he had signed a surrender document admitting to the “assassination” of Jumonville.
The skirmish at Jumonville has been the subject of controversy among historians ever since. The French maintained that Jumonville’s column was on a diplomatic mission, and pointed to Washington’s admission that he had murdered Jumonville. The English claimed that the French party was on a military patrol, and questioned why, if it was on a diplomatic mission, it was hiding in the Glen? Whatever the truth of the matter, the events here led to the Seven Years war in Europe. As one British stateman wrote, “A volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire.”
In the Spring of 1755, Major General Edward Braddock led a column of 2,200 British soldiers and militia through the wilderness of Maryland and Pennsylvania, building a road as it marched. On July 9th, just a few miles short of their objective, Fort Duquesne, Braddock’s column collided with an advancing French force, and after several hours, was routed. Young George Washington was at Braddock’s side when the general was mortally wounded, and helped organize the retreat to the camp of Colonel Thomas Dunbar (Kingwood Area — Jumonville), where they arrived on July 11th. Here Braddock ordered the destruction of tons of supplies and ammunition, including 150 wagons, just before he died on the evening of July 13th. The following day, near Orchard Camp, Washington conducted a short funeral service, and the general was buried in the middle of the road to prevent Indians from finding his body. Visitors to Jumonville can learn more of Braddock and Dunbar’s Camp by visiting the Rindfuss Museum in Ann Murphy Lodge, where a large collection of artifacts from the Don Hinks collection are on display.
Over 100 years later, on the 8th day of April 1875, the Uniontown Soldier’s Orphan School was transferred from the old Madison College site in Uniontown to Dunbar’s Camp, Jumonville. It was claimed, “There is no finer location for a school in all of Pennsylvania; and it is hoped when the school shall have finished its noble work, (June 10, 1908) an educational institution may still be continued in this charming spot.” The State sponsored the military school for children whose parents were killed or disabled in the Civil War and could not support or afford to educate them. (Artifacts of the school are also in the Jumonville museum in Ann Murphy.) The school house (now Captain Webb Hall) was probably built in 1875 and the chapel in 1882. The first school superintendent was Reverend Asa H. Waters from 1866-1890. He was succeeded by his son Reverend John A. Waters from 1890-1908.
Jumonville consisted of 179 acres as of June 21, 1941. It was a gift by Harry Whyel, a Uniontown Methodist layman and a former trustee of the Soldier’s Orphan School. Additional acreage was secured by the Jumonville Board that today totals approximately 280 acres. The first programs were scheduled during the summer of 1942. The amphitheater at Green Cathedral was completed in 1946. The Cross of Christ, located on Dunbar’s Knob of Chestnut Ridge, was built in 1950 and Wesley Hall was built in 1955.