History

The Lead Mine Fort

 

Fort Roberdeau

History

 

The War for Independence a war of principal as well as finance. The stance of those supporting the Continental Army (the "Patriots") was that they had worked the colonies for generations. Citizens of the Colonies were considered British yet did not have the rights of their peers in England. They felt that with the economic benefits and vital resources they brought to England, that they should also have the rights and respect that came along with being English according to the English Constitution. The British did not see it that way. They had spent generations financing colonies here, establishing territories and protecting them. The French and Indian war had almost  bankrupted England and the government expected the colonies to help pay for their own protection. Taxes in the colonies  were less than those paid by citizens in England.

 

The industries of rural Pennsylvania gave vital raw materials to the British Empire, these same resources could be used by the Continental Army. The British knew that if they disrupted supplies intended for the Continental Army that they could drain the army and eventually win the war. To do this they used their colonial citizens who had decided to remain loyal to their government, also known as Loyalists and Tories. They also used their alliance with the Iroquois Nations.

 

Native Americans had for many years had to choose sides in European conflicts that bled over to the colonies. Their leaders were like any men of the time, men of principal. They had aptly maneuvered European Politics throughout the 18th century. The Native American Nations continually struggled, and found new ways to survive despite the world powers that slowly and callously drained their way of life from them.

 

Leading up to the Revolution Western Pennsylvania was a borderlands and hunting grounds for the Iroquois Confederacy. To the south their were the Cherokee and Creeks, who took the side of the British . To the North were the homelands of the Iroquois Nation a very powerful alliance of 6 Nations . During the War for Independence, the Mohawk (Kanienkehaka) Chief known as Joseph Brandt (Thayendanegea) convinced 4 of the 6 nations to take the side of the English. For the first time ever the Iroquois Nations were split and fought against themselves. The 4 Nations played a vital role for the British in the war in Western NY and Western PA. Their leaders planned strategic Tory and Native raids throughout the region. Washington, having fought along side the Iroquois in the French and Indian War, knew the power of a Native alliance. He wanted to weaken them as much as possible. He showed no mercy to the Native American Nations who had sided with the British, ordering the Army in any region the natives were in to not only engage the warriors in battle but to invade their ancestral homelands and burn all villages and crops.

 

Families in Western Pennsylvania were oftentimes split in allegiance. Many did not care one way or the other about the war, as long as their way of life continued. Others actively participated in the war. Many men who had settled in the area had joined early in the war. Some of these men had returned and had joined the militias in the area.  However with the Tory unrest in the early spring of 1778 many locals had decided to leave the region. As General Roberdeau came to the region he saw this occurring and knew he had to do something. In order for his endeavor to be a success, not only would he need miners, but he would need tradesmen and resources to support the miners and the units required to support the mines.  He understood that the only way for the new nation to be a success, there would need to be resources coming from farms and woodlands like those in the area. Fort Roberdeau was constructed to protect the economic resources of it's region. The fort was built not only to support a lead mine, and to protect the people who worked the mine. It was also built to lend a sense of safety to the area. The construction of the fort helped strengthen the local militia. It also gave the region Continental troops with the official recognition of Clugages Rangers. The troops commanded from the fort helped in protecting the farmers and other local citizens from Bedford all the way to Bellfonte during a very trying time.

 

 

Everyday Life in Colonial Times

Throughout the Revolution the Continental Army was suffering from shortages of many necessary things. Because of our forced dependence on England the entire process of supplying the nation had to be built from the ground up. We often simplify how this was done by telling stories of self production and sufficiency in every home. Although every home participated and gave to the cause it was done in much more complex and interesting ways that we are often taught in school and at sites. Our supply chain had to be established from the ground up.