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Friday, November 16, 2007

The Fort at No. 4

The Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, New Hampshire is a re-creation of the fort which had stood in this area from 1740 to the 1760s. This was the northernmost English settlement along the Connecticut River in a time when New England could have become New France during the French and Indian War.

The settlers here were farming and trading families. They built a square of interconnected houses surrounded by a stockade, and crowned with a guard tower. Subject to a few Indian attacks, settler families abandoned the fort, replaced by militia troops in 1747, whereupon the fort was besieged again by French militia and Abenaki warriors. The seige lasted three days, but the English troops held out and the French and Indians withdrew to Canada. With the defeat of the French in 1761, and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the need for the fort ended.

The fort illustrates for us today the commerce of the period, how important the river was for travel, and how the river opened up New England to settlers who found it difficult to travel otherwise through the dense forrests. Western New England is to a large extent demarcated from the eastern half by the settlement and commerce along the river. Our future industries, tourism, and even our accents derive from our north-south association, in an area of New England where Boston, the grand metropolis of American culture and history, has always seemed as distant as the moon.

Today there are costumed interpreters at The Fort at No. 4, and this replica of the 18th century should be included, along with Sturbridge Village’s 19th century and Plimoth Plantation’s 17th century replicas, as must see sights for New Englanders and travelers to New England, alike.

For more information on The Fort at No. 4, see this website.

Been there? Done that? Climbed the guard tower? Let us know.

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