History of Forbes Road
Forbes Road (1758) - A military road established in 1758 under the Direction of British Brigadier General John Forbes during the French & Indian War. The road connected Carlisle Barracks in central Pennsylvania with Forbes military objective, the French Fort Duquesne, in present day Pittsburgh. Fort Duquesne was very important because it was located at the strategic junction of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River where they become the Ohio River.
British Major General Edward Braddock had previously attempted to capture Fort Duquesne by cutting a road from Virginia. Braddock was defeated by the French 10 miles east of Fort Duquesne with heavy losses and Braddock himself was mortally wounded and died four days after the battle.
The new Forbes Road followed some existing trading routes known as the Raystown Path, or Old Trading Path, widened to accommodate wagons. He did not use any of the road Braddock had cut. At strategic points Forbes placed Forts to protect the supply lines and hold stores of equipment and men.
The primary obstacle along the road was the Appalachian Mountain range which formed a series of steep ridges in the path of the road. The British engineers completed the road in November 1758 and General Forbes marshaled troops and supplies at his base of operations at Fort Ligonier for the attack on Fort Duquesne. The French tested the defenses along the road and at Fort Ligonier and found them too strong for their forces. They then decided to abandon Fort Duquesne and they burned it to the ground. Forbes entered Fort Duquesne on 25 Nov 1758 and found a smoldering ruin.
Over the next several years the British built a larger Fort Pitt over the site of Fort Duquesne. The road built by Forbes provided an important route that helped to open up western Pennsylvania to settlement.