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Washington's 12 Mile Camp was established during the creation of Forbes Road in 1758. The campaign to build the road took place during the French and Indian War, as Washington and other Royal forces, were pushing towards the sought-after farmland of the Ohio country. The marker is placed just in front of the present-day Latrobe Airport, however, the camp is reported to have existed a mile north of the marker's present-day location.

Twelve Mile Camp Marker

Sky, Plant, Motor vehicle, Font

State Route 30

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Westmoreland County 1758

Map, Slope, Branch, Organism

Westmoreland County 1758

Map, Black, Font, Slope

The French and Indian War saw a young Colonel George Washington being thrown into action in Westmoreland County in 1758. At this time, the young man, from Virginia, commanded a regiment under Brigadier General John Forbes. It was here, that Washington was making his first impression as a leading figure showing his bravery both in action and legislation. The infamous story involving Washington, as he rode through his lines lifting up the muskets of his soldiers with his saber as they were firing upon friendlies. It was also here that he first ran into trouble. First coming by placing the interests of the state of Virginia above the Crown’s, and second when he had been actively advocating the creation of Braddock’s Road rather than the production of the Forbes’ Road. With the focus being placed on Forbes Road, and the soon capture of Fort Duquesne, the creation of the Twelve Mile Camp was certainly necessary as Washington and his men needed a resting camp in order to fulfill their main mission of driving to the desired farming lands of Ohio, capturing and driving the French from the surrounding forts, and continuing the progress on the road. 

            The present-day camp marker is located just outside of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, along State Route 30, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The marker was placed a mile south of where the actual camp once existed. The camp was set up in 1758 by Colonel Washington and his men as he was on his way toward present-day Pittsburgh and Fort Duquesne. Although it is not historically confirmed, one can speculate that Washington was traveling from nearby Fort Ligonier and was progressing Forbes Road as he was traveling. Washington wouldn’t have spent more than a night or two at the temporary camp, as his mission was to never set up a permanent fort. The marker itself was created in 1946 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which were also accredited with the placement of the marker. One can speculate that the marker was placed along Route 30, as it is a popular and commonly used roadway, rather than where the actual location is due to the lack of traffic. 

            One of Washington’s missions during the war was to oversee and participate in the creation of Forbes Road. The road itself stretched nearly 200 miles from Carlisle to present-day Pittsburgh. The road was named for Brigadier General John Forbes, the commander of the 1758 British Expedition who was accredited the most for its creation. The road was made to cut through Pennsylvania, to the lands of Ohio, rather than follow the path of Braddock’s Road, which came from the Potomac of Virginia. This is where Washington sought the most issue with the idea of this new road. He saw the benefit of Braddock’s Road, as it had cut through Virginia and Pennsylvania and connected them both to the planting grounds of Ohio. He also was very verbal in his belief that the road was both a failure and a waste of time. It is evident that the road sucked up many of the Red Coat’s resources as some of the soldiers themselves were tasked with physically clearing the thick western PA growth in order to clear the path for the road. 

            Two regiments from Virginia, one commanded by Colonel Washington, accompanied the expedition to build the road. Washington represented the wealthy planter class of Virginia, so his knowledge of the worth of the rich planting grounds of the Ohio country was coveted by the Royal Army in the area. Having served in this area for quite some time, the experience that Washington possessed, especially with dealing with the tactics of the French, and their Native American allies, was equally important. Many of the forts in the surrounding area were not as stable as leaders had hoped. Many were small in nature and with resources going toward other aspirations, as the building of major roads, the forts started to become run down. Along with this, the ever-important mission of expelling the French from the surrounding areas was heightened even more. The goal of capturing Fort Duquesne was placed as number one on the to-do list of Brigadier General Forbes as the capture of this fort would certainly seal the forever path to the Ohio country. 

            The camp’s significance is directly connected with the presence of Colonel George Washington being present in the area. Significant to Latrobe because the future first President of the United States stayed and rested in close proximity to the town, whilst he was making his first of many, steps toward greatness. Significant to the war because Washington was traveling from Fort Cumberland, in Maryland, to Fort Duquesne, in present-day Pittsburgh. Fort Shippen was then built on the same site as the Twelve Mile Camp in 1774. Washington had established a few camps that were similar to the Twelve Mile Camp. One example can be seen at “Washington’s Camp” which was a camp that was located near present-day Murrysville. These camps were established along with the work in progress, which was the Forbes Road. 

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Image Sources(Click to expand)

Thomas, Harold A. The Last Two Campsites of Forbes' Army, 1963, 45–56. “Twelve Mile Camp Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, June 16, 2016.

Thomas, Harold A. The Last Two Campsites of Forbes' Army, 1963, 45–56. “Twelve Mile Camp Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, June 16, 2016.