FORT LAURENS STATE MEMORIAL
Named in honor of Henry Laurens, then president of the Continental Congress, Fort Laurens was built in 1778 in an ill-fated campaign to attack the British at Detroit. Supplying this wilderness outpost was its downfall, as its starving garrison survived on boiled moccasins and withstood a month-long siege by British-led Indians. The fort was abandoned in 1779.
Today, only the outline of the fort remains, but a small museum commemorates the frontier soldier, houses a video giving the fort's history and archaeological artifacts from the fort's excavation.
The large park surrounding the museum is an ideal picnic site, with two shelters, and the location for periodic military reenactments. The remains of the soldiers who died defending the fort are buried in a crypt in the museum wall and at the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution.
Fort Laurens State Memorial is located in Bolivar, Ohio, and holds great historical significance as an American Revolutionary War-era fort. The fort, named in honor of Henry Laurens, the President of the Continental Congress, was the only fort built by the United States Army in what is now Ohio.
In 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, the United States had been fighting against British forces and their Native American allies for control of the frontier. The American General George Washington ordered the construction of a fort to be used as a supply base at what is now Bolivar, Ohio. The fort was situated on the banks of the Tuscarawas River, which was a major transportation route at that time.
Construction of Fort Laurens began in September 1778 under the leadership of General Lachlan McIntosh. However, due to a lack of supplies, manpower, and harsh winter conditions, the fort was not completed according to the original plan. Nevertheless, a garrison of soldiers was stationed there to protect the unfinished fort.
In 1779, Fort Laurens faced significant trouble as the British and their Native American allies launched attacks against the fort. The Native Americans, led by chief Charles W. White Eyes of the Lenape tribe, played a crucial role in the defense of the fort and repelled the British siege. The fort eventually managed to endure the attacks and continued its role as a supply base in the frontier region.
Despite its military significance, Fort Laurens was ultimately abandoned in August 1779. The decision to abandon the fort was made due to ongoing supply problems, exposure to attacks, and the approach of the harsh winter. The soldiers stationed there were relocated to better-equipped forts.
Today, Fort Laurens State Memorial stands as a testament to the sacrifices made by the soldiers during that time. The site includes a museum, reconstructed fort buildings, and a cemetery containing the remains of soldiers who died defending the fort. It is a memorial to the soldiers who fought and died during the Revolutionary War and serves as a reminder of Ohio's role in the struggle for American independence.