Fort Frederick – Frontier Outpost in Washington County


Bone buttons and button blanks from Fort Frederick.  Photo:  MAC Lab

In the mid-1750s, the Maryland frontier was a place of uncertainty and fear as the threat of war loomed large. French expansion from the north into the Ohio River Valley was at odds with Britain’s claims to control of the North American colonies as it spread ever-westward.  By the 1740s, British had begun trading with Native Americans in the Ohio Valley, infringing on previously-established French trade relationships. Tensions eventually erupted into armed conflict in May of 1754, with French forces defeating George Washington during a dispute over control of the French Fort Duquesne.  Several additional defeats the following year led the British to officially declare war on France in 1756 (Cowley and Parker 1996). The French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years’ War) ended in British victory in 1763 with the French ceding New France east of the Mississippi to Great Britain.

Fort Frederick, located in Maryland’s Washington County, was built as an English stronghold during the French and Indian War. Serving primarily as a staging area for the British, the fort did not see any battles during the war, although provincial troops from Virginia and North Carolina, county militia groups and a company of royal regulars were garrisoned there for frontier duty.  In 1763 the fort was occupied briefly, both by troops and nearby residents seeking protection during the Pontiac Rebellion. During the American Revolution, captured British troops were imprisoned at the fort (Fort Frederick 2017).  The fort was eventually abandoned altogether and the land sold and farmed.  Today, the fort walls and some of the buildings have been reconstructed to their 1758 appearance and it serves as a state park. Continue reading

Fort Frederick Conservation Project Completed

Conservators at the MAC Lab have completed treatment on wooden timbers from Fort Frederick in Albany, New York. Built in 1676 to protect Albany from Native Americans, Fort Frederick was originally comprised of two small buildings surrounded by a stockade. After the French and Indian War, the people of Albany salvaged much of the fort’s construction material and, during the Revolutionary War, what remained of the fort was used as a jail. The recently conserved timbers are the remains of part of the stockade that was left underground when the fort was dismantled in 1789. Conservation treatment included desalination, polyethylene glycol impregnation, and vacuum freeze drying.

Fort Frederisck in 1763.

Wrapped timbers await further packing next to the vacuum
freeze drier where they completed their treatment.

Soon to be on their way home to New York.