The Friends of Fort Laurens Foundation (http://www.friendsoffortlaurens.org/) is actively seeking any and all records which reference Fort Laurens in any way. Fort Laurens was the only Revolutionary War fort built in what is now the State of Ohio. It was built in Nov.-Dec. 1778 near what is now the town of Bolivar, Ohio, 20 miles south of Canton. The troops that built Fort Laurens were the 8th Pennsylvania and 13th Virginia Regiments, plus militia from both states. A few soldiers had been born in other states, like Maryland or North Carolina. If your Revolutionary War ancestor had been stationed at Forts Pitt, McIntosh, Crawford, or Henry/Wheeling, then he may have helped build Fort Laurens. In October 1778, the army left Fort Pitt and traveled 20 miles down the Ohio River to the mouth of Beaver Creek, location of present-day Beaver, PA. There they built Fort McIntosh, named for their commander, General Lachlan McIntosh. Leaving about 300 men at Fort McIntosh, about 1200 troops then marched 72 miles west, arriving in the Tuscarawas Valley in Ohio territory.
This march took about 2 weeks due to the poor condition of horses and cattle and bad weather. Although the original goal had been to march all the way to the Sandusky towns on Lake Erie, McIntosh decided to forego the attacks on those Indian towns and to build a fort in which to sit out the winter. Named for Henry Laurens, the President of the Continental Congress and a good friend of McIntosh, the wooden stockade was approximately one acre in size. By late December 1778, supplies were running low; and militia enlistments were due to expire by the end of that month. Gen. McIntosh took most of the soldiers back to Forts McIntosh and Pitt, leaving 172 men, and 5 women, mostly of the 13th Virginia Regiment, to defend Fort Laurens. Col. John Gibson was the commanding officer over the winter.More information may be found at http://www.friendsoffortlaurens.org.
President Abraham Lincoln's grandfather and namesake, Captain Abraham Lincoln, the appointed Deputy Commissioner of Hides, West of the Mountains, was at Fort Laurens. Col. Richard Taylor, father of future president Zachary Taylor was also there. French engineer, Louis Antoine Jean Baptiste de Cambray-Digny, designed both Fort McIntosh and Fort Laurens. As the winter went on and conditions worsened, the British and their allies--Wyandot, Mingo, Munsee, and Delaware warriors--laid siege to the fort. Fifteen of seventeen men were killed in an ambush of a wood-gathering foray. Two men were captured. One was killed by the Indians and one survived. The remains of those men killed in the ambush were buried in front of the fort gate - “The Fort Cemetery” - where six other soldiers who had been killed in other attacks at or near the fort were buried. All in all, about thirty deaths are associated with Fort Laurens’ history.
The siege continued until mid-March 1779. It was reported that the starving garrison survived by boiling and eating moccasins and leftover beef hides. Thus, there is an annual Moccasin Roast fund-raising dinner every September. The siege was lifted on March 23, 1779. The fort was abandoned in August 1779. Plans are under way to build a replica of Fort Laurens on or near the site of the original fort. Ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry are being used now to make sure there is nothing of historical or archaeological significance in that area before digging begins. The Web site has a list of men who were believed to be at Fort Laurens (also sometimes spelled Fort Lawrence or Laurence) in some capacity. The list is incomplete, and some of those men may not have been at the fort. At least 81 of those men did state in their Revolutionary War pension applications that they helped build Fort Laurens/Lawrence. Thanks to Footnote.com (now Fold3.com), we have found the names of forty-two more men who also built Fort Laurens. The review of hundreds of pension applications has shown that dozens of other men might have been at Fort Laurens since they were also at Fort McIntosh during the known time frame. There are plans to update and revamp the Fort Laurens soldiers' list in the future. Please check the Web site to see if your ancestor's name may be on the list. Perhaps you have some family history or other record that indicates your Revolutionary War veteran was at Fort Laurens between November 1778 and August 1779.