Fort at Number 4
The Fort at Number 4 was a fortification protecting Plantation Number 4, the northernmost British settlement along the Connecticut River in New Hampshire until after the French and Indian War. Number 4 was one of 32 towns established on the same day through the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Now known as Charlestown, Plantation Number 4 was more than 30 miles (50 km) from the nearest other British settlement at Fort Dummer. Settlement of the town began in 1740 by brothers Stephen, Samuel and David Farnsworth. By 1743, there were 10 families settled at Number 4.
The fortification within Number 4 was established in 1744 when the people of the town voted to move several of their homes to created a fortified section of the town. The "fort" was a rectangle of six houses connected with lean-tos. The southern end of the fort consisted of a two-story structure with a Great Hall on the second floor and an attached guard tower. The only gate into the fortification lay below the Great Hall and was flanked by a small stable to the east and a guard house to the west. Three sides of the fortification were enclosed in a stockade, which continued on the southwest side of the fort to enclose and protect an existing well.
King George's War
In 1744, during King George's War, many of the area's outlying farms and buildings were burned by the French and their Indian allies. Some settlers, along with some Indian warriors, were killed in ambushes and small skirmishes. Other settlers were taken prisoner, to be ransomed back in Canada. The settler families would all but abandon the fort in the fall of 1746; a small contingent of men stayed on at the fort until February if 1747. The fortification was later reoccupied by Capt. Phineas Stevens and 30 militia men in late March of 1747. On April 7, 11 days after Capt. Stevens and his men arrived, the fort was besieged by a force combining French militia and Abenaki warriors under the command of Ensign Boucher de Niverville of the French Marines. The siege lasted three days, until the French and Indians decided to head back to Canada rather than risk a direct attack on the fort, thus preventing further raids on settlements to the south and east. Reports of the incident claimed the sieging force was more than 500 strong, with numbers growing to over 700 as the story was repeated. French accounts of the siege put the number of Natives and accompanying French closer to 50 individuals.
French and Indian War
One Indian raid made into the town in August 1754, immediately prior to the French and Indian War, led to the capture of Susanna Willard Johnson and her family, most of whom were eventually sold into slavery. Following Johnson's release several decades later, she wrote a popular captivity narrative of her ordeal.
During the last of the French and Indian Wars, many soldiers were stationed in the Fort at Number 4 to protect the frontier. They included Colonel Nathan Whiting's Regiment of Connecticut, and Colonel John Goffe's New Hampshire Provincial Regiment. Returning from a raid on St. Francis, Quebec, Robert Rogers in 1759 sought help here for his hungry Rangers at Fort Wentworth far up the Connecticut River. Also at that time, General Jeffery Amherst ordered a road to be built between the fort and another fort newly captured at Crown Point, located on the shores of Lake Champlain in New York. Consequently, Capt. John Stark and a company of Rangers, together with Col. Goffe's Regiment, built the Crown Point Military Road. It was 77.5 miles (124.7 km) long, with many blockhouses along its route to protect supplies and travelers through the wilderness that would later become Vermont. With the defeat of the French in 1761, and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the need for the fort ended.
The Fort at Number 4 is now an open air museum that has been recreated in Charlestown, New Hampshire to depict its appearance during King George's War. A group of historians and enthusiasts portray the settlers and town militia. During most summers, the fort hosts both French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War reenactments.
- "Visitor Information". The Fort at No. 4. Retrieved July 11, 2016.