Nestled away at Krodel Park, Point Pleasant, West Virginia where two great rivers meet, the Ohio and Kanawha, you will find Fort Randolph. A long and prestigious history has followed this fort. It was a refuge for white settlers against Indian attacks, was the farthest most out-post of the colonies and also played an important part in the American Revolutionary War. In 1776 Captain Matthew Arbuckle marched a Virginia force to the forks of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. Under orders from General Edward Hand, Arbuckle had a stockade erected there that was named after Continental Congressman Peyton Randolph. Fort Randolph became the scene of important events in the first years of the American Revolution. It was a well known outpost throughout the colonies and stood to prevent attacks on the colonies from the west during the first three years of the American Revolution. It also played a significant role in preventing an Indian alliance with the British during the revolution. Shawnee Principal Chief Cornstalk, the leader of the Indian army at the 1774 battle, returned to Point Pleasant in the fall of 1777 to warn the garrison that despite his best efforts at maintaining peace, his nation was bent on war with Virginia. Arbuckle detained Cornstalk. His son Elinipsico and another Shawnee, Red Hawk were detained also when they came to the fort to see why Cornstalk had been gone from home for so long. After Cornstalk’s and the other Indians detention, several companies arrived at the fort, including that of Captain James Hall from recently formed Rockbridge County, Virginia. The Indians’ presence at the fort was intended to promote and insure peace, but when a Virginia soldier was killed outside the fort, Cornstalk and his followers were wrongfully blamed. An angry mob led by Captain Hall pushed past the fort’s commander and murdered the Indians. Because the Virginia and Pennsylvania Governors held a farcical trial and the men who did the terrible crime were acquitted the Shawnee war faction planned for war. Fort Randolph would have to be captured or burned to begin the return of lands back to the Shawnee nation.
In May of 1778 an army of 300 Shawnees and Wyandottes besieged Fort Randolph and tried the defensive skill of its current commandant, Captain William McKee. The Indians were repulsed with the help of Chief Cornstalk’s sister, Nonhelema. She and her brother believed in peace so strongly between the white and red men that even though her brother was killed she continued to help to bring peace between the two nations. Because of the assistance she gave Captain McKee the white forces were able to help save the Greenbrier settlement from surprise attack and saved numerous lives.
In 1779 the soldiers abandoned Fort Randolph and it was subsequently burned to the ground by the Indians. Because of the needs of people emigrating westward another fort was built in Point Pleasant almost on the same scale as its predecessor. This fort was distinguished from others because it contained the first women settlers. This second Fort Randolph, however, died from lack of necessity, the opposite of the very reason it was built. Settlers started setting up homes around the fort and lost the need for Fort Randolph. It was eventually either torn or burned down.
Fort Randolph is located in Krodel Park in Point Pleasant, WV.
The fort is located approximately 1 mile from the sites of the original two forts that shared its name.
For more info, visit fortrandolph.org