Compared to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the French and Indian War, often considered the 'first world war' and known as the Seven Years War in Europe, is less indelibly stamped as a turning point in America's national narrative. The excellent Fort Ligonier, both a museum and a reconstructed fort with enthusiastic and knowledgeable historical interpreters, helps correct this oversight, providing an overview of this war over territory and its significance, both in America and elsewhere.
In the fall of 1758, when nearly 5400 soldiers manned the fort, it was the second most populated place in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. It takes a leap of imagination today to picture this otherwise ordinary spot, at a relatively busy intersection surrounded by small homes, as a valuable frontier outpost in a clash of empires.
Brigadier General John Forbes meant for Ligonier to be the final link in a chain of fortifications built across Pennsylvania and the staging post for an attack on the French at Fort Duquesne (today the site of Point State Park in Pittsburgh). Artifacts include one of the few intact British red-coat uniforms and George Washington's saddle pistols, once owned by General Andrew Jackson. Battle reenactments are held twice a year.