The Forbes Expedition was a British military expedition to capture Fort Duquesne, led by Brigadier-General John Forbes in 1758, during the French and Indian War. While advancing to the fort, the expedition built the now historic trail, the Forbes Road. The Treaty of Easton served to cause a loss of Native American support for the French, resulting in the French destroying the fort before the expedition could arrive on November 24.
Similarly to the unsuccessful Braddock Expedition early in the war, the strategic objective was the capture of Fort Duquesne, a French fort that had been constructed at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River in 1754. The site is now located in Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle in the downtown area.
Forbes commanded about 6,000 men, including a contingent of Virginians led by George Washington. Forbes, very ill, did not keep up with the advance of his army, but entrusted it to his second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Bouquet, a Swiss mercenary officer commanding a battalion of the Royal American Regiment.
|Division of 1st Battalion, Royal Americans||363|
|1st Highland Battalion, or 62nd Foot||998|
|Division of 1st Highland Battalion||269|
|1st Virginia Regiment||782|
|2nd Virginia Regiment||702|
|Three companies of North Carolina Provincials||141|
|Four companies of Maryland Provincials||270|
|1st Battalion, Pennsylvania Regiment||755|
|2nd Battalion, Pennsylvania Regiment||664|
|3rd Battalion, Pennsylvania Regiment||771|
|Lower County Provincials||263|
The expedition methodically constructed Forbes Road across what is now the southern part of Pennsylvania's Appalachian Plateau region, staging from Carlisle and exploiting the climb up via one of the few southern gaps of the Allegheny through the Allegheny Front, into the disputed territory of the Ohio Country, which was then a largely-depopulated Amerindian tributary territory of the Iroquois Confederation.[a] The well-organized expedition was in contrast to a similar expedition led by Edward Braddock in 1755, which ended in the disastrous Battle of the Monongahela.
Working for most of the summer on the construction of the road and on periodic fortified supply depots, the expedition did not come within striking distance of Fort Duquesne until September 1758. In mid-September, a reconnaissance force was soundly defeated in the Battle of Fort Duquesne when its leader, Major James Grant, attempted to capture the fort instead of gathering information alone. The French had their supply line from Montreal cut by other British actions and so attacked one of the expedition's forward outposts, Fort Ligonier, in an attempt to drive off the British or to acquire further supplies, but they were repulsed during the Battle of Fort Ligonier.
The Treaty of Easton concluded on October 26, 1758, caused the remnants[b] of the Lenape (Delaware), Mingo, and Shawnee tribes in the Ohio Valley to abandon the French and set up the conditions that ultimately forced them to move westward once again. The collapse of Native American support made it impossible for the French to hold Fort Duquesne and the Ohio Valley. When the expedition neared to within a few miles of Fort Duquesne in mid-November, the French abandoned and blew up the fort. Three units of scouts led by Captain Hugh Waddell entered the smoking remnants of the fort under the orders of Colonel George Washington on November 24. General Forbes, who was ill with dysentery for much of the expedition, only briefly visited the ruins. He was returned to Philadelphia in a litter and died not long afterward. The collapse of Indian support and subsequent withdrawal of the French from the Ohio Country helped contribute to the "year of wonders" the string of British "miraculous" victories also known by the Latin phrase Annus Mirabilis.