Forbes Road (General)
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Jct. US 30 & PA 31, 4 miles W of Bedford
November 17, 1947
Like General Edward Braddock before him, Forbes faced an almost impossible task: transporting an army and artillery to the Forks of the Ohio through a wilderness previously traveled only by Indians, fur traders, and packhorses. Fortunately for Forbes, he had Braddock's experience to guide him. He realized the importance of supply lines and fortifications, and so built the road at a slow, deliberate pace, constructing forts at regular intervals. He also refrained from engaging the enemy prematurely, lest his army be destroyed before it reached to Fort Duquesne.
In determining his route west, Forbes decided not to make use of Braddock's Road. This controversial decision angered the Virginians, including George Washington, who accompanied his army, but Forbes rightly suspected that they had ulterior motives for advocating Braddock's route. Virginia and Pennsylvania still contested the ownership of the Ohio Country, and a route cut directly through Pennsylvania would favor that colony's traders and settlers once the war was over.
The Forbes Road took so long to complete that the British did not approach Fort Duquesne until November, when an army would typically suspend operations and move into winter quarters. Nevertheless, the route provided some important advantages that ultimately made the Forbes Expedition a success. It offered a more direct route to the Ohio Country than Braddock's Road and one that was more easily supplied with provisions and transportation from eastern farms and cities.
The Forbes Road proved to be one of the most enduring legacies of the Seven Years' War for Pennsylvania. It made communication and trade easier between the eastern and western portions of the colony and provided an important route west for settlers going to the Ohio Country. Today, anyone who has traveled the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh has followed in the footsteps of Forbes's army.
There are many Forbes Road Markers that historically document the path General John Forbes journeyed with his army during the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania. The following are just a few: In Westmoreland County visit the Forbes Road Marker Forbes Road (Washington's Camp) located at US 22, 1.2 miles East of Murrysville. In Cumberland County visit the Forbes Road (Raystown Path) #1 Marker at US 11 just Southwest of Carlisle Marker and the Forbes Road (Raystown Path) #2 at US 11, 1 mile Northeast of Shippensburg. In Fulton County there is a Forbes Road (Raystown Path) #3 at US 522, .2 mile Southwest of Burnt Cabins. There are Forbes Road Markers in Allegheny County, Bedford County and Somerset County as well. For a complete list of Forbes Road Markers visit the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission web site and utilize the Marker Search engine.
Charles M. Stotz, Outposts of the War for Empire: The French and English in Western Pennsylvania: Their Armies, Their Forts, Their People, 1749-1764 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press), 1985.
Louis M. Waddell and Bruce D. Bomberger, The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania: Fortification and Struggle During the War for Empire (Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission), 1996.