Scientists find 1754 ballistics of first shots fired in French and Indian War


Archaeological investigation finds musket balls at Fort Necessity battlefield in Fayette County

Archaeological investigation finds musket balls at Fort Necessity battlefield in Fayette County


The site of the first skirmish of the seven-year-long French and Indian War has been verified after a four-week archaeological dig 
that involved multiple organizations found artifacts, including musket balls, from the 1754 battle. 

The skirmish on May 28 lasted just 15 minutes, the National Park Service said in a news release, at Jumonville Glen, a part of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Virginia provincial troops helmed by then 22-year-old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington marching under the British Flag were led to a French campsite by members of Seneca, Oneida and other Allied tribes. 

The two sides engaged in gunfire and at the end of the skirmish, 13 Frenchmen were dead and 21 were captured. One British soldier was killed, and two or three were wounded, the NPS said. The French and Indian War pitted French soldiers and British colonists against each other – with each side aided by local tribes – and came to an end when the French relinquished much of their territory in North America.

The National Park Service said archaeologists uncovered quite a few artifacts, including these musket balls, at Jumonville Glen in Fayette County.

(Photo: KDKA)

While the skirmish, known as the “Jumonville Affair,” has been remembered with living history programs held at the battlefield, this is the first time experts can say for certain that it took place on the site. Fort Necessity superintendent Stephen M. Clark described the archaeological project as the “first serious investigation” of the site.  

“We can now, with high confidence, conclude the site we protect is indeed the location of the May 28, 1754, skirmish,” said Brian Reedy, Fort Necessity National Battlefield chief of interpretation and site manager in the NPS news release. 

The investigation was conducted by members of multiple organizations, including the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery, the National Park Service Northeast Resources Program, the National Park Service Northeast Museum Services Center, Paul Martin Archaeology Associates, and the Advance Metal Detection for the Archaeologist. 

Another living history event – where volunteers, staff, and historians recreate a moment in history – will be held at the end of May to honor the 269th anniversary of the skirmish. 

National Park Service archaeologist Dr. William Griswold told CBS News Pittsburgh that the discovery of musket balls and the confirmation of the site can help historians find out even more about the events of the war. 

“This is where the affair happened. This is where it all began. We’re going to be trying to, over the next year or so, figuring out the combatants’ role, where people were positioned, what people were shooting and that’s going to come through several lines of analysis,” Griswold said.

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