HISTORY OF FORT LEWIS
Any definite history bearing on the building of Fort Lewis or the date of its construction is very meager. Indian depredations on the frontier of Augusta were frequent and the greatest caution was necessary on the part of the settlers, as well as the civil and military authorities. Governor Dinwiddie, though unpopular, was untiring in his efforts to protect the frontier. In 1755 civilization had not extended far beyond the present confines of Roanoke County. It is almost certain that Fort Lewis had been built and occupied as a point of defense during the previous year. The name is not mentioned in the proceedings of the "Council of War" called by Governor Dinwiddie in July, 1756, which had for its object the establishment of forts to protect our frontiers. A fort to be built at Captain Vause's, on the South Fork of Roanoke River near the present site of Shawsville, is the farthest west of the entire chain of fourteen forts ordered by the "Council of War."
On September 11th, 1754, Governor Dinwiddie wrote to Washington: "Therefore, I now order you to give a detachment of forty or fifty men to Captain Lewis (afterwards General Andrew Lewis). With them he is to march immediately to Augusta County in order to protect our frontier from the incursion of small parties of Indians, and, I suppose, some French. Order him to march immediately and to apply to Colonel Patton, the County Lieutenant, who will direct him to proceed that he may be most useful."
A letter was addressed to Colonel Andrew Lewis the same day, setting forth fully the desires of Governor Dinwiddie, in which he stated, "I now desire you to be as expeditious as possible in getting to Augusta, as I have several letters of some parties of Indians, etc., robbing and plundering our people. I wish you health and success in the command you are ordered on, and I remain, Sir, your friend, etc."
Wardell's "Annals of Augusta," in referring to this, says: "On the sixth of October, 1754, Captain Lewis was on his march to protect the frontier. He went somewhere west or south of Staunton, but to what point we cannot ascertain, and built a stockade fort there to check Indian raids—perhaps it was in the Greenbrier country, or it may have been Fort Lewis, near the site of the present town of Salem, in Roanoke County."
Inasmuch as the record shows that the chain of forts was not
established until nearly two years later by the "Council of War," and
in that chain is not mentioned the name of Fort Lewis, and as the
orders show that Captain Lewis was to apply to Colonel Patton, County
Lieutenant, who resided at Pattonsburg, on the north side of the James
River at Buchanan, "for further directions," and the further facts that
important land grants were given him in the Roanoke Valley contiguous
to, and about the site of old Fort Lewis, and his final settlement
nearby, all lead up to the well established opinion that it was here
that he built the stockade fort mentioned. Even the name "Fort Lewis"
is suggestive of the fact that it was at this point he took his stand in
the protection of the frontier.
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