In the middle of the eighteenth century, two European powers, Great Britain and France, contested ownership of the vast inner basin of North America. The resulting conflict became known in America as the French and Indian War, which developed into a global struggle for empire later called the Seven Years’ War.
Victories over Virginia Colonel George Washington at Fort Necessity in 1754, and British General Edward Braddock at the Monongahela River in 1755, gave control of the strategic forks of the Ohio River (modern Pittsburgh) to the French. This site was the gateway to the west.
In 1758, William Pitt, British secretary of state for the southern department, assigned to John Forbes, a Scottish brigadier general in America, the task of securing the backcountry, which meant seizing Fort Duquesne, the French post at the forks.
Forbes demonstrated the care that military professionals used to protect an army proceeding through enemy country, by favoring a European strategy called the “protected advance.” A deliberate, careful march across hostile territory was advised, consolidating advances by building posts and supply depots. Fort Ligonier was the final post on the Forbes Road and the staging area in southwestern Pennsylvania to attack Fort Duquesne. The most elaborate fortification undertaken in Forbes’s expedition was Fort Ligonier, “The Post at Loyalhanna.”