The story of the defense of the frontier of Virginia begins about the year 1719, by which time there seems to be reasonable evidence of settlers south of the Potomac River, on what is now the soil of West Virginia.
The ten years of comparative peace following the close of the French and Indian War disclosed a continual movement from eastern Virginia to western Virginia, and a like movement down along the Ohio River from the Pittsburgh entrance.
The old line of defense fell more or less into disuse.
Then came the hectic days of 1774, and a new outbreak between the settlers and the Indians, called Dunmore's War, of which the most important episode was the Battle of Point Pleasant.
The opening marked the beginning of border warfare between settlers and colonial and state troops and the Indians that did not end until the power of the tribes was broken by General Anthony Wayne, in the treaty of 1795.
Robert Dinwiddie, Royal Governor of Virginia, gave more than passing attention to the western border of that day.
In March, 1756, the Virginia Assembly authorized the erection of a chain of defenses on the west.Colonel George Washington, who had achieved distinction in the operations of the British Army and the local troops in the Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) region, was placed in charge.A long region reaching out from the head of the Ohio River, swinging east to Wills Creek (Cumberland), and thence roughly following the Allegheny Mountains to North Carolina, received attention.A chain of forts about twenty miles apart, designed to afford some protection for the settlers, was constructed during the next year.Many were the scenes of tragic episodes in which numerous lives were lost, especially in the region now along the South Branch of the Potomac.The Ohio Valley was the key to the possession of the continent.