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Fort Boone and Fort Swartz, Northumberland, Pennsylvania

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Boone’s Fort was erected on Muddy run, a short distance from the West Branch of the Susquehanna, on the east bank. It was a gristmill stockaded and owned by Capt. Hawkins Boone (a cousin to the famous Daniel Boone), and, according to Linn’s Annals of Buffalo Valley, came originally from Exeter, Berks County. Soon after the consolidation of the 12th regiment, Pennsylvania Line, into the 3rd and 6th, Capt. Boone, Capt. Brady and Capt. Daugherty were mustered out of service and sent, at the urgent request of the people of the West Branch to lead their defense. Boone stockaded his mill and was assisted by his neighbors and troops in defending it. A large, hardy, brave, generous man, he appears to have been highly respected by those knowing him.

His fall at Fort Freeland, in 17719, was a serious loss to the community, who looked to good results from his ability and experience: a confidence that was abruptly terminated by his bloody, but soldierly death, attempting to rescue his fellow man.

Probably his loss was more of a public calamity than any man in the valley except his comrade in arms, Capt. John Brady.

In rebuilding the Kemmerer (Boone) mill, the men employed dug down to the old foundations of the Boone mills, showing the present mills occupying the same site. It is about midway between Milton and Watsontown. The Pennsylvania Archives, Linn’s Annals and Meginness’ Otzinachson all show his ability and courage and the loss to the community by his death, as well as his assistant, Capt. Daugherty. After Boone’s death his fortifications are not heard of.

Fort Swartz

Fort Swartz was built on the east bank of the West Branch, at the old Ferry, about a mile above Milton, a log structure, named in honor of Lieut. Christian Godfried Swartz, of Col. Weltner’s German Battalion, who stockaded and defended it. It was built after the destruction of the forts above it on the river. It covered the river and its small garrison did some scouting duty. It was one of the three forts left standing from the North Branch to the West in the spring of 1780, viz: Wheeler, Rice and Swartz. It does not appear to have ever been attacked but was a sturdy little sentinel to challenge and give notice of anything passing down the river towards Northumberland and Sunbury. After the German Battalion left, it was garrisoned by the militia, when defended by any other than citizens. (In the History of the Forts, Penna. Archives, vol. xii, Appendix, p. 461, is “All we find about this fort is in a letter from Genl. Potter, dated Sunbury, September 18, 1780, in which he says I discharged the Volunteers that came from Cumberland and as soon as we could get provisions, which was the next morning, I marched the remainder, consisting of 170 men, upon the West branch to Fort Swarts. I then went to Col. Kelly, who lay at the mouth of White Deer creek with 80 men.” On the 21st of September he again writes: “I gave orders to the Frontier Companies to embody and keep one-fourth of the men, constantly reconnoitering, after garrisoning Fort Jenkins, Fort Rice and Fort Swarts, with 20 men in each of them.”) Day says Fort Swartz was one mile above Milton. Meginness says at the ferry, about one mile above Milton, a log structure garrisoned by and named for Major Christian Godfried Swartz, of Col. Weltner’s regiment.


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