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Fort McClure, Columbia County, Pennsylvania

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Site of Fort McClure, Town of Bloomsburg
Site of Fort McClure, Town of Bloomsburg

Col. Freeze says, the year 1777 and the next four or five following, were years of great activity and danger in the Indian fighting in and about what was originally Columbia county. The regular military authorities had done their best to protect the frontiers of the Pennsylvania settlements, but they had few officers and fewer men to spare from the Federal army, and therefore, the defense of the settlements fell upon the local heroes and heroines of the Forts of the Susquehanna.

A chain of forts, more or less protective had been constructed, reaching from the West Branch to the North Branch of the Susquehanna, comprising Fort Muncy, Fort Freeland, Fort Montgomery, Bosley’s Mills, Fort Wheeler and Fort Jenkins. The great war path through the valley, known as the “The Fishing Creek Path,” started on the flats, near Bloomsburg, on the North Branch, up Fishing creek to Orangeville, on to near Long Pond, now called Ganoga Lake, thence across to Tunkhannock creek.[1] It was on this very path that Van Campen, the most prominent Indian fighter on the North Branch was captured, in 1780, and no man better than he knew the great necessities of the section.

The destruction of Fort Jenkins in 1780 had exposed the right flank of the protecting forts and the Indian marauders made wild work among our defenseless frontiers. On his (Van Campen’s) return from captivity he assisted in organizing a new force, repairing the forts dismantled or abandoned, and also stockaded the residence of Mrs. James McClure, and the place was thereafter known as McClure’s Fort. It is on the north bank of the North Branch of the river Susquehanna, and is reported to have occupied the exact site of the present dwelling house of the late Douglas Hughes, below Bloomsburg, about one mile above the mouth of Fishing creek. It was an accessible point and gave the command of the military line across the river valley. It became the headquarters for stores and expeditions, and was an important point so long as it was necessary to maintain fortifications on the river.

It does not seem to have ever been formally attacked, but there are traditions of lurking savages and hurried embarking upon boats and canoes and the protection of the wide Susquehanna.

How thrilling soever these adventures may have been they are now forgotten.

“Time rolls his ceaseless course; the race of yore,
Who danced our infancy upon their knee,
And told our marveling boyhood legends store
Of their strange ventures happ’d by land or sea,
How are they blotted from the things that be!”

Footnotes

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  1. Col. Freeze is mistaken; the Indians with Van Campen and Pence, followed the path up the east branch of Fishing Creek, known as Huntington Creek, and in Huntington Township, fired on Col. John Franklin’s men, slightly wounding Capt. Ransom, as related by Moses Van Campen.

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