The impressive Fort Ligonier is a full-scale, on-site reconstruction of the 1758-1766 original, featuring a blacksmith shop and dwelling, clay bake ovens, a “hospitals complex”, sentry boxes, a Cherokee/Catawba Dwelling, artillery batteries and retrenchments. Additionally, other buildings such as soldier’s barracks, officer’s quarters, a “quartermaster” storehouse, and commissary, may be toured during a visit to the fort.
Chevaux de frise
Chevaux de fries, or “Horses of Friesland”, are portable defensive obstacles of wood, sometimes shod with iron and fastened together with chains, used to oppose an enemy, as well as to block entrances and close breaches in defenses. Wooden lances are driven through a beam, crossing each other at right angles. Set on the ground, the lower lances act as supports while the upper ones form the obstacle.
Fascine Artillery Battery
The east and west faces of the fort were shielded by fascine artillery batteries. The west battery – its subsurface “dry” moat restored and its above-ground features reconstructed – is on the exact, original site. An obstacle to an enemy, the moat provides earth to raise a battery parapet. Archeology revealed that the moat was twelve feet wide and seven feet deep, producing an elevation of seven feet for the parapet. Fascines – long, cylindrical bundles of sticks – are placed one on top of the other and staked fast, creating a lining that prevents steep slopes from collapsing. The battery, connected to the fort by log picket walls with linings, is strengthened by sloping fraises and also possibly by Chevaux de fries and two palisade walls: a vertical one, with iron spikes, in the moat and a sloped one outside.
The west and east artillery gun batteries appear in all the original fort plans. They are integral parts of the retrenchment, although built slightly higher and wider, and are cut through with splayed openings (embrasures) for field pieces and howitzers.
In November 1758, military engineer Harry Gordon warned that a direct hit by enemy mortar fire on the vulnerable magazine in the south bastion could destroy the entire fort. In 1759, an underground magazine was built to secure the fort’s powder supply. In addition to the steepness of the stairs and angle of the passageway, the powder was protected from enemy fire and would help contain an accidental explosion. This fully restored building, based completely on archeological evidence, has six- to twelve-inch wall timbers to hold back the surrounding earth and support the heavy roof.
This building is one of several designated as “Officers Houses” on contemporary maps. The ailing General John Forbes requested that a hovel or “hutt” with a fireplace be provided for him at Fort Ligonier. The proximity of this structure to the main gate suggests that it may have been the general’s residence.