Cheat Summit Fort, also called "Fort Milroy," was constructed by Federal troops in the summer of 1861. The fort was positioned to control the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. Initial work was conducted by six companies of the 14th Indiana Infantry Regiment under Colonel Nathan Kimball. At 4,000 feet, it is the highest known Union fortification in the east.
Attack on Cheat Mountain
In September of 1861 of General Robert E. Lee directed the Confederate Army of the Northwest to isolate and attack Cheat Summit Fort and Camp Elkwater (approximately 8 miles west). On September 12, a Confederate brigade under Colonel Albert Rust engaged Federal skirmishers in the dense woods west of the fort. Unaware they outnumbered the foe, Rust's forces retreated, falling to signal a wider attack. Additional Confederate setbacks near Camp Elkwater on September 13-14 ended Lee's offensive.
Cheat Summit Fort served as a Federal staging area for the October 3 attack at Camp Bartow (12 miles southeast) and a December 13 assault at Camp Allegheny (21 miles southeast). This fort never fell, but was abandoned in 1862 as the armies moved east.
The Trials of Cheat Mountain
"In the usually mild September, horses chilled to death in that camp."
- Elijah Cavins, 14th Indiana Infantry
Uncommonly cold and wet weather made life difficult for the 3,000 soldiers stationed at Cheat Summit Fort. The first snow of the season fell on August 13. Guerrillas and mud were constant problems. Disease killed men in substantial numbers. Veterans recalled their campaign here as the "severest of the war."
Artifacts, structures, and archaeological resources at Cheat Summit Fort are protected by federal laws such as the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, as amended.
Cheat Summit Fort was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The Monongahela National Forest administers the fort for the benefit of the public.
Caution: Much of this area has been altered by strip-mining. Please avoid going near all high walls. These embankments are unpredictable and could collapse.