The book "Fort Cumberland" is available in a two-volume print edition and a single-volume Kindle edition.
This is an overview of a consequential western Maryland history book titled "Fort Cumberland" that is sure to expand any reader's knowledge of the settlement of and military activity within the general neighborhood of Wills Creek. This 982-page two-volume book was written by Mr. Lannie Dietle, and is published by the Allegany County Historical Society, which receives all proceeds.
Why a new western Maryland history book was written
The principal purpose of writing the book "Fort Cumberland" was to document two western Maryland history topics that are scarcely mentioned in William Lowdermilk's classic 1878 book, the "History of Cumberland (Maryland)":
Lowdermilk's book provides good coverage of Fort Cumberland-area events during the French and Indian War, and provides good coverage of the town of Cumberland after its founding in the mid-1780s. Because of the general excellence of the book, some of his readers were left with the impression that very little happened in the western Maryland area during the time periods that he did not cover (identified in the bullet list above).
The periods Lowdermilk did not cover would have been virtually impossible to research during his lifetime. The research that the settlement-related portions of the book "Fort Cumberland" is based on was only feasible due to the availability of computer-searchable databases of old materials such as deeds, newspapers, books, letters, maps, government records, etc.
During the writing of the "Fort Cumberland" book, two things became clear. First, to really do justice to the study of early frontier settlements in the general neighborhood of Wills Creek, one cannot ignore the early settlers in neighboring portions of Virginia and Pennsylvania. This is because Maryland is only about 5.1-miles wide at Wills Creek. Second, it became clear that the book was an opportunity to tell a more complete story of the origin of the French and Indian War, compared to the western Maryland-oriented focus of Lowdermilk's book. This was adopted as the secondary purpose of the book. Compared to Lowdermilk's book, Mr. Dietle's book also provides a much more comprehensive look at the involvement of Fort Cumberland in the French and Indian War and Pontiac's War. It is a "must have" book for anyone interested in the history of western Maryland.
Organization of the "Fort Cumberland" book
The first two chapters provide a brief overview of the content and organization of the book, a brief overview of Wills Creek-related history and geography, and a description of the objectives of the book. The third chapter provides an overview of early transportation network in the neighborhood of Wills Creek, to demonstrate that the region was an early western Maryland transportation hub.
Chapter 4 is a 43-page examination of local settlement activity in the neighborhood of Wills Creek prior to 1754, providing documentary evidence that the region was settled before the French and Indian War. The names of many of the earliest frontiersmen are identified.
Chapter 5 weaves information about the Wills Creek area into a broader chronologically organized 99-page study of the time period leading up to armed conflict between the military forces of Britain and France. One purpose of Chapter 5 is to provide an understanding of how the history of western Maryland fits into the overall chain of events that precipitated the French and Indian war.
Chapters 6 through 38 cover the history of the portion of western Maryland near Wills Creek on a year-by-year basis beginning with 1754 and ending with the founding of the town of Cumberland, Maryland in the mid-1780s. These chapters also cover settlement activity in nearby portions of Virginia and Pennsylvania. The history and construction of Fort Cumberland — including activities at the fort during the French and Indian War, Pontiac's War, and the Revolutionary War — are covered in a level of detail that in my opinion far surpasses all the other western Maryland history books that have ever been written.
Chapter 39 provides 39 pages of miscellaneous information about the area after the founding of the town of Cumberland, and Chapter 40 shows that the town was sometimes still being referred to by the name Fort Cumberland in the early 1800s.
For a more complete overview of the contents of the book, click here. Learn more about the pioneer men and women who shaped early western Maryland history — Order today!
The following image shows the Table of Contents for Volume 1 of the western Maryland history book "Fort Cumberland".
The following image shows the Table of Contents for Volume 2 of the "Fort Cumberland" book.