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by Eliot Johnson
Milestones Vol 24 No 1 Spring 1999

Eighty-two years of hope, effort and enthusiasm to preserve Legion Ville, and still trying! The site of the FIRST United States Army Military Training Camp is buried under soil, overgrowth and steel mill waste. Located along the Ohio River between Baden and Ambridge in Harmony Township, the area in question is approximately fifty acres.

The story of Legion Ville goes back to the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. The British fell back to their outposts along the Great Lakes in Michigan, Ohio and New York knowing the American Army had little strength. Then the British incited the various Native American tribes to attack settlers who were pushing west, in order to prevent further expansion. After Congress passed the first U.S. Militia Act, President George Washington was given funds to train and equip new recruits. He appointed Maj. General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to accomplish this. In Ft. Lafayette (present day Pittsburgh), the men began to drink, steal and fight so Wayne decided to move to a more isolated area. In early November 1792, 200 men went to a spot 22 miles north of Pittsburgh along the Ohio to clear the ground. By the end of the same month, ships with about 2,000 men, supplies and equipment arrived at the new Legion Ville, named after the legions of Julius Caesar. Five hundred buildings were erected, and intensive training of disciplined troops in combat skills of infantry, cavalry and artillery was begun. At the end of April 1793 Wayne and troops set off for Ohio, building forts along the way, and in August 1794 defeated the Miamis at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Three famous men - - William Clark, who later went west with Meriwether Lewis, Zebulon Pike and William Harrison, 9th U.S. President - - were in Wayne's force. Two years later all British posts in the United States had surrendered.

First recognition of the Legion Ville encampment was by the Fort McIntosh Chapter of the D.A.R. raising a flag on October 30, 1915. On June 22, 1918, the Wayne-Logstown Monument was dedicated at Legion Ville. The adjacent Indian camp of Logstown was active between 1727-1758. Legion Ville was designated a National Historic Site by the Dept. of Interior March 17, 1975. In 1977 Senator John Heinz introduced S. 1104 in the Senate to restore Legionville. On November 2, 1978, President Carter vetoed Legion Ville restoration.

The effort goes on under the leadership of the Legion Ville Historical Society, who are successors (1989) of the Anthony Wayne Historical Society (1971) who so valiantly pursued the Legion Ville cause in the 1970's and 80's. Beaver County and some historical groups want to purchase the land and see it restored to its 1792-93 appearance. The total asking price for this property is $1,700,000. After many years of trying to get grants, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania awarded Beaver County $452,000 for all proposed projects, and the Beaver County Corp. for Economic Development has allotted $300,000 for the acquisition of Legion Ville. An additional $100,000 has been raised from other sources.

Six different archeological expeditions have made digs there. One officer and 14-17 of the troops are buried there. From the South County News: "The historical significance of the site is unparalleled. All knowledgeable Federal historical experts put Legion Ville on a par with Independence Hall, Valley Forge and like historic sites.