After the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment had been formed and was ordered East to serve with George Washington in the American Revolution, the frontier settlements in Westmoreland County were left open to Indian attacks. The large log home of John McKibben became a shelter for many of the settlers. The nearest fort was Carnahan’s Blockhouse located about three to four miles to the east and a small military force of 60 men patrolled the area, but it was not enough to provide for the safety of the frontier. After Carnahan’s Blockhouse was attacked in August 1777, General Edward Hand ordered the building of another fort.
This post was built by Continental troops near the McKibben house on about an acre of land in the fall of 1777 and was named after General Hand. The fort was comprised of a blockhouse surrounded by a stockade with wall guns. During 1778, the only forts garrisoned by Continental troops were Fort Pitt and Fort Hand. All other stations and forts were manned by militiamen.
On April 26, 1779, Fort Hand was attacked by about 100 Indians against an independent company of some 17 men commanded by Captain Samuel Moorhead. The fight ended around noon of the following day when the Indians apparently decided the fort was not worth the effort. One of the three men in the fort wounded in the battle later died. The women in the fort supported the fight by becoming ammo carriers and seeing to the nourishment of the troops. The Indians torched a few buildings and went to enclosures and killed the horses, cattle, and sheep. While the fight was going on at Fort Hand, other Indians attacked Fort Ligonier where they were also unsuccessful.
When the war was over, the fort continued to be used until 1791 as a refuge against Indian attacks.
There are no remains of the fort today, but a stone monument marks its location at 285 Pine Run Church Road in Kunkle Park, off Pennsylvania Highway 66 south of Apollo, Pennsylvania.
Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated October 2020.