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Friday marked the 253rd Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Loudoun, November 16–18, 1765.
This happened at Fort Loudoun, Pennsylvania. A company of frontier militia, known locally as “The Black Boys” for the distinctive way they blackened their faces with soot and grease, laid siege to the local fort, then manned by a detachment of British regulars. These troops, experienced soldiers of the 42nd Royal Scots Regiment of Foot, also known as “the Black Watch,” were pinned down for two full days by the continuous harassment and interdiction fire from the militiamen’s rifles. Despite holding what ought to have been a superior position given the prevailing infantry tactics of the time, the British commander surrendered the fort and retreated back to Fort Pitt. There were no deaths, but neither were the British ever able to employ maneuver to bring their smoothbore muskets or bayonets against the militia.
Relations between the local residents of the region around Fort Loudoun and the British soldiers had been deteriorating for some time, starting with a dispute of trade goods crossing the frontier earlier in the year. After several increasingly violent exchanges, the uprising culminated in the siege. After it was over, the British Army withdrew from the region completely, and never re-garrisoned the fort.
The Black Boys militia were able to achieve success by applying new tactics and new weapons to achieve parity with the superior discipline and conventional tactics of the British regulars. My research leads me to conclude that the 1765 Siege of Fort Loudoun was the first time American militiamen fought with and defeated British regulars, a harbinger of later events during the War of Independence.