A small village atop a mountain in south western Pennsylvania can lay claim to being the starting point of the first truly international war.
The volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire.
- Horace Walpole
The French & Indian War* began when a young George Washington, leading a force of British and friendly Indian troops, came across a small party of Frenchmen and a skirmish broke out.
It was raining on the night of May 27, 1754, and the French were huddled under a rock outcropping, seeking shelter from the storm. Washington's party discovered the French encampment near dawn and attacked as the French prepared breakfast. No one knows for sure who fired the first shot, but after a 15-minute battle, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville and nine other Frenchmen were killed, and 21 were captured. One escaped and walked barefoot back to Fort Duquesne, the site of present-day Pittsburgh.
Washington's casualties were one man killed and two or three wounded. Washington sent his prisoners back to Williamsburg, Virginia, and set about preparing to meet the French counter-assault. The site where the battle took place is known as 'Jumonville Glen', named after the French commander who was slain there.
The present-day village of Jumonville is little more than a cluster of houses along the main road which travels down the spine of the mountain. However, it is home to the Jumonville Methodist Training Centre which adjoins Jumonville Glen.
The training centre is open to the public and features the 'Green Cathedral', buildings dating from a Civil War Soldiers' Orphans School operated there from 1875 - 1908, many walking trails through the 270-acres of forested grounds and a huge steel cross high atop Dunbar's Knob.
The Green Cathedral is so-called because it is literally an open-air church carved out of the surrounding woodlands. A large meadow with a pond welcomes visitors and the 'sanctuary' is made up of hand-hewn wooden pews. The pulpit is surrounded by flowering Mountain Laurel bushes. There is a reflecting pool in the centre of the meadow and several trails lead into the forest from here.