Carlisle, at the intersection of Indian trails along Letort Creek, early on became the jumping-off point for traders and settlers heading over the Allegheny Mountains. A short-lived 1756 encampment at Carlisle preceded the more permanent settlement of May 1757, at which time Col. John Stanwix marched up the stream with British regulars and provincials. With the defeat of British Gen. Braddock along the Monongahela two years earlier, the emboldened Indians had conducted raids into the Cumberland Valley. Although the townsfolk had established the civilian Fort Lowther near the center of Carlisle, Stanwix's arrival probably brought a sense of relief to the community. In 1758 British troops under the command of Gen. John Forbes left Carlisle and hacked their way west along the Raystown Indian path. This difficult route, named for the commander, Forbes, would become a major avenue for late 18th century settlement — and in the 20th century, sections of the road were incorporated into "The Lincoln Highway," US Route 30. By November, the army reached Ft. Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio River, only to discover the French had already destroyed the fort and moved on. A stockade, named Ft. Pitt, was constructed for the troops who remained behind when the major force returned to Carlisle, arriving January 7, 1759.
Today, Carlisle is home to the U.S. Army War College and the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (AHEC), an archive, museum and historical research facility. Its mission is to tell the story of American soldiers from their French and Indian War roots to current operations. The AHEC includes the U.S. Army Military History Institute, which serves as the primary research facility for the historical study of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Heritage Museum, which displays and interprets the artifacts of America's veterans, and the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, which serves as the public face of the institution by hosting tours, conferences, educational programs and special events, particularly those focused on our Army Heritage Trail. The Army Heritage Trail is a multi-venue discovery trail that highlights U.S. Army history through soldiers' stories and physical structures, such as a WWII barracks area, a French and Indian War era cabin, and four Civil War Winter Quarters, all interpreted by "living history" soldiers from May to October.