Augusta is the capital of the US state of Maine, county seat of Kennebec County, and center of population for Maine. The city's population was 19,136 at the 2010 census, making it the third-smallest state capital after Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota. Located on the Kennebec River at the head of tide, it is home to the University of Maine at Augusta.
The area was first explored by members of the ill-fated Popham Colony in September 1607. It was first inhabited by English settlers from the Plymouth Colony in 1629 as a trading post on the Kennebec River. The settlement was known by its Indian name—Cushnoc (or Coussinoc or Koussinoc), meaning "head of tide." Fur trading was at first profitable, but with Indian uprisings and declining revenues, the Plymouth Colony sold the Kennebec Patent in 1661. Cushnoc would remain empty for the next 75 years.
A hotbed of Abenaki hostility toward British settlements was located further up the Kennebec at Norridgewock. In 1722, the tribe and its allies attacked Fort Richmond (now Richmond) and destroyed Brunswick. In response, Norridgewock was sacked in 1724 during Dummer's War, when English forces gained tentative control of the Kennebec. In 1754, a blockhouse named Fort Western (now the oldest wooden fort in America), was built at Cushnoc on the eastern bank. It was intended as a supply depot for Fort Halifax upriver, as well as to protect its own region. In 1775, Benedict Arnold and his 1,100 troops would use Fort Western as a staging area before continuing their journey up the Kennebec to the Battle of Quebec.