Revolutionary War barracks found at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Revolutionary War barracks destroyed by British General Cornwallis in 1781.

“Here at Colonial Williamsburg, we interpret the American Revolution and the politics that led up to it, and a lot of the events that led up to it,” Gary said. “But then, we don’t have a lot of sites that really tell us about what actually happened during the wartime. And this site does. It allows us to get some insight into the everyday lives of your everyday common soldier. it also tells us about what the officers’ lives were like.”

The remains were discovered last summer in anticipation of the construction of a new indoor sports complex near the visitor center. Over the course of five months, the excavation revealed musket balls, lead shot with tooth marks where soldiers poisoned themselves by chewing on the soft, sweet metal like jewelry fragments, pottery, horseshoes, cavalry horse fittings and grooming tools. Structural remains include bricks and chimney bases.

Only a small section of the barracks has been excavated. It was large, around three or four acres in area. It was built in 1776-7 and housed up to 2,000 soldiers and 100 horses before Cornwallis’ troops burned it down. Archaeologists plan to pick up where they left excavating the site by 2026. The planned sports center has been relocated and the excavated area covered back up for its safety.

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