Special Edition    Daily Report    October 18, 2004


The Fort Edwards  Archaeologist

Unearthing the Story of Joseph Edwards's Home and Fort    


Report on the Archaeological Excavations at Fort Edwards, home site of Joseph
Edwards and a French and Indian War frontier fort of Col. George Washington.
This second major archaeological excavation is part of the ongoing project of The Fort Edwards Foundation of Capon Bridge, West Virginia, to preserve, protect and interpret the home site and fort site at Joseph Edwards's land grant on the banks of the Cacapon River in Hampshire County, West Virginia. This site represents both an early settler's home of the second quarter of the eighteenth century and a French and Indian War fort in Col. George Washington's chain of forts protecting the Virginia frontier. The excavation is under the direction of Dr. Stephen McBride of McBride Preservation Services of Lexington, KY. This report provided by The Foundation.


Daily Dig Report Summary, 2004

10-18-11.jpg survey     The morning of Monday, October 18, 2004 dawned brighter and colder than that of the 8th when we began. The morning was filled with rushing to do the final mapping of features uncovered yesterday and with covering everything with plastic so the bulldozer could cover the features until such time as we might revisit them. 10-18-15.jpg ann survey
10-18-03 plastic
10-18-19  dozer

10-18-21 pack
    After the dozer had done its work and everything was packed it was time for a last picture of the professional team at the site.
10-18-24 team
Ann Wilkinson, Kurt Rademaker, Stephen McBride, David McBride

   Team Leader
Stephen McBride     Dr. Stephen McBride received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He has extensive experience investigating eighteenth and nineteenth century sites in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Southeast. He has inventoried the forts of the Greenbrier Valley and recently excavated at Arbuckles Fort. In his work with Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park he worked on exhibits and a driving tour brochure.

    Dr. McBride led the team from Wilber Smith Associates that did the May, 2001 excavation at Fort Edwards. His report on that dig was summarized on the Fort Edwards web site.

Dig Summary

    The 2004 archaeological excavation can be considered a great success. The original goals have been met although it took until the last day before we could say that. We have enlarged our understanding of the home and fort of Joseph Edwards in Hampshire County. We believe we have discovered the house site of the Edwards family, and we have found a new bastion in the stockade wall as well as finding two other wall segments near the spring. Unfortunately, there were not many artifacts recovered during the dig, but there were many new features discovered. The fact that the foundation feature that we believe may be Joseph Edwards's home is numbered #91 shows how feature-rich the site is. It will remain for future digs to find the trash pits and privies that will add to our understanding of life on the frontier.

    The finding of the second bastion is truly exciting. Although further research will be needed to fully understand its importance, we can draw a few conclusions.


stockade wall2tw
Drawing of Features
    The drawing at the right is a representation of the outline of the fort and the location of a few important features. The total distance of the stockade wall as plat2 of sitewe now know it is just under 150 feet (from "a" to "b"). Note the dashed lines are sections that are assumed; they have not been excavated. The features use the numbers to be found in the final report.

    Features 60 and 73 are outside the stockade; it is assumed the stockade may go a bit further than shown before it turns back toward the segments shown at center right which are near the spring. At point "a" the wall feature is eroded away. Feature 60 is a burn feature and may represent campfire area where soldiers camped outside the fort walls. Feature 73 is colonial according to artifacts found associated with it, but we are not able at the present time to say whether or not it was actually associated with the fort. It must be remembered that Joseph Edwards had been settled here over 20 years before the fort was built.

    Features #58 and #29 are cellar features within the stockade. There are several other small features nearby. All of these features are as yet unidentified.

    Feature #91 is what we now believe may be Joseph Edwards's house. This is still a preliminary assumption since we only discovered it the last afternoon of the dig. However, it is in the area we expected to find the earliest dwelling; we used artifact collection analysis to make this determination.

    Features #25 and #26 are stockade features; feature #1 was uncovered by Dr. Gardner in 1990. We do not now know if feature #1 was inside or outside the stockade. We do not know how numbers 25 and 26 relate to the bastion we just found, but we assume a wall goes from the bastion to the area of features #25 and #26.

    The lines on the right of the drawing are all going toward the spring which we assume was protected by stockade walls to insure a water supply in case of attack. We do not know how these stockade lines tie in with the ones to the left.

The Stockade Wall
    The stockade wall is a very interesting feature. It is unlike any stockade mentioned by Col. George Washington; rather it resembles a fortification designed by Benjamin Franlkin for the Pennsylvania frontier. jog firingHowever, it has a unique addition. The jog in the wall could be included for several reasons. First, it might allow the wall to skirt a building that was in the way of a straight wall line. Or, it could have the purpose of reinforcing fire on an important point in the wall.

    If the jog was not there the stretch of the wall we see could only be guarded by fire from the in-wall bastion. However, with the jog in the wall, the area between the in-wall bastion and the jog could be covered by fire from two directions. Could this heavily protected portion of the wall have contained the main gate? We will have to excavate that portion of the wall very carefully in the future to determine if there was a gate or other particularly important feature that the designer was trying to fully protect.

    In any case, we can see from the segments of the stockade that we have found that this was a well designed fortification. It was not a hastily thrown up fort without intelligent design. What arouses our curiosity is that there is no record of this design in Col. Washington's writings. Nor is there mention of someone particular assigned to the fort during its construction. Who designed this fort? Were they familiar with Mr. Franklin's design? Why did neither Col. Washington nor contemporary Virginia records make note of this design? So many questions, so few answers!

Burn Areas Outside the Stockade
    The burn area outside the stockade and the adjacent rock pile that gave us the eighteenth century bottle base are areas that will have to be revisited in the future. Assuming they are associated with the fort, they show that we need to remember interesting features can be found away from the stockade and the Edwards's house. We know that there were often large numbers of men and supplies at Edwards's Fort as supply trains or troops spend the night on their way to the forts to the west on the South Branch or to Fort Cumberland. There may in fact be many more features outside the stockade than there are inside. Only further searching will reveal the answer to this question.

stockade wall7w.jpg
Thanks to Nathan Gallery for this imaginative artist's conception of the stockade wall at Fort Edwards as archaeology is revealing it. Note that the segments marked by the yellow lines have not been discovered; they are assumed based on the other parts that have been unearthed. The gate is also an assumption based on the adjacent features of the wall. The bastion segment on the left was discovered in 2001; the two features on the right were unearthed in 2004. Please note that the scale may not be exact; we are still finding out how to use our 3D program.

Lack of Artifacts
    The lack of artifacts was disappointing and something of a mystery. We assume that a fort may be kept clean by the military since at this time there was some slight understanding that trash and human waste caused sickness and brought rats and other problems. However, as we find features dating from the time before and after the fort, we would expect more artifacts of daily life. We will have to spend more time in the future looking for the trash pits and privies that will give us clues to life on the frontier. What we do know from the few artifacts we have collected is that people on the frontier were not without some wealth and valued personal items. Some of the ceramics we have discovered are relatively expensive imported items. They indicate a higher lifestyle than we had expected.

    The finding of the ten plate stove door was also significant. We sometimes forget that our site is more than a fort site. This beautiful piece of stove is a reminder of the continual occupation of our site over 275 years. It also shows us that the possession of artistic items of some value was continued through the era of the second great war that ravaged our county. Hopefully, we can continue to find artifacts that remind us of the personal stories of our site.

    Note: This report is prepared by The Fort Edwards Foundation based on preliminary findings during the excavations. There is still much work to be done analyzing the artifacts and features. There will be a report filed by Dr. McBride after these analysis are made. The Foundation will post a summary of his report on this web site. We thank you for your interest and hope you will continue to keep up with our work of preserving, protecting and interpreting this important eighteenth century frontier site.

      Web Visitors
web site visits

    The graph above shows the visitation to The Fort Edwards Foundation's web site during the month of October. Although the interest during this dig did not match that of 2001, we had a substantial increase in visits and downloads during the course of the excavation. Unfortunately, we were not able to have a school program associated with this dig, so that may be partly responsible for not matching the 2001 dig visits.

Go to: Glossary


Daily Dig Reports:
October 8th
October 9th
October 10th
October 11th
October 12th
October 13th
October 14th
October 15th
October 16th
October 17th

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