The Fort Edwards Foundation
The Fort Edwards Foundation of Capon Bridge, West Virginia


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Progress Report on the Stockade

We are looking for strong volunteers to help finish this stockade project!

 Update: We have grant money to complete the Bastion! 
 See Also: 2011 Project: Landscaping and Walking Trails 

bastion wall 03.jpg

    It has been a long struggle, but some of the bastion wall is finally up. Our thanks go out to Danny Oates of Hampshire Homebuilders who supplied a backhoe and operator on Friday, Sept. 8th just so we could have something up for French and Indian War Heritage Day, part of our County's Hampshire Heritage Days celebration. The wall is made up of full and half-split locust posts. The taller flag pole is the point of the bastion; on the right is the last bastion pole before it turns to the regular wall. The bastion protrudes out from the wall so a man can stand protected inside it and fire along the wall at anyone trying to burn, batter or climb over the wall.

bastionwall outside view 09.jpg
 
      The first picture above shows the "inside" of the bastion; the picture immediately to the right shows the outside view. We followed the example of Col. Washington at Fort Necessity who used split white oak with the flat side facing out toward the enemy. We believe this was so there would be fewer angles for bullets to ricochet off. If you look closely you can see that some of the split logs have a pronounced twist to them; this is natural in split logs.

    We will have to take time later to get up on a scafold and cut the points in the top of the logs. Our hurried schedule did not allow for all finish work to be done before we had to raise the wall. Thanks to the Foundation's President, Mark Jones, and to our friend, Phil Gallery, who helped with the wall erection. We also owe a "Thank you" to North River Mills's resident locust post splitter, Buck O'Brien, for his artful work. Why he slit the easy logs and left the hard, twisted ones to us we can not imagine!
 

short logs mark outline
 
    Neither our budget nor our supply of laborers allow us to reproduce all of the wall the archaeologists have discovered as a full size stockade. Therefore we have used a little imagination and ask our visitors to do the same. The bastion will be reproduced full size, but most of the rest of the wall will be marked by short logs. This allows each locust post to cover many more lineal feet of stockade than if we used full 14 foot logs upright. One will be able to stand within a full size bastion (when it is complete) and see the outline of the entire stockade as it has been excavated. It will just take a little imagination to see it as a full size, Indian-proof, bullet-proof fort wall.

    If you have any 14 foot long straight locust logs between 6-12 in diameter and would like to donate them, please let us know. We would be happy for any help we can get in completing this project.

artist's conception of wall as dug

Our hope is to have a wall that represents what the archeologists have found. The drawing above has added some segments (including the gate section) that have not yet been discovered, but the in-wall bastion, the end bastion and jog in the wall have been found. At the present time only the in-wall bastion is planned to be full size; the other segments will be represented by short logs. Can you help with this project?


Earlier Work

    On June 17, 2006 we had scheduled another work day for the stockade. However, it turned out to be a weekend when few people were available, so we had only three volunteers who came to help. In spite of the small numbers we made substantial progress.

Start of work
Start of the Day

 Fortunately, our Work Day had been preceeded by much preparatory labor. One of the major tasks was outlining the stockade wall using the plans supplied by Stephen McBride, our Archaeologist. Marking the Line Frank Whitacre, a local surveyor, donated his time on Friday to come work on marking our stockade line. The white line you see here sprayed in the grass is our approximation of the actual stockade feature.  We say "approximation" because we have laid out straight lines assuming that we, like the fort builders of old, will deviate slightly and get the kind of line the actual stockade had - a not quite perfect line.  Of course, we have not discovered the entire stockade line, so we have gaps that will be shown as our estimations.  The flag pole marking the bastion point is just to the right of the photo.

 The other preparatory work was securing the locust logs.  We have been fortunate to find a logger in Pennsylvania who has some very fine locust logs. They are almost impossible to find in West Virginia east of the Allegheny Front.  One of our Directors hauled the logs from Pennsylvania on a trialer.  Here they await unloading. You can see they are a very good size and quite straight.  Some are large enough to split. In colonial times when large logs were so plentiful, it was common to split logs for a stockade.  You get more footage from the log that way.

Locust logs awaiting unloading 

Daniel and Nathaniel cutting logs
 
    The next task after unloading the trailer and hauling more logs from a nearby location was to cut some logs to length and sharpen the tops.  Here you see two of our newest volunteers, Daniel and Nathaniel Grodzicki working on that task.  You will note that Daniel has brought his freshly sharpened axe for the job. The axe would have been the common tool on the frontier rather than a saw.  However, in colonial times they used what is known as a broad axe with a broader blade than we use today.

 

 

 

   Sharpening the points
   Sharpening the log tops with fingers and toes well out of harm's way

Debarking the logs

Debarking the logs
 
    Meanwhile, our other volunteer, Jason Johnsrud, was doing the laborious task of debarking the logs.  It is not necessary for us to take all the bark off, since it will weather off, but where the logs abutt one another, it is best to debark the logs for a tighter fit. Since the loggers cut these locusts when they find them on a job, they are not always cut when it is easiest to debark them.  For some, the bark will almost fall off, but for most it is a very laborious task.  Note Jason's specialized tool - yes, it is the trusty folding military shovel for digging foxholes.

   Finally, late in the afternoon, we got around to putting up the posts.  Our project calls for an actual stockade wall only in the area of the bastion since logs are so limited and our work crew so sparse.  Therefore, we are putting up posts at the turns in the wall and at the ends of features.  Below you see our volunteers standing by the post marking the southernmost bastion's point. As time and labor allows we will continue to complete our project. However, we can only do it if we get help from our members and friends. 

Post at the southern bastion

    We thank Jason who came from northern Virginia and Nathaniel and Daniel who came from Harpers Ferry to help us for the day.  They did a wonderful job in spite of the 90 degree heat!

first look at the stockade representation
  This shot is looking from the south half bastion of the stockade wall northward to the bastion.
Most of the wall will be represented by the short logs just barely showing the outline above the grass.


trailer with logs arrives at the site

Getting volunteers to work on the stockade project has been something of a problem, but finally three Board members got together to restart the stockade project. In spite of the cold and damp November day, the three intrepid workers loaded a pile of locust logs an a trailer and brought them to the site. Here you see Mark Jones and Clyde DeWitt unloading and dragging logs to the work pile where they will await a better day so the logs can be prepared for erection. It certainly helped to have Clyde's small tractor particularly since, unlike Joseph Edwards and Col. Washington, we don't have a team of horses.
sliding the logs off the trailer
sliding logs off the trailer

Please remember that we are looking for volunteers to help finish our stockade interpretation so our site will have more interesting things for our visitors to see. Col. Washington needs you to help!


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