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8 “ToPreservetheForts,and theFamiliesGatheredintoThem” Archaeology of Edwards’s Fort, Capon Bridge, West Virginia W. Stephen McBride Following the defeat of Gen. Edward Braddock’s British and colonial army by the French and Indians in July 1755, Indian raids along the Virginia frontier accelerated in scale and ferocity. These raids depopulated some frontier settlements but also increased defensive measures initiated by the colonial government and private settlers. Actions taken by the Virginia government included deploying ranger companies to patrol the frontier, enlarging their colonial military force, known as the Virginia Regiment, calling out county militia companies, and building forts to garrison troops and militia and to provide a safe haven for settlers. A major goal of these colonial measures was to encourage western settlers to remain and therefore create a buffer or boundary between the French and Indians and the more eastern settlements . The first two colonial forts built were Ashby’s and Cocke’s Forts along Patterson Creek, a tributary of the Potomac, in far northwestern Virginia (now West Virginia) during October 1755. Virginia Regiment troops also garrisoned Fort Cumberland, which was constructed in spring 1755 following orders from Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia and Lt. Gov. Horatio Sharpe of Maryland (Ansel 1995:63). At this same time, individual settlers, especially prominent ones, began fortifying their own homes in an attempt to defend themselves and their neighbors. One of these fortified homes was Joseph Edwards’s Fort along the Cacapon River in present Hampshire County, West Virginia. While it is known from orders, recommendations, and archaeology that the Virginia Regiment forts were, or were supposed to be, rather academic four- or 140 · W. Stephen McBride two-bastioned square or rectangular forts, we have no detailed descriptions of the private forts and therefore have little idea of what they looked like or, perhaps more importantly, what their builders’ idea of a fort was. For instance, since Joseph Edwards does not appear to have had any military background, what was the source of his knowledge of fort design? Did he learn about forts from books, neighbors, or experience on the frontier, or did British or Germanic settlers include fort design and construction as part of their broad cultural toolkit? Wooden stockaded forts had been built in Virginia and other American colonies since the earliest European settlement. Stone castles and towers were common in the British Isles from medieval times, and the construction of stone fortifications was part of the British colonization of Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (St. George 1990). Horizontal log blockhouses were part of the architectural heritage of both Germany and Scandinavia (Jordan 1985:75). The archaeological investigations of Edwards’s Fort were directed toward answering these questions: Was it an academic, rectangular bastioned fort, or more irregular? Was it strongly stockaded, simply fenced, or just an individual blockhouse? How were Edwards’s house and outbuildings incorporated into the fort, if they were at all? Also, were additional militia or military structures or activity areas present in the fort during the time that it was garrisoned? Another research area to be investigated is related to material culture and daily activities at the fort. What do artifacts and features tell us about these activities, and can we separate civilian and military activity areas? Before addressing these archaeological questions, more historical context of the site is necessary to set the stage. Historical Context Joseph Edwards’s original 400-acre settlement tract on the Cacapon River was first surveyed on 3 May 1748 by surveyor James Genn and conveyed to him on 26 May 1748. Edwards had already settled this property, however . Exactly how many years before is unclear, but he may have been there as early as 1738, when he appears in Orange County, Virginia, records (Quisenberry and Munske 2003:24). In May 1742, Joseph Edwards and Phillip Babbs were appointed as overseers of the road from James Caudy’s [adjacent to Edwards’s property on Cacapon] to Parkins Mill (Quisenberry and Munske 2003:25). So it is likely that Edwards had settled the fort property by this time. In 1751, Edwards was appointed justice of the peace for Frederick County, Archaeology of Edwards’s Fort, Capon Bridge, West Virginia · 141 a powerful local political position (Frederick County Order Book 4:101; Gruber 1999). Hampshire County was carved out of Frederick in 1754. He acquired an additional 1,239 acres between 1750 and 1762 (Gruber 1999). By the mid-eighteenth century Joseph and his wife, Sarah, had four children...


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