J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Fort from 1779, a Redcoat from 1799

Here are a couple of eighteenth-century archeology stories from the past month.

The Associated Press reported on a dig in Georgia that located Carr’s Fort, site of a skirmish in February 1779. The article explains:
Robert Carr was a cattle farmer who settled with his wife, children and a single middle-aged female slave in Wilkes County after colonists started arriving there in 1773. Carr also served as captain of a militia company of roughly 100 men. Responsible for leading his militiamen and looking out for their families, Carr built a stockade wall to protect his farmhouse and surrounding property, which included shacks and crude shelters. . . .

In February 1779, about 80 British loyalists marched into Carr's Fort and took control, presumably while Carr and other patriot militiamen were away. Patriots responded quickly by sending 200 men from Georgia and South Carolina to retake the fort.
Dan Elliott’s archeological team found an area that contained old bullets, musket parts, buttons, horseshoes, hinges, and a “coin believed to a King George half-penny from the 1770s.” However, they haven’t found remains of the fort’s walls, and there’s still no evidence of where Carr himself was during the fight over his property.

Across the Atlantic, the B.B.C. reported on a body found in Dutch sand dunes that had been preserved under asphalt for a while before being uncovered again. The artifacts with the body allowed archeologists to connect the remains to a particular British army regiment and expedition:
In August 1799, Britain and Russia launched an invasion of northern Holland in an effort to topple the Batavian Republic and restore the House of Orange. The action formed part of the wars against revolutionary France, which supported the Dutch republic.

The British-Russian armies - including the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, consisting of some 1,000 soldiers - arrived in Groote Keeten under the Duke of York. About 12,000 British soldiers were landed in total. [Archeologist Esther Poulus explains:] “In the Netherlands, they call it the forgotten war - it didn’t take very long, and was quite local.”

The soldier was buried in his uniform, along with several muskets, which may simply have been thrown in the grave to dispose of them, or may have been fashioned into some kind of makeshift stretcher to carry his body to its resting place.

“When we found the buttons he had worn on his tunic, we thought, ‘Wow - we can identify this soldier.’”
The webpage shows not only those buttons but also some of the bones, as shown above.

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