Archaeologists uncover barracks and artifacts in Colonial Williamsburg from America’s first soldiers in the Continental Army

Archaeologists have made an extraordinary discovery in Colonial Williamsburg, finding barracks believed to have been built by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Experts believe that the barracks was constructed between 1776 and 1777 before ultimately being destroyed by the forces of British general Lord Charles Cornwallis in 1781.

The barracks were found during an archaeological excavation of the location identified by the Historic Triangle Recreational Facilities Authority  as the preferred site for a planned regional indoor sports center before the finalization of the project proposal.

This excavation was done in accordance with protocols from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to make sure that valuable archaeological artifacts are not destroyed by new construction.

In the wake of the discovery, the footprint of the sports center was moved to preserve the site for future excavation and research.

“We’ve known about this site for a long time, but we’ve never known exactly where it was. The artifacts found in that initial excavation last summer, combined with extensive research using 18th-century maps, letters, newspapers and other documentation, allow us to say with certainty that we’ve found the Williamsburg barracks,” said Jack Gary of the Council of Virginia Archaeologists, noting that the discovery provides additional information regarding the regular lives of Continental Army soldiers.

“This site is incredibly unique because so few barracks for Continental soldiers from this period have survived in a way that allows them to be studied. The Williamsburg barracks will give us invaluable information about the day-to-day lives of soldiers during the American Revolution,” Gary added

According to the historical data, the barracks was originally designed to be able to accommodate a regiment-sized unit of the Continental Army, numbering at most 1,000 men. At some point in construction, the plans were changed to allow the barracks to accommodate 2,000 soldiers and up to 100 horses.

Excavation site yields valuable 18th century artifacts

The four-acre site is already yielding valuable artifacts that shed light on the daily lives of Continental soldiers. (Related: Researchers discover ruins of lost colonial tavern in North Carolina: Cache of artifacts is a “time capsule” of history.)

Among the items recovered are bricks, an entire chimney base, various gun parts, lead musket balls bearing toothmarks, high-quality ceramics and personal items likely belonging to Continental Army officers.

“Archaeological evidence of continental barracks in Virginia is rare. This site, occupied from 1777 to 1781, is particularly valuable since it was built and utilized solely for military purposes. Moreover, much of the site has remained largely untouched since its destruction,” the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation said in a blog post.

Only a small portion of the site has been excavated up to now, almost certainly guaranteeing that future archaeological work at the site will yield additional discoveries. Archaeologists are already excited about the possibility that the site will help them better understand life in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. causing planners to alter the location of the sports center to guarantee future archaeological work can go on.

Archaeologists are confident about additional discoveries, as the comparatively calm nature of the location promises more understanding into 18th-century military life.

Follow for more stories about lost artifacts around the world.

Watch the video below featuring an animated map of all the major battles of the American Revolutionary War.

This video is from the Great Awakened channel on

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