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Archaeologists believe they’ve uncovered Revolutionary War barracks

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Archaeologists in Virginia have uncovered what is believed to be the remains of a military barracks from the Revolutionary War, including chimney bricks and musket balls indented with soldiers’ teeth.

The site is on the property of Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum that tells the story of the capital of Britain’s Virginia colony in the 18th century.

Maps and documents from the time reference a barracks built between 1776 and 1777 for the Continental army as it fought the British, the museum said in a statement this week. The structure was designed to accommodate up to 2,000 soldiers and 100 horses.

The American Revolution began in 1775. The barracks are thought to have been destroyed in 1781 by troops in the army of British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis. His forces were on their way to the pivotal Battle of Yorktown, where the British suffered great losses and surrendered. The war officially ended in 1783.

Archaeological evidence of continental barracks in Virginia is rare, according to Colonial Williamsburg. This site is particularly valuable because it was used only as a barracks. Plus, a significant portion of the land has been largely undisturbed.

The site was discovered during an archaeological dig required ahead of the construction of a proposed regional sports complex. Its planned footprint has since been shifted to preserve the roughly 3- to 4-acre barracks site.

An initial excavation last summer revealed chimney bases and uncovered a military buckle and lead shot for muskets. Soldiers chewed on the balls because of their sweet taste.

Only a small percentage of the site has been excavated. The museum tells the story of Colonial Williamsburg through interpreters and more than 400 restored or reconstructed buildings. It plans to use the site to tell the story of Williamsburg’s military involvement in the American Revolution and the daily lives of soldiers.

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