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Discover Jamestown Island's Role during the Civil War

Explore Fort Pocahontas and the Confederate Bomb Shelter

April 18, 2012

Senior Staff Archaeologist Dave Givens Explaining the Civil War Bombproof
Senior Staff Archaeologist Dave Givens Explaining the Civil War Bombproof
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Spend a special evening at Historic Jamestowne and explore the story of Fort Pocahontas, one of five forts constructed on Jamestown Island during the Civil War. Join Jamestown Rediscovery senior archaeologist Dave Givens as he discusses the most recent excavations of a Confederate bomb shelter and other fascinating findings from Fort Pocahontas at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 3.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Capt. William Allen owned and farmed Jamestown Island. In April 1861, Allen's slaves and troops raised at his own expense built much of the earthworks that became "Fort Pocahontas." The Confederate Army stationed more than 1,200 men there in the summer of 1861 in hopes of blocking Federal ships from moving up the James River toward Richmond, the capital and industrial center of the Confederacy.

Along with numerous Civil War artifacts, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Confederate bomb shelter and powder magazine that were part of the fort. Archaeologists first explored the fort and earthworks in 2004-05. Last summer, the archaeologists uncovered sand bag markings and wooden beams that supported the roof of the bomb shelter. The shelter was about 12 feet wide and at least 18 feet long.

The fort never came under attack, but soil markings and numerous nails pointing downward indicate the shelter collapsed at some point. The fort was abandoned without a fight on May 3, 1862, and the troops retreated to a position nearer Richmond after burning the powder magazines and gun carriages.

Tickets are $24.95. In addition to the tour, guests will enjoy a Carrot Tree picnic dinner by the James River at the Dale House Café. Space is limited and reservations are required. Please call 1-800-HISTORY to make reservations.

The Civil War evening program is presented jointly by Historic Jamestowne and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (on behalf of Preservation Virginia) and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

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