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September 6, 2011

Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeologist Discusses Excavation of Confederate Bomb Shelter

During a special evening program at Historic Jamestowne, guests explore the story of Fort Pocahontas, one of five forts constructed on Jamestown Island during the Civil War and then fast forward to 2011 to learn about recent archaeological excavations at the fort site. The program begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8 and Oct. 6. Carrot Tree Kitchens will cater a picnic dinner.

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. Guests encounter Confederate soldiers who manned the fort in 1861.

Guests 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. Archaeologists first explored the fort and earthworks in 2004-05. This summer, the archaeologists have uncovered sandbag markings and wooden beams that supported the roof of the shelter. The shelter was about 12 feet wide and at least 18 feet long. The fort never came under attack, but soil markings and other archaeological evidence 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 closer to Richmond after burning the powder magazines and gun carriages.

Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for children under age 12. The ticket price includes admission to the program and a picnic dinner which includes a sandwich, a vegetarian option, side salad, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage.

Space is limited and reservations are required. To make reservations, call 1-800-HISTORY.

This program is presented jointly by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Historic Jamestowne.

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.

Visitors to Historic Jamestowne share the moment of discovery with archaeologists and witness archaeology in action at the 1607 James Fort excavation April-October; learn about the Jamestown Rediscovery excavation at the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, the site's archaeology museum; tour the original 17th-century church tower and reconstructed 17th-century Jamestown Memorial Church; and take a walking tour with a Park Ranger through the New Towne area along the scenic James River. For further information, visit or call (757) 229-0412 or (757) 898-2410.

Preservation Virginia, a private non-profit organization and statewide historic preservation leader founded in 1889, is dedicated to perpetuating and revitalizing Virginia's cultural, architectural and historic heritage thereby ensuring that historic places are integral parts of the lives of present and future generations. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121