This weekend we were honored to have a very special guest visit Byrnside’s Fort. Dr. Ron Ripley is a renowned local historian who authored the fort’s National Register of Historic Places nomination back in 1993. In fact, this is all we knew about the property prior to beginning the project in early 2019. In the materials he prepared, he theorized about the log structure inside the old plaster walls, none of which was visible. On Sunday he got to see the logs with all the plaster removed, as well as check out many of the artifacts and relics we found. We had been waiting a long time to show him everything. It was pretty special.
My metal detecting buddy Bill Burns found this scrap of iron near the cave spring at Byrnside’s Fort. After finding it, he set it on top of a fence post, believing it to be farm junk. After noticing it on top of the fence about a year later, I immediately suspected this to be an early “Betty Lamp,” a type of grease-based lighting device. Basically an iron lamp with a bowl for some type of grease for fuel, a lid of some sort, and a spot for a wick. The shape is right. You can see that there was a hollow reservoir at some point, with a hinged lid. You can see the remnants of the curved upright handle, which would hang on an iron hanger of some sort. This would have been forged out of wrought iron by a blacksmith, and would be consistent with the lighting options available at Byrnside’s Fort during the fort occupation of the site, circa 1770-1782. It also could have been early 19th century. But it’s primitive construction suggests earlier, to me.
Here’s a long-overdue update on the Byrnside’s Fort preservation project. Almost all the plaster is off the log walls and ceilings. The logs, as well as the downstairs ceilings, were cleaned by pressure washer. It’s been a few days of drying since these photos were taken, and it has turned out nicely.
The attack on Quebec was a failure. They encountered bad weather, which delayed their arrival until mid-October. By this time, None of the forces ever came within a kilometer of the city walls. Several of the ships were damaged by cannon fire from the city. They Count Frontenac, the Governor General of New France, had assembled around 2,700 defenders. The fleet suffered brutal cold weather and smallpox had broken out. Accomplishing nothing, they gave up and headed home, up the St. Lawrence and out to sea. But their misfortunes continued. They encountered storms, separating the fleet and blowing some off-course as far as the West Indies. Four of the ships were wrecked, with two companies of men completely lost.
“Spontoon” style pipe tomahawks are perhaps the earliest style of pipe tomahawk, which itself is a truly North American invention arising from the clash of cultures and power converging in 18th century colonial America. Early europeans arriving in the new world commonly carried pole-arms with them, which were relics-themselves from European battlefields and the old manners of waging war.
Believed to have borrowed the name of the French city of Bayonne, the bayonet rose to prominence as a vital military weapon during the last half of the 17th c. Arriving in Virginia in the 1670s, the first of the type are referred to as “plug” bayonets, being little more than daggers with tapered handles which were “plugged” into the muzzles of the muskets. Earlier iron-mounted examples were quickly replaced by cast-brass hilted bayonets by the late 1680s, and all were obsolete shortly thereafter.