The discovery calls into question long-held speculation that the structures could possibly have been constructed on a Revolutionary War site.
Barnhardt recently briefed members of the Mathews County Historical Society board of directors on her findings. Barnhardt reported that she found records showing that the fortifications were built by members of the 61st Regiment Virginia Militia, also called Matthews Battalion, between December 1861 and March 1862. The records were contained in "Fold3," a digital resource providing access to U.S. military records as well as stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.
Among the men identified as working on the fortification, said the release, were William H. Clarke, a 2nd Lt. Assistant Engineer at Gloucester who was in charge of the construction, and William D. Soles, employed as "overlooker on defensive works at Smarts Mill."
Clarke, Barnhardt said, was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, a lieutenant of the Provisional Army of Virginia, and served not only as an engineer but also as an ordnance officer under Brig. Gen. E.A. Perry and Brig. Gen. J. Finegan. He was also a teacher and a farmer.