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Fort Roy?

A letter written long ago and stored in the Swem Library at the College of William and Mary has shed additional light on the history of Mathews County’s Fort Nonsense. It seems that the original name of the facility was Fort Roy, and that the building of it divided the counties of Gloucester and Mathews.

Becky Barnhardt, head of genealogy and family research services at Mathews Memorial Library, found the letter recently while she was doing personal research, and she shared the find with members of the Mathews County Historical Society during a meeting last Friday. The letter was written by William H. Clarke, an engineer for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, on Feb. 5, 1862, while he was in charge of building defense fortifications at Smart’s Mill on the Gloucester-Mathews county line.

The letter, which is difficult to read because it was written on both sides of the paper and the ink bled through, was included in the Galt papers at the library and is written to ...

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