Fort McCoy was attacked the following day. Militiamen from Renick were summoned to help the Sinking Creek Valley settlers repel the attack. McCoy was not at his fort at the time of the attack, since he was part of a militia force sent to assist the militiamen at Fort Donnally.
The only written account of the attack that McBride could find says only that the raid resulted in "a great loss of life," but doesn't spell out which side suffered the loss.
Gunflints and musket balls are among artifacts that have been unearthed at Fort McCoy. Other items include fragments of creamware china made in Staffordshire, England, during the early 1760s, a copper spoon, glassware, wrought-iron nails, bones, part of a ceramic pipe, hinges and a folding knife. The fort's foundation stones and fireplace hearths at opposite ends of the building are among features that have been unearthed.
Also discovered at the site were a number of Indian artifacts dating back thousands of years before the attack, including an undamaged, perfectly symmetrical spear point unearthed Tuesday.
"The McCoys weren't the only people attracted to this place by the spring," McBride said.
A volunteer crew of professional archaeologists helped Kim McBride and her archaeologist husband, Steve, oversee work by eighth-graders from Eastern Greenbrier and Western Greenbrier middle schools. Among them was Jacob Ramsay, who grew up in the Williamsburg area and is now an archaeologist for the Monongahela National Forest.
"When I was a kid, I was always finding arrowheads and hearing stories about the forts," Ramsay said. While a fifth-grade student, he visited Arbuckle's Fort, north of Alderson, which the McBrides were then excavating.
"Later on, I went through [archaeology] field school with the McBrides, and now I'm back in Williamsburg as an adult, having kids come out and learn about their history," Ramsay said. "It's a neat circle."
"We hope the kids learn a little about archaeology and about the history of the area," Kim McBride said. "A lot of them had relatives who 'forted-up' somewhere in the Greenbrier Valley during the 18th century."
"It's so fascinating to see what's happened to the family homestead," said Sue Miles of Morgantown, a fifth great-granddaughter of William McCoy who visited the dig site Tuesday. "I can imagine the feeling of relief people must have felt when they reached a safe place like this when the raids were taking place."
After age-damaged timbers from the fort are replaced, Fort McCoy will be reassembled and become the focal point of a roadside historic display maintained by the Williamsburg District Historic Foundation.
Last week's excavation work was funded through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.