Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 2 Day 1: The Rise of Team Palisade

After killing a few bugs in Jean’s unit and accidentally wounding a frog, our day began. While Team Bakery continued their excavations, Lee, Emily, Tori, and I (Eleanor), also known as Team Palisade, took a short break from our excavation units in and around the palisade wall and focused on surveying the barracks area. We are looking to excavate a cross section, containing the Spanish mounds of Fort Confederation, the inside of the barracks, and the area behind the barracks. This will give us a good overview of what we might expect from these three areas since we are not able to excavate all of it. Also, by excavating this cross section, we will be able to get a better idea of the architecture of the barracks itself. 

Note: We want to excavate the Spanish mounds, which were built to stop American artillery, because these mounds probably contain parts of the old French fort. 

To put it briefly, Team Palisade became bubble masters. The first step to surveying is to level the surveying tripod on an existing stake, which has already been tied into the map of the fort. Needless to say, the bubble in the level was a source of great frustration. We found ourselves whispering when we were stabilizing the bubble in the level so as not to disturb it as we adjusted the legs of the tripod.

After leveling the tripod directly on the center of the stake, we were then able to begin plotting points. Lee and I input coordinates into the data collector, which is connected to the total station on the tripod. In the picture below, the red circle is pointing out the total station and the yellow circle is highlighting the data collector. 

From there, we would look through the total station at a pole in the barracks area. The total station knows if the pole is at the right point because it shoots a red laser to a prism that is placed on the pole, which shoots back to the total station with a reading. Then, Lee and I would tell Tori and Emily exactly where to move the pole, which they would do with the help of meter sticks.

After a wonderful dinner, Dr. Dumas gave us an overview of the history of Fort Tombecbe as a way to give us a better idea of the significance of the fort to the region. Also it served to tell us how what we are excavating is important in understanding the lives not only of the French and Swiss mercenaries that were stationed at the fort, but also the lives of the Indians and the how they impacted the lives of the Europeans. 

Today is not only Memorial Day, but also the day of the Battle of Ackia (May 26, 1736) the reason for which Fort Tombecbe was built. After the revolt of the Natchez Indians and the destruction of the fort there, the Natchez Indians abandoned their area and sought refuge with the Chickasaws, allies of the British. The French Governor Bienville of Louisiana was planning an attack on the Chickasaws and Natchez Indians with help from more French troops coming from the Illinois country. However, he needed a post further up the Tombigbee River that could supply his troops. Thus, Fort Tombecbe was born. The battle however was a bust for the French. Bienville lost 100 troops, including 27 officers. If you wish to learn more about the general history of site, please go to:

Overall a very productive day at Fort Tombecbe! Tomorrow we will continue plotting points in the barracks area. Even though surveying sounds tedious, it was actually a lot of fun (at least for me!).  

Pest Killer (Eleanor) signing off

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