Chapter 4A


Chapter 1
Chapter 2A
Chapter 2B
Chapter 2C
Chapter 3A
Chapter 3B
Chapter 4A
Chapter 4B
Chapter 5A
Chapter 5B
Chapter 6
Chapter 7


Chapter Four (Part A)
Summary of Excavations at Sudley Post Office


Two goals directed the excavations carried out at Sudley Post Office: 1) to identify, evaluate, and sample any archeological resources that might be impacted by the emergency stabilization of Sudley Post Office; and 2) to clear an area for a proposed utility corridor to the southwest of the structure (Potter 1997).  Along with the need to mitigate the destruction of archeological resources, excavations were also carried out to answer the following questions: 1) to determine the construction date of the structure at Sudley Post Office; 2) to find the location of outbuildings at the site, especially the kitchen and John Thornberry’s wheelwright shop; and 3) to obtain a representative collection from each of the three household occupations at Sudley to facilitate a comparison of material conditions at the site through time.

Excavation Strategy

In order to achieve these goals, testing at Sudley Post Office was carried out in a three-stage process of shovel test pits, test units (2.5 x 2.5 ft), and data recovery units (5 x 5 ft).  Shovel test pits were first excavated to locate artifact concentrations and features in the vicinity of the structure and in the surrounding landscape.  These shovel test pits were placed on 25 ft grid intervals.  Test units were placed in the immediate vicinity of the structure and the yard where ground-disturbing activities will be necessary to stabilize the foundation and also in the area of the proposed utility corridor.  In addition, test units were placed in areas of the yard that had the potential for containing significant cultural materials.  These units were placed based on the results of the STP's and visual inspection of the ground surface.  Finally, data recovery units were excavated in areas where test units revealed potentially significant cultural resources.

A total of 29 excavation units were opened during fieldwork at Sudley.  Seventeen of the units were 2.5 x 2.5 ft units, two excavation units were 3 x 5 ft excavation units, and 12 were 5 x 5 ft units.  Two of the 5x5 ft excavation units (Units 10 and 11) were expanded from 2.5x2.5 ft test units. Most of the units were placed in the eastern yard and around the perimeter of the structure.  All units were aligned to a grid laid out along the north-south axis of the Sudley Post Office structure.  Units were labeled in sequential order as they were excavated.  Strata were excavated using natural stratigraphy and were designated by capital letters (A, B, C, D, ...).  Strata thicker than 0.5 ft were separated based on arbitrary 0.5 ft increments and were designated by capital alphanumeric characters (A1, A2, A3, ...).  Features were sequentially numbered in the same manner as units.  Strata within features were designated by lower case letters (1a, 1b, 1c). and when the thickness exceeded 0.5 ft were designated by alphanumeric characters (1a1, 1a2, 1a3,  etc.).

All units were excavated using trowels and shovel skimming.  All soil was screened through Ľ inch mesh and all artifacts were saved, excluding brick and mortar.  All artifacts were washed, labeled and catalogued at Manassas National Battlefield Park and the Archeology Lab at the University of Maryland, College Park.  Artifacts, photographs, and field notes are stored at the Museum Research Center (MRCE) in Lanham, Maryland.  Elevations were taken in relation to the stone patio feature surrounding the well pump housing located 15 ft from the southeast corner of the Sudley Post Office structure.  The elevation above mean sea level (amsl) was obtained from a map of Sudley Post Office in McGarry’s Historic Sites Survey and measured 197.86 ft amsl.

The artifact assemblages were catalogued using the Automated National Cataloging System (ANCS).  Minimal vessel analysis was not performed on the assemblage since the sherd size and quantity were deemed insufficient.

Stratigraphic Analysis

There were four zones of testing performed at Sudley Post Office: in and around the perimeter of the foundation of the structure, the yard, the potential area of the wheelwright shop, and the prehistoric site located south of the impact area.  Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16, and 21 were placed within and around the perimeter of the foundation (Figure 4.1).  These units were designed to assess and sample any resources that would be impacted by the excavation of footers for the stabilization of the foundation.  Units 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19 20, 22, 23, 24, 27 and 29 were placed in the yard.  The majority of these units were located in the eastern yard of the structure, and were designed to assess and sample any resources that might be impacted from construction activities associated with the stabilization of the structure.  Units 25 and 26 were located downslope and to the west of the structure (Figure 4.2).  These units were designed to assess archeological deposits associated with the wheelwright shop.  Excavation Unit 28 was located 265 ft south-southeast from the structure (Figure 4.3).  This unit was placed to test a concentration of prehistoric material located during the STP survey of the site.  The strata encountered at Sudley Post Office were divided into seven megastrata used for interpreting the various occupation episodes (Table 4.1).  Megastratum III was broken into three categories as these deposits represented distinct deposits with unique interpretive potential.  Megastratum IV was also broken into two categories as the wheelwright shop and domestic deposits were unique contexts.

Table 4.2 provides a further refinement of the megastratum into unique site strata encountered during excavation.  For purposes of this report however, strata encountered at Sudley Post Office are summarized at the level of megastratum groupings.

Park Service (Megastratum I)

Stratigraphy.  Megastratum I is located throughout the site and consists of accumulated organics and cultural materials from the past thirty years. This layer contains materials from Park Service occupation and use of the yard and structure.  Megastratum I ranges in color from a very dark greyish brown (10YR3/2) to a dark brown (7.5YR3/2) and is a silty loam.

Features.  Feature 1 is a rodent burrow excavated in Excavation Unit 5. The soil in this feature is a dark yellowish brown loamy silt.  It measures 2.5 ft east-west and 0.65 ft north-south.  Feature 1 was found at a depth of 199.66 ft amsl and continued for another 0.07 ft.  The feature was immediately adjacent to the northern foundation of the Sudley Post Office structure.

Artifacts. Megastratum I contained 23 ceramic sherds.  Nearly half of these sherds are whiteware (43%, n=10).  Hard paste whiteware (17%, n=4), porcelain (13%, n=3), unglazed earthenware (17%, n=4), stoneware (4%, n=1) and common creamware (4%, n=1) make up the rest of the assemblage.  The majority of these sherds are tableware related (78%, n=18).  The remainder of the ceramic assemblage consists of utilitarian stonewares (13%, n=3) and unidentified ceramic (9%, n=2).

A total of 167 glass artifacts were recovered from Megastratum I.  The majority of these artifacts are container glass (45%, n=75) and window glass (flat glass) (42%, n=70).  The remainder of the glass assemblage consists of lighting-related sherds (4.2%, n=7), tableware (1%, n=2), an eyeglass fragment (.5%), and unidentified sherds (7%, n=12).

Only 130 nails were recovered from Megastratum I.  Machine cut nails (n=69) are the majority of the nail assemblage, followed by wire nails (n=46), and nails of indeterminate manufacture (n=15).  A percussion cap and three ammunition cartridge cases (.22 caliber) are also associated with Megastratum I.

A total of 22 bones were recovered from Megastratum I.  The majority of these bones were mammal (95%, n=21) with only one fish bone (5%).   Only one of the mammal bones contains saw marks.

There are three lithic artifacts from Megastratum I.  These include two rhyolite flakes and a single quartz lithic shatter.

Woodward Household (Megastratum II)

Stratigraphy.  Megastratum II was located in the immediate vicinity of the foundation of Sudley Post Office and underlay Megastratum I.  These deposits contain materials from the restoration of the structure in the 1930s and landscaping that occurred in the 1940s and 1950s Megastratum II ranges in color from a dark brown (10YR3/3 and 7.5YR4/4) to a yellowish brown (10YR5/6).  The range in soil color and textures is due to range in deposition zones from topsoil to subsoil disturbed from plantings.  Much of the artifact assemblage in Megastrata II is material from the Davis household that was disturbed from ground-disturbing activities of the Woodwards.  This disturbed strata is included in Megastrata III (Davis household) only when mid-to-late twentieth century materials were not encountered.

Features.  Feature 5 is a dry-laid flagstone paving that sits adjacent to the Sudley Post Office structure to the east and north.  The paving exists in Excavation Units 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, and 13.  It lay immediately below the sod and ranged in depth from 198.44 ft amsl to 200.5 ft amsl.  The thickness of the stones is on average 0.2 ft.

Features 1, 2, 13, 19, 23, and 29 are planting stains from the Woodward’s landscaping activities.  These planting features were encountered in Excavation Units 4, 5, 7, 22, and 23.  These features were located adjacent to the Sudley Post Office structure where photographs show the majority of the plantings being concentrated.  The average top depth of these features was 199.31 ft amsl and closed out on average at 199.12 ft amsl (see Table 4.3).  Feature 15 in Excavation Unit 11 was also a planting stain.  However, since it intruded into Megastratum III.b, the artifacts recovered from this feature are grouped with Megastratum III.b.

Feature 32 was a privy shaft encountered in the northern portion of Excavation Unit 24 (Figure 4.4).  Feature 32 was first encountered at 203.18 ft amsl and went to a depth of 200.08 ft amsl.  The soils of Feature 32 consisted of a yellowish brown (10YR5/6) silty clay.  When the present privy hole was dug, the soil from the excavation was used to backfill the earlier privy hole (Feature 32). The soils within this feature contained asphalt shingling material and wire nails; these materials are probably associated with the construction of the present  privy.  There was a layer of ash located at the bottom of Feature 32 which contained eggshells and charred wood.  The absence of night soils at the bottom of this feature might be due to Excavation Unit 24 only coming down on the southern lip of the privy hole.  Time did not permit further testing of this feature since it was outside the immediate impact area.  The remaining northern portion of this feature might be deeper and might contain the expected night soils.

Artifacts.  The majority of the 84 ceramic sherds recovered from Megastratum II are whiteware (48%, n=41).  The remainder are hard paste whiteware (15%, n=13), unglazed earthenware (15%, n=13), porcelain (8%, n=7), pearlware (6%, n=5), Bristol slipped stoneware (3%, n=3), and gray paste stoneware (2%, n=2).

Megastratum II yielded 614 glass artifacts.  Given the location of Megastratum II in close proximity to the house, it is not surprising that the majority of these artifacts are window or flat glass (68%, n=420).  The remainder of the glass assemblage consists of container fragments (21%, n=129), light accessories (3.5%, n=22), tableware (1.5%, n=9), and unidentified glass (5.5%, n=34).

Five hundred and seventy-five nails were located in Megastratum II.  While a large portion of these nails are unidentifiable (42%, n=244), half of the identifiable nails are machine cut (29%, n=168) and the other half are wire (28%, n=163).  Other metal artifacts include five cartridge cases for .22 caliber bullets, an axe, a round file, and an unidentified iron buckle.  The majority of these nails were probably deposited when the clapboarding from the structure was removed during the 1930s restoration.  Personal items include eight buttons (one shell, four iron, one milk glass, and one copper), and a snap.

Twelve mammal bones were recovered from Megastratum II.

There are six lithic materials from Megastratum II.  These include two quartzite flakes, three pieces of quartz shatter, and a chunk of quartzite.

Davis Household, Yard Scatter (Megastratum III.a)

Stratigraphy. Megastratum III.a. contains yard scatter from the Davis household and is located adjacent to the Sudley Post Office structure.  Megastratum III.a underlays Megastratum II and in most areas overlays subsoil.  This stratum contains a dark yellowish brown (10YR4/4) silty clay.  The average top elevation measures 198.33 ft amsl with an average closing depth of 198.11 ft amsl.

Features.  Feature 12 was located to the east of the Sudley Post Office structure in Excavation Unit 15.  This feature was completely excavated, and consisted of a brick rubble pile underlain by a laid brick base (Figure 4.5).  The brick rubble was taken off in separate strata from the laid brick base.  Intermixed in the brick rubble was a gray 7.5YR5/1 silty ash.  There was a concentration of nails within this ashy rubble (138) overlaying the laid brick base.  The brick base measures 3 x 3 ft and was 198.08 ft amsl.  The laid brick base contained two tiers of dry-laid bricks and was oriented with the axis of the house.  The center of the feature contained loose brick bats that overlay subsoil.  This brick feature was possibly used as a boiling stand for laundry or for other domestic purposes.

Feature 18 is located in the northeastern corner of Excavation Unit 19.  The feature is very shallow, encountered at 196.36 ft amsl and bottoming out at 196.26 ft amsl.  The soils within the feature are a brown (10YR4/2) compact clay.  The southern edge of the root cellar feature is within the five feet between Unit 19 and Unit 10 (where the root cellar was encountered).  While a contiguous unit was not opened between Excavation Unit 19 and Excavation Unit 10 in the root cellar to determine the relation between feature 18 and the root cellar, Feature 18 might be a wash leading into the root cellar.  This wash might have resulted from the structure partially collapsing, and rains washing soils down onto the top of the exposed root cellar.

Artifacts.  Close to half of the 68 ceramic sherds  recovered from Megastratum III.a are hard-paste whiteware (41%, n=28).  Whiteware (34%, n=23) makes up a large portion of the remainder of the assemblage with porcelain (16%, n=11) being the next greatest in quantity.  The remainder of the assemblage consists of Albany-slipped stoneware (6%, n=4), gray-paste stoneware (3%, n=2), and common creamware (1%, n=1).

Nine hundred and fifty glass artifacts were recovered from Megastratum III.a. Since the majority of deposits from Megastratum III.a were adjacent to the east wall of the structure, the bulk of the glass is window or flat glass (67%, n=634).  Container glass comprises the next most prevalent category (27%, n=236) followed by lighting accessories (2.3%, n=25), tableware (1%, n=9), and unidentified glass (3%, n=29).

Of the 707 nails recovered from Megastratum III.a, two thirds of the identifiable nails are machine cut (n=227) and one third are wire (n=125).  The remainder of the nails are unidentifiable due to long-term exposure in the yard (n=355).  Sixteen .22 caliber cartridge casings were recovered along with a .38 caliber cartridge case and a 12 gauge shotgun shell.  Various hardware including five sheet-metal screws, five wood screws, four washers, four nuts, and a door-lock strike plate are present in these yard deposits.

Personal items recovered from Megastratum III.a include eight buttons (five glass, one shell, one bone and one fabric-covered iron button), a copper cufflink, a copper clothing fastener, a shoe eyelet, six harmonica fragments, and a suspender stud.  A 1906 Indian Head penny was located in the yard deposits.  Toys recovered from Megastratum III.a include three porcelain doll fragments.  A graphite fragment for a pencil was also recovered from Megastratum III.a.

Of the 35 bones recovered from Megastratum III.a., the majority were mammal (73%, n=26).  The remainder were chicken bones (14%, n=5) and one turtle bone (3%).

A rhyolite flake is the sole lithic material recovered from Megastratum III.a.

Davis Household, Downslope Midden (Megastratum III.b)

Stratigraphy. Megastratum III.b is associated with the Davis household’s downslope midden deposits.  These deposits are on the eastern side of the structure on the slope approaching Bull Run.    Excavation units (E.U. 11, 22 and 27) were positioned on the westernmost portion of this midden in an area where the slope showed potential for retention of stratified deposits (Figure 4.6).  Excavation Unit 27 is the easternmost and most downslope of these units and consisted of mixed deposits.  The upper strata, Unit Strata A and B, of these units contain discrete deposits dating to the Davis occupation.  Lower strata, however, are mixed  mid-nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century deposits. The soils of these units range from a dark yellowish brown (10YR3/4 and 10YR4/4) silty clay to a yellowish brown (10YR5/4) loamy clay.  The average top elevation is 196.44 ft amsl with an average bottom depth of 196.12 ft amsl.

In addition, strata deposited on top of the kitchen rubble (10.A, 20.A, 18.A) are also grouped with Megastratum III.b (Figure 4.7).  These strata contain materials dating to the Davis occupation and consisted of fill deposited from elsewhere on the site.  The association of these deposits is based on both the time frame indicated by the  materials and matching decalomania sherds present in these deposits and downslope deposits.  The Woodwards had placed this material on top of the kitchen rubble to fill the depression left by the root cellar.  The soils in this area of the site consist of a very dark greyish brown (10YR3/2) silty clay.  The average top elevation is 196.57 ft amsl and average 0.27 ft in depth.

Artifacts.  Well over half of the 429 ceramic sherds found in Megastratum III.b are whiteware (60%, n=258).  Other ceramics recovered are hard paste whiteware (16%, n=69), porcelain (8%, n=38), common creamware (2.5%, n=11), and pearlware (0.4%, n=2).  The remainder of the ceramics included glazed earthenware (1.1%, n=5), grey paste stoneware (8%, n=35), Albany slipped stoneware (1%, n=4) and Bristol slipped stoneware (1%, n=7).

A total of 2,841 glass artifacts were recovered from Megastratum III.b.  The majority of the glass assemblage consists of container glass (29%, n=830) followed by window or flat glass (25%, n=724).  Scorched stained glass window fragments were recovered (7%, n=197) that most likely came from the remains of the 1919 Sudley Methodist Church fire.  The remainder of the assemblage consists of lighting accessories (5.4%, n=155), tableware (3.5%, n=100), a medicine dropper fragment, and unidentified glass fragments (3.9%, n=110).

A wide variety of metal artifacts were recovered from Megastratum III.b, including a large quantity of nails that were recovered from the downslope area (n=2296).  Of these nails, over half of the identifiable portion (n=1196) are machine cut (51%, n=605) and the remainder are wire (49%, n=591).  Various furniture-related materials recovered include a caster, a clock part, eight escutcheon plates, one lock plate, and one upholstery tack.  Architectural items included a door knob, a key hole plate,  a door lock plate, two drawer pulls, six hinges, 17 wood screws, and 11 metal screws.  At the bottom of Megastratum III.b and in close association with Megestratum V, a reinforced cock for a flintlock musket and a pulled Garner mini-ball were found. 

Personal items from Megastratum III.b include a watch part, a pocketknife, 13 harmonica fragments, a necklace, 66 buttons (9 bone, 20 shell, 5 copper, 6 iron, 20 milk glass, three mother-of-pearl, a porcelain, and a Bakelite), three copper cufflinks, six suspender fasteners, and two copper clothing fasteners.   Toys recovered from Megastratum III.b include five clay marbles, four porcelain doll fragments, three porcelain tea set fragments, a pewter spout to a toy teapot, and a cupric alloy spoon.

A total of 296 bone fragments were recovered from Megastratum III.b.  Mammal bones make up over half of the fragments (64%, n=192), followed by small mammal/bird (34%, n=100), and fish (2%, n=4).  There are no bones with saw or butcher marks in the assemblage.

There are 16 lithic materials from Megastratum III.b.  These include five quartz chunks, four pieces of quartz shatter, a quartz biface, two quartz flakes, and two fire cracked rock (fcr).

Davis Household, Root Cellar/Kitchen (Megastratum III.c)

Stratigraphy.  Megastratum III.c contains materials related to the rubble fall from the kitchen and the upper portion of the underlying root cellar.  The rubble fall from the kitchen consists of rock rubble from the chimney fall intermixed with the sheet metal from the roof of the kitchen.  This rubble is present in Excavation Units 10, 18, and 20.  The soil matrix (stratum B) mixed with the rubble ranges from a strong brown (7.5YR4/6) silty clay to a dark yellowish brown (10YR3/4) clayey loam.  The average top elevation of this rubble is 196.24 ft amsl and continues to an average depth of 195.79 ft amsl.  In Excavation Units 10 and 20 this rubble is underlain by a wash  (feature 17) described below in the feature section.  Below this wash is the root cellar fill, also described below.

Features.  Feature 17 is a wash deposit characterized by a dark yellowish brown (10YR3/4) silty clay.  This wash was deposited in the early twentieth century after the kitchen had been abandoned and before it collapsed.  The average top elevation of this wash is 195.31 ft amsl and it continued to an average depth of 195.15 ft amsl.  Underlying Feature 17 are root cellar deposits (Strata C-G in unit 10, and D-E in Excavation Unit 20)  consisting of materials dating to the Davis occupation.  These strata have an average top elevation of 194.88 ft amsl and went down, on average, to 194.61 ft amsl.  The soils of this matrix are a dark yellowish brown (10YR3/4) that range in texture from a compact clay to a silty clay and contain broken bedrock chunks.

Feature 22 is located in the eastern portion of Excavation Unit 10.  The feature is 3.5 ft  north-south and 2.5 ft east-west.  This feature is the top portion of Feature 25 (Megastratum IV) and was excavated separately due to the presence of early twentieth-century materials.  The soils of this feature are a dark yellowish brown (10YR3/4) silty clay with bedrock fragments.  The depth of this feature begins at 194.3 ft amsl and ends at 193.8 ft amsl.

Artifacts.  The majority of the 252 ceramic sherds recovered from Megastratum III.c are whiteware (45%, n=114).   Hard paste whiteware (19%, n=49) represents the next most abundant ceramic type.  The remainder of the ceramics consist of porcelains (16%, n=43), glazed earthenwares (3%, n=7), pearlware (1%, n=3), Albany slipped stoneware (n=5%, 13), Bristol glazed stoneware (6%, n=16), gray paste stoneware (3%, n=10), and yellowware (0.3%, n=1).

Over half of the 1311 glass artifacts recovered from Megastatum III.c are container sherds (62%, n=817).  The remainder of the glass assemblage is window or flat glass (22%, n=287), lighting accessories (8%, n=111), tableware (4.4%, n=60), and unidentified glass fragments (2.8%, n=36).

Personal items recovered from Megastratum III.c include 40 buttons (14 shell, two copper, one iron, 21 milk glass, and one pewter), three copper buckles, various shoe fragments, nine suspender fasteners (five part iron and copper, three iron and one copper), a cufflink, a jewelry pendant, shoe parts (135) and a pocket knife.  Of the 187 clothing and shoe related artifacts recovered from the kitchen area, only 17 were located in the root cellar mix.  The remainder were located in the rubble from the kitchen.  This suggests the storage/repair of clothing related items in the kitchen by the Davis household.

There were a wide variety of metal artifacts recovered from Megastratum III.c, primarily consisting of hardware related to the collapsed kitchen structure.  Of the metal objects recovered, nails are the most numerous.  The 925 nails consist of machine cut nails (43.5%, n=403), wire nails (16%, n=152), a wrought nail (<1%), and nails of unknown manufacture (40%, n=369).  Architectural materials include a pintle, 18 hinge fragments, four hooks, a large hook (possibly used for hanging a pot over a fire), and a keyhole plate.  Housewares include a copper lamp burner, a clock gear, a copper drawer pull, and stove parts.  Tools include an iron hoe, two thimbles, a pair of scissors, a bastard file, and a flat iron.  Along with these metal goods, a large number of iron cans were recovered (110 fragments).  The cans were scattered throughout the fill of the root cellar and  might have contained foodstuffs.  Three wagon hubs were recovered from Megastratum III.c.  One is hand wrought and consists of four retaining rings and a center hub flange.  The other two hubs are machine made with threaded interiors.  Eighteen .22 caliber cartridge cases were also found in Megastratum III.c.  Militaria include a fired three ringed .54 caliber minie ball, a carved minie ball, a fired .69 caliber musket ball, an unfired .69 caliber musket ball, an unfired .54 roundball with a molding sprew, buck shot, one iron cannister shot, a percussion cap, and a two-piece Michigan state seal button.  The majority of these militaria were recovered within the rubble fall from the kitchen (Site Stratum H) suggesting their presence within or beneath the standing kitchen structure.  Given their context, these militaria might have been items or mementoes lost or stored within the kitchen.  Another possible explanation for the presence of these items involves the use of Sudley Post Office as a field hospital during the First Battle of Manassas.

Toys found in Megastratum III.b include two marbles (glass and ball clay), 13 porcelain doll fragments, and  four porcelain toy dish fragments.  Interestingly, ten of the 13 porcelain doll fragments were located in the root cellar fill while the remainder of doll parts and other toys were located in the rubble from the kitchen structure.  This differentiation suggests the toys were lost in the kitchen while the porcelain doll parts somehow found their way into the redeposited subsoil of the root cellar.  Writing implements include a fragment of a slate board, a slate pencil, and two copper pencil tops.

Of the 217 bone fragments recovered from Megastratum III.c, close to 90% were mammal (88%, n=191) followed by bird/small mammal (11%, n=23).  A turtle bone (1%) was also recovered from Megastratum III.c.  Five of the mammal bones from Megastratum III.c contained saw marks.

There are eight lithic materials from Megastratum III.c.  These include three quartz shatters, a quartz and quartzite flake, a quartz Halifax Point, and a banded rhyolite Susquehanna Broadspear Point.

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