Archaeologists find 18th-century store (NY)





FORT EDWARD, N.Y. - This history-rich Hudson River community has yielded a museum's worth of 18th-century military artifacts over the decades, from musket balls to human skeletons. But a colonial soldier's daily lot wasn't all fighting and bloodshed. They had their share of down time, and that's where the sutler came in, offering for sale two of the few diversions from frontier duty: alcohol and tobacco.

A five-year-long archaeological project has unearthed the 250-year-old site of a merchant's establishment that sold wine, rum, tobacco and other goods to the thousands of soldiers who passed through this region during the French and Indian War, when Fort Edward was the largest British military post in North America.

Sutler, derived from the Dutch word for someone who performs dirty work, was the name given to the merchants who arrived on the heels of the British army and sold what the redcoats wouldn't — or couldn't — provide at a frontier outpost. With the permission of military officials, sutlers set up shop near a fort's gates, taking advantage of the isolated location to do a brisk trade with off-duty soldiers and officers.


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