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Over the past several years the war has transformed not only the inhabitants of Williamsburg but also its physical environment. In 1777 James Anderson began dramatically expanding his blacksmithing operation into a large Public Armoury complex to support the war effort. He constructed a new Armoury building with four internal forges, as well as several outbuildings—an outdoor forge, a workshop, two storage buildings, a privy, and a well. He also converted an empty tenement into a tinsmithing workshop.
Forty men—gunsmiths, gunstockers, tinsmiths, nail-makers, and blacksmiths—work here to supply and repair materials needed by Virginia’s soldiers. The skilled workers are essential to the operation, but surprisingly many are not American and some are not even free. The diverse workforce includes enslaved African Americans, French gunsmiths, and Scottish Highland prisoners of war—but where do their allegiances lie?