Discovery Made At Columbia's Civil War POW Camp

6:25 PM, Jan 17, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Archaeologists at the site that once held a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War are making more discoveries as they dig.

The digs are happening at the Bull Street campus in Columbia, once home to the state's sole mental health facility.

During the Civil War,however, it was home to about 1,500 Union soldiers captured during battle.

Digs so far have turned up various artifacts, such a button believed to be from around 1854 belonging to the jacket of a Union soldier. There's also a buckle from a pair of suspenders, and a buckle from a nap sack, archaeologists said Friday.

That included possible remnants of warming pits for the soldiers, called "shebang's," that they used to stay warm during winter between Dec. 12, 1864 and Feb. 14, 1865.


"The real story is here in the ground," said Dr. Chester DePratter, a University of South Carolina archaeologist who is heading up the project. 

"When you see a hole in the ground, then you know that two soldiers spent two months in the winter of 1864-'65 in that hole, (and) it brings the story home. It's kind of like reading a travel book about Hawaii, and you go there, and you just don't trust what you memory is, you take pictures, and the pictures are the record and you can look at that. It's just like the archaeology in the ground."

DePratter's team is getting help from a group of archaeologystudents at the University of South Carolina, who will be there once each week over the next 6 weeks, DePratter said.


The digs will continue until the end of April.

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