Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Plans Made to Excavate Civil War POW Camp

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA—Archaeologist Chester DePratter of the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology is determined to excavate Camp Asylum, a state mental hospital where 1,200 officers were held for two months during the end of the Civil War, before the property is handed over to developers. Its brick walls surrounded the barracks, tents, and even shallow holes in which the men slept. “There’s going to be personal items that were owned by the officers and lost: Buttons, pocket knives, identification badges, uniform insignia,” he said. The prisoners also probably made craft items, and they were able to purchase things that they needed from traveling salesmen. The men had access to fresh water and medical care, and only one of them is known to have died while the camp was operating. “We have a camp that’s different from all the others. People weren’t dying like flies,” DePratter added.