South Carolina archeologists race to uncover Civil War prison

By Susanne M. Schafer

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 16 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

"Prisoners of war are an example of the extraordinary cost of war. It's not an easy story to tell, and it's not a happy story. But it delves into the consequences of war," Leonard said.

Leonard added that unearthing artifacts is also important to do, since it gives people today a broader picture of the human story that might not jump out of the printed page.

Joe Long, the curator of education for the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, said the prisoners were educated officers, who were more hardened to the elements than people today.

"These were intelligent, skilled men, and they produced some beautiful crafts," Long said. His museum has purchased a pipe carved by one of the prisoners from a hardened root ball of briarwood.

Long added that the waning days of the Civil War have gotten little historical attention, and need to be academically documented.

Long noted that in order to keep their spirits up, the prisoners formed a glee club, and sang for themselves and the local populace.

"The camp commandant had a rule, he told them they could sing all the Yankee songs as they wanted, but they also had to sing a Southern song. So they'd sing 'Battle Hymn of the Republic,' and then they'd sing 'Dixie,'" Long said with a laugh.

Three days before Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's forces entered the city, the men were moved to Charlotte, and then to Wilmington, N.C. Shortly thereafter the war ended, and prisoners on both sides freed.

Information on Camp Asylum Tours: http://www.historiccolumbia.org/Contents/Item/Display/1453?date=02/14/2014

Follow Schafer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/susannemarieap

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