‘Ground-truthing excavations’ give supporting evidence of Confederate Prison’s location

USS ALASKA

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‘Ground-truthing excavations’ give supporting evidence of Confederate Prison’s location
By Mark Wineka
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2019

SALISBURY — Taken individually, the glassware, shards of ceramics, construction materials, cut nails, bones from food remnants and general hardware might not be impressive. But knowing they came from an area where the Salisbury Confederate Prison once stood piques the interest of any historian or archaeologist. In essence, the digging by Cultural Resources Analysts of Richmond, Virginia, substantiated what ground-penetrating radar had shown in 2016 — that the back of the lot probably was part of a portico to a cotton mill that served as barracks for the prison. Both Cobb and Roberts said it was intriguing to think that some of those materials, especially the brick from the old mill, were likely incorporated into buildings that are still in downtown Salisbury. “But we are thrilled that the configuration of the ‘robber trench’ that remains confirms the findings of the previous GPR study — that the old cotton mill was definitely located on the site,” Cobb said. As part of his presentation Thursday night at the Salisbury Station, Roberts talked about the importance of personal recollections and illustrations by prisoners, historical records and the archaeological digs related to the prison that came before his in 1983 and 2005, along with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s GPR work in 2016. This particular excavation was paid for through a $10,000 National Parks Service grant channeled through the State Historic Preservation Office. Historic Salisbury Foundation contributed an additional $7,500. Roberts said the cotton mill came to be owned by Salisbury Manufacturing Co. In 1848, Maxwell Chambers of Salisbury bought the property, and after his death in 1855, ownership eventually went to Davidson College, which ended up selling it to the Confederacy for a prison. From 1856 to 1860, the cotton mill had ceased operations. By 1861, it was selected for a prison, and in 1862, it housed about 1,400 prisoners. It was judged to be able to accommodate roughly 2,500 captives. By 1864, conditions at the prison worsened considerably because the site was thousands over capacity, with possibly as many as 10,000 prisoners. Disease and starvation led to thousands of deaths, along with instances when prisoners stormed the guards and were shot. Virtually all the prisoners were transferred out of the site in February 1865 through a prisoner exchange program. That didn’t keep Union Gen. George Stoneman from burning down the prison when he arrived in Salisbury in April 1865, right at the Civil War’s end.

Full article can be found here - https://www.salisburypost.com/2019/...ing-evidence-of-confederate-prisons-location/

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