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From These Honored Dead

Historical Archaeology of the American Civil War

Clarence R. Geier

Publication Year: 2014

Presenting the best current archaeological scholarship on the American Civil War, From These Honored Dead shows how historical archaeology can uncover the facts beneath the many myths and conflicting memories of the war that have been passed down through generations.

By incorporating the results of archaeological investigations, the essays in this volume shed new light on many aspects of the Civil War. Topics include soldier life in camp and on the battlefield, defense mechanisms such as earthworks construction, the role of animals during military operations, and a refreshing focus on the conflict in the Trans-Mississippi West. Supplying a range of methods and exciting conclusions, this book displays the power of archaeology in interpreting this devastating period in U.S. history.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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p. ix


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p. x

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Clarence R. Geier, Lawrence E. Babits, and Douglas D. Scott

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pp. 1-4

On February 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America was born. On April 12, 1861, the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor for what was to become differentially known as the American Civil War, the War of the Rebellion, the War of Northern Aggression, the War for Southern Independence, and so...

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Part I. The Flow of Battle and Battlefield Landscapes

The essence of warfare is violence, defensive or offensive in intent and design. The evidence for this is seen in the human and other debris left on and beneath the fields of battle as the engaged armies either claim the battlefield or, bloodied, disengage. A traditional area of historical archaeology in military settings has focused on the interpretation...

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1. Civil War Archaeology in the Trans-Mississippi West

Douglas D. Scott

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pp. 7-25

The trans-Mississippi West is rarely thought of as a place where battles were fought during the Civil War. The exceptions in most scholars’ minds are Missouri and Arkansas, but the battles in these states are seldom mentioned as important in the larger scheme of the war. By and large, Civil War historical research focuses on the eastern...

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2. Archaeology of the First Battle of Boonville, Missouri, June 17, 1861

Douglas D. Scott, Steven J. Dasovich, and Thomas D. Thiessen

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pp. 26-41

Early in the morning of June 17, 1861, several thousand men fought a brief battle a few miles east of Boonville, Missouri, an engagement that resulted in strategic consequences far beyond the scale of the engagement or its resultant low cost in human life and blood. The First Battle of Boonville, as it has been called, pitted a force of...

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3. Massacre and Battle at Centralia, Missouri, September 27, 1864: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives

Thomas D. Thiessen, Steven J. Dasovich, and Douglas D. Scott

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pp. 42-56

During the morning of September 27, 1864, the sleepy little hamlet and railroad stop of Centralia, Missouri, was visited by a band of pro-Confederacy guerrillas led by William T. Anderson, one of the most notorious partisan leaders in Civil War guerrilla warfare history. That visit erupted into violence and mayhem and led to the...

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4. An Archaeological Study of the Battlefield of Palmito Ranch: “The Last Conflict of the Great Rebellion”

Charles M. Haecker

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pp. 57-71

One of the more obscure engagements of the Civil War was the Battle of Palmito Ranch, fought within an 8-mile-long expanse of Texas coastal prairie near the mouth of the Rio Grande (figure 4.1). It was here, on May 12–13, 1865, that Confederate cavalry first checked, then outmaneuvered, mauled, and finally forced the retreat of...

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5. Archaeological Survey of Two Civil War Battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Robert L. Jolley

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pp. 72-87

Archaeological investigations of two Shenandoah Valley battlefields—one fought in 1862 (Battle of Front Royal) and one fought in 1864 (Third Battle of Winchester)— represent a study in contrasting expectations and unexpected findings. Questions relating to the archaeological imprints of battlefields, material culture, the use of historic...

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6. “The Sensation of This Week”: Archaeology and the Battle of Fort Stevens

John Bedell and Stephen Potter

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pp. 88-103

On July 11 and 12, 1864, Washington came under attack. Guns boomed in the capital’s northern suburbs as Confederate troops under Jubal Early probed the defenses, and a ragged line of refugees trudged in from the countryside. But the city had been hardened by three long years of war, and neither the soldiers defending the capital nor...

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7. South Carolina in the Civil War: A Historical-Archaeological Perspective

Steven D. Smith

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pp. 104-118

The Civil War began and nearly ended in South Carolina, and the state paid dearly for that most dubious honor. Between the state’s opening salvo against Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor (April 12, 1860), and Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s march across the state ( January–March 1865), some 18,000–21,000 South Carolinians were...

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Part II. Military Support and the Life of the Common Soldier

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pp. 119-122

As evidenced by the publication of numerous personal diaries and sets of letters from Union and Confederate soldiers of all ranks, and by a growing number of historicalarchaeological studies on encampments of both sides, the life and circumstances of the common soldier, as individuals and as members of armies, is becoming of increased...

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8. With Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley: Wesley Merritt at Cedar Creek, October 1864

Clarence R. Geier and Alyson L. Wood

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pp. 123-140

Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign culminated with the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. This historically significant battle (Mahr 1992; Wert 1987; Noyalas 2009; Lewis 1987, 1988) started with a Confederate dawn attack on Sheridan’s encamped Army of the Shenandoah and was initially a brilliant...

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9. Home Is Where the Woods Are: An Analysis of a Civil War Camp Complex in Virginia

Matthew Reeves

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pp. 141-158

Montpelier, the home of President James Madison, contains an extensive complex of Civil War encampments occupied by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the winter of 1863–64. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the combatants vied for the area south of Culpeper Courthouse with the Confederates...

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10. The Fall 1863 Bivouac of the 14th Connecticut Infantry: Archaeological Investigations of Troops on Active Campaign

Joseph F. Balicki

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pp. 159-176

On November 10, 1863, after weeks of marching and fighting, the 14th Connecticut Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Corps, was ordered to establish a forward position at Milton’s Mill, near Brandy Station, Virginia (figure 10.1). This camp was a frontline, short-term bivouac, occupied for 16 days by troops on active campaign...

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11. Issues of Horse and Mule Logistics in the Civil War

Joseph W. A. Whitehorne

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pp. 177-190

Archaeologists, along with many others, are drawn to Civil War sites largely because of their association with compelling human events. It is natural to focus on human participants to further explain the course of a battle, the extent of an encampment, or the use of a building for medical purposes. The artifacts recovered that best assist...

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Part III. Miscellaneous Studies: Military Earthwork Construction and the Conservation and Care of Military Artifacts

The concluding five chapters of the text address a variety of topics of interest to the study of the Civil War: defense and earthwork construction, collateral damage, and an ongoing study of military artifacts. Chapters 12 through 14 focus on three instances of military defense. In the first of these, chapter 12, Stephen, Kim, and David McBride...

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12. Archaeology and Reconstruction of Fort Putnam, Camp Nelson: A Civil War Heritage Park in Jessamine County, Kentucky

W. Stephen McBride, Kim A. McBride, and J. David McBride

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pp. 193-206

During the American Civil War, most field fortifications were constructed primarily of earth, with some reinforced by wood or stone. The reason for this construction material was the increased penetrating power of Civil War–era artillery; nothing could absorb artillery shells as well as mounds of dirt (Hess 2005). The design and...

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13. The Application of Magnetic Prospecting Methods on the 1863 Bivouacs of the 2nd Corps, 3rd Division, 2nd Brigade

Peter Leach, Kerri Holland, and Joseph F. Balicki

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pp. 207-221

Archaeological investigation of American Civil War campsites, in both long-term and temporary field settings, provides an intimate look into camp life and layout. The specific context of diagnostic material culture and features facilitates archaeological inferences about activity areas, adherence to military regulations governing prescribed...

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14. Confederate River Defenses during the American Civil War: A Case Study from the Hammock Landing Battery on the Apalachicola River, Florida

C. Brian Mabelitini

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pp. 222-237

Throughout the American Civil War, the defense of the Apalachicola River was of strategic military and economic importance to the Confederacy, its geographical location being critical to its tactical significance. The Apalachicola is formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers at the Florida-Georgia state line...

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15. The Tale of a Gun—IX-Inch Dahlgren #FP573: It’s Not Just a Cannon, It’s a Story

Lawrence E. Babits, Christopher F. Amer, Lynn Harris, and Joe Beatty

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pp. 238-246

During the early summer of 2009, the South Carolina Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) at the University of South Carolina (USC) and East Carolina University (ECU) investigated two cannon barrels and recovered Brooke rifle shells and friction primers from the Great Pee Dee River near Florence, South Carolina...

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16. Addressing the Myths: Recent Civil War Studies at the Blountville, Tennessee, and Resaca, Georgia, Battlefields

Christopher T. Espenshade

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pp. 247-262

There can be little doubt that the Civil War is wrapped in layers and layers of myth. The same can be said of the archaeological study of the conflict. In this chapter, two recent projects are used as examples to illustrate how archaeologists must deal with myth, local lore, and common knowledge. In the first case, the Battle of Blountville...

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Appendix. METT-T, KOCOA, and the Principles of War: A Template Guiding a Better Understanding of Battlefield Behavior and Detritus

Lawrence E. Babits

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pp. 263-270

KOCOA is an archaeological acronym for identifying key terrain aspects of a battlefield culled from United States Army Field Manuals (U.S. Army 2001, 1986). Taught at the most basic unit levels, squad and platoon, KOCOA analysis is one subset of three military formats that both guide and explain battlefield activity. They are regarded...

References Cited

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pp. 271-304

List of Contributors

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pp. 305-310


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pp. 311-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048925
E-ISBN-10: 0813048923
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813049441

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 25 b&w ill, 9 tables, 24 maps, 11 line drawings
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 874029323
MUSE Marc Record: Download for From These Honored Dead

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Antiquities.
  • Historic sites -- United States.
  • Military archaeology -- United States.
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