Johnson's Island Civil War Military Prison Excavations


Location: Marblehead, Ohio, United States

Season: 
June 6, 2016 to July 8, 2016

Application Deadline: 
Friday, May 27, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Program Type

Field school

no

Affiliation:

Heidelberg University

Project Director:

David R. Bush, Ph.D., Heidelberg University

Project Description

Since the spring of 1989, Dr. Bush has been investigating the Johnson's Island Civil War Prison. This site, located on a small island in Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie (just north of Cedar Point) held over 10,000 Confederate officers captured at hundreds of battles during the Civil War. One of the unique aspects of this Union prison is it only held Confederate officers. Past research has allowed us to specifically locate many of the special use areas of the prison. We have conducted investigations at Blocks 2, 4, and 8-general housing blocks and Block 6, the prison hospital. In the mid-1990s, preliminary investigations were conducted at Block 8. In 2010 we again explored both a latrine and the building location of Block 8. In the past few years, we have excavated half of the location of Block 8 as well as completing the excavation of Feature 124, the later 1862 latrine. In 1994 we opened up Feature 14, an 1863 latrine from Block 8. Our intent is to expose the remainder of Feature 14 (the latrine) and continue its excavation. This latrine was used in the latter part of 1863 by the occupants of Block 8.

We spent several years at Blocks 4 and 6, developing a very comprehensive collection of cultural materials from these blocks. This year we are hoping to complete the entire Block 6, hospital, excavation. In 2015 we excavated the northwest extension of Block 6, which we believe was the prison hospital’s mess area. The area produced many items related to food preparation as well as medical containers. The excavations this year should give us a look at the northern end of the building and complete our work at the hospital.

Finally, the research will continue in the laboratory with the field school conducting preliminary analyses of materials excavated. There will be two nights of laboratory work each week. Additionally, we will have Mike Woshner visit at the field school and provide an insightful presentation of the use of hard rubber during the US Civil War. 

We have had the pleasure of using our work at Johnson's Island as part of the Archaeology's Interactive Dig web site. You can view years of our work at their web site. http://interactive.archaeology.org/johnsonsisland/

 

Period(s) of Occupation: American-United States Civil War 1861-1865

Notes: 
Civil War archaeology, POW archaeology, historic archaeology, medical research

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Five Weeks

Minimum age: 
17

Experience required: 
None

Room and Board Arrangements

Housing is available at Heidelberg University in a house near campus and is $95/week. You will be living with the other field students enrolled in ANT 250/251. Food service is not included in the housing cost and is not available on campus during the summer. The Johnson's Island archaeological site is 45 minutes from campus and transportation is provided to the site.

Cost: 
Contact for details

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Heidelberg University
Number of credits offered 6
Tuition: 
$2,970 (6 hrs academic credit)

Location

Contact Information
Dr. David Bush
310 E. Market Street
Tiffin
Ohio
USA
44883
Telephone: 
419-448-2327
Recommended Bibliography: 

David Bush, Doing Time-How Confederate POWs weathered captivity, in The Archaeology of War, Mark Rose ed, 2005.

David Bush, Interpreting the Latrines of the Johnson's Island Civil War Military Prison, Historical Archaeology, 34(1):62:78, 2000,

David R. Bush, I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island:  Life in a Civil War Prison.  University Press of Florida, 2011

Charles Frohman, Rebels on Lake Erie, 1965, Columbus, Ohio-Ohio Historical Society