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S.C. archeologists race to uncover Civil War prison

Crews excavated the site of a Civil War-era prison that once held 1,500 Union officers in Columbia, S.C. in January.
Crews excavated the site of a Civil War-era prison that once held 1,500 Union officers in Columbia, S.C. in January.Susanne Schafer/Associated Press

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OLUMBIA, S.C. — Racing against time, South Carolina archeologists are digging to uncover the remnants of a Civil War-era prisoner-of-war camp before the site in downtown Columbia is cleared to make room for a mixed-use development.

The researchers have been given four months to excavate a small portion of the 165-acre grounds of the former South Carolina State Hospital to find the remnants of what was once known as ‘‘Camp Asylum.’’

Conditions at the camp, which held 1,500 Union Army officers during the winter of 1864-65, were so dire that soldiers dug and lived in holes in the ground, which provided shelter against the cold.

The site was sold to a developer for $15 million last summer.

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