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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Latrine Duty

If you're the descendant of a Confederate officer interned at the Johnson's Island Prisoner of War Depot in Ohio, you might not want to read this.

Archaeologists have been digging for 15 years at the camp, focusing on the "sinks," which is to say the latrines. It was into these "rectangular pits 8 feet wide by 12 feet long and 2 to 5 feet deep" that the prisoners dropped their most valuable treasures.

The sinks proved to be remarkable time capsules containing objects dropped accidentally or deliberately into the sewage. Understandably, even valuable objects were left. For example, the excavators found a gold locket containing a badly deteriorated photograph and a lock of hair. [Link]
The latrines were also a means of egress from the camp: at least ten prisoners are known to have escaped from Johnson's Island, and evidence has been found of tunnels leading from the "sinks" to the stockade wall.
Escapee's Wife: "Oh, my dear husband! You must have gone through so much to return to the loving arms of your family!"

Escapee: "Madam, you have no idea."

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