Archaeology of a South Carolina Winter Encampment at Montpelier

Situated in Orange Virginia, on the lands making up Montpelier, are a series of Confederate Winter encampments occupied during the Winter of 1863 and 1864.  Preliminary surveys and historical research indicates that three Brigades (consisting of close to 4600 men) were camped on lands now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and operated by the Montpelier Foundation.  In the Spring of 2002, the Montpelier Archaeology Department began surveys in the northern portion of the property where local relic hunters had informed us there were a series of Confederate winter encampments.  These surveys revealed several camps—of which one was surveyed and was determined to be a well preserved camp consisting of over 5 acres of hut sites.  With this discovery in hand, Montpelier hosted two field schools (one with James Madison University and the other with State University of New York at Potsdam) that enabled us to conduct additional field survey and mapping of one section of the encampment and excavate four hut locations.  In this paper we will discuss our initial findings in regard to layout of this camp and differences in architectural form and material goods recovered from the four huts excavated.  We will begin with an overall historical context for the camps.