February 20, 2014
Hasty Dig At Camp Asylum, SC:
The Developer’s Coming!
By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER
Columbia, SC (AP) 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 (66.7-hectare) 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, amid hopes it becomes an urban campus of shops and apartments and possibly a minor league baseball field. Chief archaeologist Chester DePratter said researchers are digging through soil to locate the holes—the largest being 7 feet(2.1 meters)long, 6 feet(1.8 meters) wide and 3 feet(90 centimeters) deep—as well as whatever possessions the officers may have left behind.
``Almost everybody lived in holes, although the Confederacy did try to procure tents along the way, as they could obtain them,’’ said DePratter, a research archaeologist with the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology.
DePratter said he’s been able to track down about 40 diaries written by camp survivors, telling tales of suffering and survival, as well as dozens of letters written by the prisoners about their experiences. He said they came from states across the North, and from many different military units.
``It’s hard to imagine. They all talk about their clothing being threadbare, many of them had no shoes. They shared the blankets they had, three or four together spoon fashion and put a blanket over them’’ to stay warm, DePratter said. ``They wrote about how every prisoner in the camp would walk about at night to keep from freezing to death.’’
Amazingly, only one officer died there.
Officers were useful for prisoner exchanges, so they were shuttled from site to site as the war progressed. The enlisted men were sent to the notorious prison at Andersonville, Georgia, where 12,000 Union soldiers died of illness and privation. The officers, however, were held in Richmond, Virginia, then Macon, Georgia, before being sent to Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina.
After a yellow fever outbreak in Charleston, they were brought to Columbia, where they were put in an open field dubbed ``Camp Sorghum’’ on the western side of the Congaree River across from Columbia. But when hundreds started escaping into the surrounding countryside, they were shifted to the mental hospital’s grounds, which are surrounded by a 10-foot(3-meter) brick wall.
As the researchers dig and sift the reddish earth, they uncover buttons, combs, remnants of clothing and utensils presumably used by the prisoners. One hole contained crudely made bricks the prisoners fashioned by hand, which they stacked to offer protection from the wind and rain.
The developer has given DePratter $25,000, which has been matched by the city, to start his dig. He’s been able to raise another $17,000. DePratter is hoping to raise additional funds to pay for ground-penetrating radar to avoid the utility pipes that crisscross the site. He has until the end of April to dig out as much as he can. Everything the crew finds is going to be held for preservation and study through the archaeology institute, he said.
Tours—set up through the Historic Columbia Foundation at $10 per person—are being conducted to help bring attention to the archaeology project.
Eric Leonard, the director of education at the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia, which also houses a prisoner of war museum, said it is important to uncover the histories of prisoners even if it is an unpleasant topic.
``Prisoners of war are an example of the extraordinary cost of war. It’s not an easy story to tell, and it’s not a happy story. But it delves into the consequences of war,’’ Leonard said.
Leonard added that unearthing artifacts is also important to do, since it gives people today a broader picture of the human story that might not jump out of the printed page.
Joe Long, the curator of education for the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, said the prisoners were educated officers, who were more hardened to the elements than people today.
``These were intelligent, skilled men, and they produced some beautiful crafts,’’ Long said. His museum has purchased a pipe carved by one of the prisoners from a hardened root ball of briarwood. Long added that the waning days of the Civil War have gotten little historical attention, and need to be academically documented. Long noted that in order to keep their spirits up, the prisoners formed a glee club, and sang for themselves and the local populace.
``The camp commandant had a rule, he told them they could sing all the Yankee songs as they wanted, but they also had to sing a Southern song. So they’d sing `Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ and then they’d sing `Dixie,’’’ Long said with a laugh.
Three days before Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s forces entered the city, the men were moved to Charlotte, and then to Wilmington, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter the war ended, and prisoners on both sides were freed.
Backyard Bird Counters
Reveal Snowy Owl Migration
Albany, NY (AP) Reports from tens of thousands of bird-counting volunteers show a southern invasion of Arctic-dwelling snowy owls has spread to 25 states, and frigid cold is causing unusual movements of waterfowl.
Results are still coming in from the four-day annual Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Sponsors say the event, which ended Monday, drew participants from a record 127 countries, surpassing last year’s 110. Most were from the U.S. and Canada.
Preliminary results show more than 2,500 snowy owls being reported in 25 states and seven Canadian provinces. The big white owls are in the midst of an irruption, or a sudden invasion of a region in large numbers, which scientists attribute to a population boom in the birds and a scarcity of their preferred food, lemmings, in their normal range on the Arctic tundra.
A Snowy Owl
Another early finding is that with the Great Lakes almost completely frozen, some species, such as white-winged scoter and long-tailed duck, have left the lakes and stopped at inland locations where they’re not usually found at this time of year.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is designed to engage the public in nature study as well as help scientific research.
“When tens of thousands of participants around the world share what they’re seeing during the Great Backyard Bird Count, they help scientists achieve something that would otherwise be impossible - documenting where vast numbers of birds are, all across the world, in a very short period of time,” said Janis Dickinson, director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab in Ithaca.
The most numerous species reported were snow geese, with 1.1 million recorded, followed by Canada geese, European starlings, mallard ducks and red-winged blackbirds.
The annual backyard count, now in its 17th year, is open to anyone. Participants observe and record birds in their backyard or any other location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and submit the observations online.
Anyone can view the results and explore trends in bird distribution and numbers online at http://www.ebird.org , where the Great Backyard Bird Count numbers as well as year-round daily reports from thousands of birdwatchers are recorded.
Last year’s results showed a superflight, or unusually large irruption, of 10 finch species including redpolls, pine siskins, pine and evening grosbeaks, red-breasted nuthatches, purple finches and Bohemian waxwings. Numbers of those species were down considerably this year, reflecting natural variations in seed crops
Surgeon Who Invented Heimlich
Maneuver: Remember It!
By LISA CORNWELL
Cinncinnati (AP) The Cincinnati surgeon who wrote the book on saving choking victims through his namesake Heimlich maneuver has now penned a new book: his memoir.
Dr. Henry Heimlich’s views on how the maneuver should be used and on other innovations he has created or proposed have put him at odds with some in the health field. But he hopes his recently published memoir will preserve the technique that has cleared obstructions from windpipes of choking victims around the world for four decades and made his name a household word.
``I know the maneuver saves lives, and I want it to be used and remembered,’’ the 94-year-old retired chest surgeon told The Associated Press this month. ``I felt I had to have it down in print so the public will have the correct information.’’
Much of his autobiography``Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation’’ - focuses on the maneuver, which involves thrusts to the abdomen that apply upward pressure on the diaphragm to create an air flow forcing food or other objects out of the windpipe.
Heimlich says thousands of deaths reported annually from choking prompted him in 1972 to seek a solution. Over the next two years, leading a team of researchers at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, he successfully tested the technique by putting a tube with a balloon at one end down an anesthetized dog’s airway until it choked. He then used the maneuver to force the dog to expel the obstruction.
``By 1974, I knew I needed to get the maneuver to the public as soon as possible to save lives,’’ he said.
He appeared on radio and television shows including ``Good Morning America’’ and ``Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’’ and started hearing from people who had used the maneuver or been saved by it.
The maneuver made headlines again this month. Clint Eastwood was attending a golf event in Monterey, Calif., when the 83-year-old actor saw the tournament director choking on a piece of cheese and successfully performed the technique.
``The best thing about it is that it allows anyone to save a life,’’ Heimlich said.
Anne Jutt of Mason, a Cincinnati suburb, said Heimlich will always be a hero to her family. She used the maneuver last spring when her 6-year-old son was choking on a cherry tomato.
``I was scared of hurting him, but he was starting to get limp,’’ she said. ``I put everything I had into it, and the tomato flew out like a bullet.’’
Heimlich says the maneuver is very effective when used correctly, but he does not approve of American Red Cross guidelines calling for back blows followed by abdominal thrusts in choking cases that don’t involve infants or unconscious victims. Red Cross officials say evidence shows using multiple methods can be more effective, but Heimlich says blows can drive obstructions deeper into a windpipe. The American Heart Association backs abdominal thrusts.
Neither organization supports Heimlich’s view that using the maneuver to remove water from the lungs could save drowning victims. They recommend CPR.
``There is no evidence that abdominal thrusts are effective for drowning victims,’’ said Dr. Robert Neumar, chairman of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee of the American Heart Association.
Heimlich points with pride to some of his other innovations, such as a chest drain valve credited by some with saving soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam War. But he has drawn sharp criticism for his theory that injecting patients with a curable form of malaria could trigger immunity in patients with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Medical experts have said injecting patients with malaria would be dangerous and have criticized Heimlich for conducting studies involving malariotherapy on HIV patients in China.
Heimlich mostly brushes off criticism about his work.
``I’ll be the first to admit that a number of my ideas are controversial and in some ways unorthodox,’’ Heimlich said. ``But I have enough guts to know that when I am right, it will come about as the thing to do, even if others do the wrong thing for a time.’’
Heimlich now lives in an assisted-living facility but responds to emails and letters about his work and makes guest appearances with the Heimlich Heroes program. The program designed to teach young people how to use the Heimlich maneuver allows him to still pursue his passion for saving lives.
``And I’m not done yet,’’ he said with a grin.