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Johnson's Island, in Sandusky, Ohio, was built in 1862 specifically to house captured Confederate officers. In part because of the educational background and access to money enjoyed by those individuals, a distinctive prison culture developed. David Bush has spent more than two decades leading archaeological investigations at the site, and has uncovered a wealth of material culture that demonstrates the magnitude of POW craft jewelry manufacture, especially rings created by officer-prisoners for loved ones back home. In I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island Bush pairs these discoveries with a deep reading of extant letters, including a rich trove of correspondence between Captain Wesley Makely, captured shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, and his wife, Kate, at home in Alexandria, Virginia. Bush captures in compelling detail the physical challenges and emotional toll of prison life and offers fascinating insights into the daily lives of prisoners, guards, and the homefront. No other collection of Civil War letters offers such a rich context; no other archaeological investigation of Civil War prisons provides such a human story.

I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island : Life in a Civil War Prison (2012)

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