Archaeological Excavation At The Coleman Site Of Appomattox Court House


  Share By NPT Staff on June 28th, 2018
National Park Traveler

Archaeologists from the University of South Carolina are partnering with Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and the Northeast Regional Archaeology Program to perform an excavation in the park sponsored by Civil War to Civil Rights funding from the National Park Service. The current excavation is located on the historic Dr. Samuel Coleman property, investigating the potential dwelling site of Hannah Reynolds, an enslaved African American servant of the Coleman family.

Reynolds was wounded by a stray artillery shell on the morning of April 9, 1865, near the Coleman House and died three days later after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, a free woman.

Using a suite of remote sensing techniques, archaeologists surveyed the Coleman site in September 2017 to identify potential locations for the ongoing 2018 excavations. Enduring heat and heavy rains, the archaeological team conducted excavations on site over the last two months. The recent heavy rainfall has led to waterlogged clay soils, forcing archaeologists to adapt their sampling strategies and employ a unique wet-screening technique in their search for artifacts.

As the archaeology team enters the last week of the 2018 field season, they are busy analyzing newly uncovered artifacts from the dig. Recovered objects include a range of domestic and architectural objects such as glass beads, machine cut nails, and medicinal bottles from the 19th century inhabitants. These archaeological materials provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who occupied the Coleman site as well as evidence from the intense battle that was fought on this property on April 9th, 1865. Park staff will use the information from the excavation and related research findings to expand the interpretation of park resources and stories to tell a more of the legacy of emancipation as a result of the surrender.