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Archaeology Center Displays Civil War Artifacts

archaeologyLoyola Marymount University’s Archaeology Center is commemorating the 150th anniversary the Civil War with a special display of artifacts from the war.

William Fulco, S.J., professor of archaeology and director of the center, said, “The prize piece in our Civil War collection is the collection of letters written by soldiers, both North and South, and their families at home. They serve to humanize the war.” These moving letters have been transcribed in a more-legible format by LMU students.

Also on display are more than 300 cartes-de-visite – small portrait photographs – which were popular during the war. Fulco said that much of the collection – the field hospital amputation kit, the array of bullet types, etc. – give a better idea of war plans, battle techniques and the like. Two recently acquired items are a cavalry saber and a beautiful Union officer’s sword with scabbard. A slideshow of the collection is available here.

The artifacts have been acquired over the past two years and are now a permanent part of LMU’s museum collections. “Our collection of classical antiquities is much to be admired for its beauty and its window into seminal early cultures,” said Fulco. “But our Civil War artifacts illustrate our histories, and the political, social and ethical issues they bear witness to are, in many ways, still with us.”

LMU undergraduate students worked long hours to categorize and transcribe the soldiers’ letters. “The letters show the human side of the Civil War,” said Fulco. “We read about families struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones, close friends now on opposite sides either geographically or politically, young men knowing they may die soon, men coming back with their bodies half destroyed trying to regain some degree of normal life.” 

Accompanying the collection is a growing library for students’ research papers.

The center is located on the third floor of University Hall and the collection is available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Fulco at wfulco@lmu.edu for more information.