Artifacts from Union General Sherman’s Southern Campaign shed light on the final days of the Civil War

In a remarkable discovery, hundreds of Civil War relics have been unearthed during the cleanup of the Congaree River in South Carolina. These artifacts provide tangible evidence of Union General William T. Sherman’s ruthless Southern campaign and offer a fascinating glimpse into the final days of the Civil War. The relics, including cannonballs, a sword blade, and a wagon wheel, are expected to find a new home at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. This extraordinary find not only enriches our understanding of history but also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made during this tumultuous period.

Uncovering the Past: The Significance of the Relics

The artifacts discovered during the cleanup of the Congaree River offer a unique opportunity to delve into the events of the Civil War. Among the finds are cannonballs, remnants of explosive weaponry that played a pivotal role in Union General Sherman’s strategy to demoralize Confederate forces. The discovery of a sword blade provides insight into the personal weapons used by soldiers on the battlefield. However, the most astonishing find is a wagon wheel believed to have been part of a supply wagon that exploded during Sherman’s campaign. The odds of finding such a relic were slim, making it a truly remarkable discovery.

The Story Behind the Relics: Sherman’s Southern Campaign

Union General William T. Sherman’s Southern campaign was a military strategy aimed at crippling the Confederacy’s ability to wage war. As Sherman’s troops marched through the South, they destroyed infrastructure, confiscated supplies, and demoralized the local population. The dumping of Confederate military equipment into the Congaree River was a deliberate act to further undermine rebel forces. The artifacts uncovered during the cleanup provide a tangible connection to this pivotal moment in history, allowing us to better understand the impact of Sherman’s campaign.

The Conservation Process: Preserving History for Future Generations

Although the artifacts have been discovered, they will not be immediately displayed. Corroded metal relics require a complex conservation process to ensure their long-term preservation. Electrochemical treatments will be used to stabilize and restore the artifacts, allowing them to withstand the test of time. Additionally, each relic will undergo measurement and identification to provide valuable historical context. It is estimated that it will take a couple of years before the artifacts can be exhibited for the public to appreciate.

A Lesson from the Past: The Importance of Preserving History

The completion of the $20 million cleanup project and the preservation of these artifacts serve as a reminder of the significance of preserving history for future generations. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster emphasized the importance of learning from the past and understanding the sacrifices made during the Civil War. By showcasing these relics and telling their stories, we can bridge the gap between the present and the past, fostering a deeper appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy today.


The discovery of Civil War relics in the Congaree River offers a captivating glimpse into the final days of the war and Union General Sherman’s Southern campaign. These artifacts provide tangible evidence of the sacrifices made and the strategies employed during this tumultuous period. As the relics undergo conservation and preparation for public display, they serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving history and learning from the past. By engaging with these relics, we can gain a deeper understanding of our collective heritage and the freedoms we enjoy today.