Preservation News: USCT’s Headstone Discovered in Delaware

With tens of thousands of books written on the American Civil War and countless artifacts preserved in museums, it is hard to imagine that any more discoveries can be made about this time period. However, we continue to find hidden gems about the war. Just this week, archaeologists in Delaware uncovered the gravestone of a soldier in the 32nd United States Colored Troops, which may open the door to another fascinating discovery.

The discovered headstone of Pvt. Charles Hall of Company K, 32nd U.S.CT. (Courtesy of Jenna Miller)

In Sussex County, Delaware, archaeologists were hired to survey an area near the historic Hall Plantation to prepare for a potential 47-acre townhouse development. According to the local legend, somewhere near the plantation was an unmarked African-American cemetery. During the dig, these archaeologists uncovered the remains of at least nine unidentified graves. It was not until the archaeologists discovered a headstone that they could get closer to the answers.

The headstone discovered was for C.S. Hall of Company K, 32nd United States Colored Troops. After digging through his service record, we discovered that the headstone was for Pvt. Charles Hall, who enlisted in March of 1864 in Philadelphia at the age of 22. Hall’s unit served throughout South Carolina and participated in the Battle of Honey Hill and the occupation of Charleston. However, Hall’s service in the unit lasted just six months. He was discharged in September 1864 for disability from the General Hospital in Philadelphia.

An archaeologist cleans Hall’s headstone at the site. (Courtesy of Jenna Miller).

Unfortunately, just because Hall’s headstone was found does not mean his gravesite location has been confirmed. It will take time. Nonetheless, “This cemetery is a significant discovery for the community and for all Delawareans who value and appreciate our state’s rich history,” according to the Director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs for Delaware. Through discoveries like this, we can continue to preserve and share Civil War history across the country. Hopefully, Sussex County can protect and preserve this cemetery from the proposed development.

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