Saving History Saturday: Archaeological Dig at Union Encampment Site in New York

In the fall of 1861, the 92nd New York Infantry was officially organized near the village of Potsdam, New York. Consisting mainly of men from Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties, the regiment was raised by U.S. Representative from New York Jonah Sanford and trained at nearby Camp Union. These upstate New Yorkers would later fight in many of the Eastern Theater’s major battles, including the Seven Days’, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Chaffin’s Farm. Nearly 70 of their men died in combat or by mortal wounds. Today, a major part of the 92nd New York’s story is being preserved – the unit’s training ground at Camp Union.

The SUNY Potsdam archaeological students and professors work on the site of Camp Union. Courtesy of North Country Now.

At Potsdam, archaeological professors and students from SUNY Potsdam are conducting a dig around the former site of Camp Union. According to the Chair of Archaeology for SUNY Potsdam, Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron, the land being examined is “where it is believed Civil War soldiers paraded during daily training exercises there. The training grounds are probably near where Barstow Motors is now located, and the dig is just north of the training grounds.” The site is privately owned. The dig will help preserve artifacts and document the site prior to a planned construction project on the owner’s property.

According to North Country Now, the team has so far found mid-nineteenth century nails, glass bottles, and flat glass. Brick, mortar, and post holes were also discovered, building evidence of Civil War era structures on site. According to Kruczek-Aaron, Camp Union had a barracks, hospital, mess hall, cookhouse, and other structures. In partnership with the Potsdam Museum, the SUNY Potsdam team plans to add these artifacts to the Potsdam Museum’s collection.

For More Information:

Cheryl Shumway, “Archaeological Dig in Potsdam Turns Up Items Likely from Civil War Camp,” July 12, 2019, North Country Now,

W.T. Eckert, “Saturday Open House Struts Potsdam Archaeology Dig Rooted in Love of History,” July 11, 2019, NNY 360,


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