SC History Trail

Florence Stockade Trail and Memorial Park/Florence National Cemetery

Site of a major Civil War prison camp, the Florence Stockade Trail and Memorial Park is adjacent to Florence National Cemetery, which began as a cemetery for Northern prisoners-of-war who died at Florence Stockade. The National Cemetery's original facility contains the graves of more than 2,800 Northern soldiers, and the nearby Florence Stockade Trail and Memorial Park provides historic displays and a walking path through the site of the Civil War prison.


Florence Stockade Trail and Memorial Park/Florence National Cemetery
803 East National Cemetery Road, Florence, SC 29506
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Web Site:
Phone: 843-669-8783
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Site Description
One of the largest and most notorious prison camps of the Civil War was located in Florence, South Carolina. Civil War prisoner-of-war camps were not healthy places - camps on both sides were deadly. According to studies by noted Civil War historian E.B. Long, Southern prison camps had a death rate of 15 percent, while the death rate in Northern prison camps was 12 percent.

Approximately 220,000 Southern soldiers became prisoners of war and an estimated 210,000 Northern troops were POWs. Thousands were paroled - sent home after swearing an oath to refrain from further service - and thousands were exchanged for enemy prisoners. Thousands more, however, underwent grueling hardships and grievous suffering in military prisons. Captured troops were imprisoned in converted coastal fortresses in the North, in converted warehouses in the South and in hurriedly constructed prison camps on both sides. Dysentery, starvation, exposure to harsh weather and mistreatment killed an estimated 56,000 prisoners - approximately 30,000 Northerners and 26,000 Southerners.

There were hellholes aplenty on both sides. Among the deadliest sites for Southern prisoners were Chicago's Camp Douglas, New York's Elmira Prison, and Point Lookout Prison in Maryland. The deadliest locations for Northern prisoners included Georgia's Camp Sumter (better known as "Andersonville Prison"), North Carolina's Salisbury Prison - and the Florence Stockade.

Florence Stockade was constructed on Jefferies Creek in Florence within walking distance of the Florence's rail lines. As many as 18,000 Northern troops and a small number of sailors were imprisoned there - many of them shipped from the better-known Andersonville prison when it appeared threatened by General W.T. Sherman's March to the Sea. Florence was chosen as a site for the prison because of its rail access and because the Pee Dee backcountry appeared secure from Northern invaders.

Modeled after Andersonville Prison, Florence Stockade was a rectangular-shaped outdoor facility, protected by a palisades fence erected atop huge earthern walls. Artillery covered the huge enclosure which was crossed by the creek and the walls were patrolled by Confederate infantry. A "dead line" extended around the camp. Prisoners began arriving before construction of the camp was complete and no housing existed. POWs were left to dig the sandy soil and build their own housing in crude burrows covered with pine branches. Conditions were horrible. Rations were severely limited and a winter ice storm left hundreds of dead in a single night.

Concern about prison conditions by local civilians prompted the exchange of the most seriously ill and injured prisoners, and large-scale transfers and exchanges emptied the prison in January of 1865, just five months after its construction. By then, however, more than 2,800 Federal troops had perished. They were buried nearby in mass graves in what became the Florence National Cemetery. Near the mass grave markers is the grave of Florena Budwin, a Northern woman who disguised herself as a man to follow her husband into war - and into prison. Her identity was discovered at the Florence Stockade and she worked there awhile as a nurse until she sickened and died. She was buried with full-military honors and became the first female service member interred in a National Cemetery.

Florence Stockade is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a local preservation group, Friends of the Stockade, and the City of Florence have developed a walking tour of the prison site - the Stockade Trail and Memorial Park. The tour begins at a gazebo with illustrated historical displays and directs visitors along a marked trial through the prison site. Visitors may begin their tour at the adjacent Florence National Cemetery, then reach the Stockade Rail and Memorial Park by automobile on Stockade Road opposite the National Cemetery headquarters.
Access and Admission
Historic Registry: National Register of Historic Places