Columbia Military Prison
Camp Asylum or Camp Lunancy
This is a drawing of the best accomdations that Union officers were afforded
after the Camp Sorghum, Columbia, S. C., was closed and prior to the
evacuation in 1865. It is the State Insance Asylum in downtown Columbia. It
was called Camp Asylum and Camp Lunancy. Per 1st Lieutenant John Gregory
Bishop Adams, 19th Massachusetts Infantry
"There were about two acres enclosed. On three sides were brick walks; on the
fourth a high board fence which separated us from the insane. Sentry boxes were
built around the place and two pieces of artillery were pointed at us through
the fence. Inside was a wooden building used for a hospital. The frames of
about thirty small buildings were up and eleven were covered. The work had been
done by our officers, and the rebels promised to send in lumber to cover the
rest, but it never came. The eleven would accommodate about three hundred, the
rest being quartered in a few old tents. Our squad had neither buildings nor
tents, and we huddled together on the bare ground. It was so cold that we
walked most of the night to keep from freezing."
Collection of Historic Columbia Foundation.
This is another view of Camp Asylum that was depicted in one of
Historic Columbia Foundation's newsletters who own the reproduction rights to
This is rear view of Camp Asylum
This drawing was done by 1st Lieutenant Ole Rasmussen Dahl, 1th Wisconsin
Infantry, "The Scandinavian Regiment", having been move from the Camp Sorghum,
Columbia, S. C., was closed and prior to the evacuation in 1865. In addition,
he gave us these pictures of every day life. Widely published in many books, he
published a poster of all of them. Have a copy.
Columbia, S, C.
On the morning of the twelfth of December, cold and cheerless as it was, we
received orders to move to the city. The wall, or stockade, was twelve feet
of brick on three sides, while a board fence separated us from the large
When we entered the yard, there was the shell of a building, partly finished,
in the north-west corner, twenty-four feet square, divided into two rooms.
This was a
and we were all to have quarters like it as soon as we would build them yet,
as usual, after being there over two months, only one third of the officers had
barracks. Some old tents and pieces of tents were brought in, which served to
cover the mouth of a hole, which many made in the ground and used for quarters;
yet more or less were without any kind of shelter
We had plenty of good pure water brought into us through, the hydrant, a luxury
of which we availed ourselves often.
We suffered here for want of wood ; the ration,
not amounting to a piece larger or longer than your arm, for twenty-four hours,
and some days they would not issue at all. Often it was of the poorest quality.
In order to prevent the meal-sacks from being stolen or lost, some carpenters
were sent in one day, and made us a " feed-box," into which was emptied our
rations, as though we were so many hogs. However, the plan did not last long.
While in Columbia, over four months, consisted of:
Corn-meal, often ground cob and all, 4 quarts.
Sorghum, (molassesóblack and bitter,) 1 gill.
Salt, 2 table-spoonfuls for 5 days.
Rice, 2 table-spoonfuls for 5 days.
We got two or three issues of black, dirty flour, one of canal, and one of
Had no meat issued for one hundred and thirty-three days. Meal and sorghum
only, for four months.
The above came from:
Key to southern prisons of United States officers ...
by Ole. Rasmussen. Dahl
Late Lieutenant and Topographical Engineer Fifteenth Wisconsin Infantry
Published in 1865
J.A. Gray & Green (New York)
Daily life was a mixture of boredom and survival. While Columbia is hot and
humid in the summer, it can get pretty cold, especially for a man who has
inadeuqate clothing. A wood allocation was almost as important as food.
If a prisoner had access to cash or trade goods, there was a merhcant there to
provide what few goods were available.
My long term goal is to accumulate enough information to publish a book for
inclusion in the resources of the South Carolina Archives. If you have any
information about these or any other POWs who passed thru this came, please
E-Mail me at: