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Marking the (Under) Ground: Civil War Soldier Graffiti in the Mammoth Cave Region of Kentucky

Author(s): Joseph Douglas

Year: 2017

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During the American Civil War, numerous Union and Confederate soldiers visited dozens of caves in the major karst areas of the border and Confederate states, often marking the subterranean walls with graffiti. In the most important karst area of all, the Mammoth Cave region of Kentucky, caves were significant (and famous) features of the landscape, possession of which was bitterly contested, especially in the military campaigns of 1862. A preliminary study of extant historic graffiti at several Kentucky cave sites including Diamond Cave, Mammoth Cave, and others shows that men in the Union and Confederate armies did not just visit caves throughout the region, but they also claimed the underground spaces with their graffiti as part of the struggle for physical and political control of Kentucky. Rival soldiers also had much in common; their cultural conceptions of caves were mostly the same, and many of them had been transformed as they left behind their civilian lives and embraced new identities as soldiers.

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Cite this Record

Marking the (Under) Ground: Civil War Soldier Graffiti in the Mammoth Cave Region of Kentucky. Joseph Douglas. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429378)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13223

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America