Three Decades of Identification: Advances in Civil War Bioarchaeology

Author(s): Douglas Owsley; Karin Bruwelheide

Year: 2016


In 1988, archaeologist Stephen Potter supervised the excavation of four battlefield burials found by relic collectors on the Roulette farm of Antietam Battlefield. Archival research into the discovery location, and the analysis of the artifacts and meager bone fragments, linked these men to the Irish Brigade. Nearly thirty years later, Civil War human remains continue to be the subject of inquiry. This review cites examples from several Civil War sites and contexts to illustrate how the process of identifying historic military remains, sometimes by name, has advanced. While a myriad of chemical analyses including stable isotopes, heavy metals testing and DNA are now part of the forensic anthropology toolkit, identification still often remains contingent on dogged persistence as exemplified by the successes of Potter and others like him dedicated to investigating our nation’s past. 

Cite this Record

Three Decades of Identification: Advances in Civil War Bioarchaeology. Douglas Owsley, Karin Bruwelheide. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434898)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 500