Florence Stockade

Florence Stockade, photograph by Jerrye & Roy Klotz, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: Stockade Dr., Florence, SC 29506

During the American Civil War, the southern states joined together against the Confederate States of America to fight against northern states, often referred to as the Union. The Florence Stockade was a prisoner-of-war camp where the Confederacy held Union soldiers from September 1864 to February 1865. 

In 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the United States. It did so before the American Civil War even began, and the state eventually joined the Confederate States of America. In September 1864, Confederate Major Frederick F. Warley commanded enslaved Black people in the area to construct the Florence Stockade. The Confederacy chose this location because of the convergence of the North Eastern and Wilmington & Manchester Railroads. 

The South Carolina Reserves were among the Confederate guards here. These men were usually around the age of 17 or over 45. Temporarily during the stockade’s construction, the Union prisoners were held in a cornfield. There were many attempted escapes by the prisoners but most were recaptured with the help of dogs to hunt them down. There were some escapees who were successful, aided by enslaved men and women who helped them across Union lines. 

Most of their Union Prisoners were evacuated from the POW camp constructed in Andersonville, Georgia. They were evacuated in fear of Union forces liberating that camp. The POW camp housed as many as 16,000 Union prisoners, and 1,800 Confederate guards served at the camp. The Florence Stockade took up 23 ½ acres of land and the palisade was 1,400 by 725 feet. Deep moats were built to prevent prisoners from tunneling out, and the camp was surrounded by a 16-foot wall. Multiple cannons were placed at all four corners of the stockade to stop rioting among the prisoners. The Pye Branch Stream provided the camp water. 

Union prisoners built a makeshift hospital in the northwest corner. Most of the provided medicine was made from tree bark and roots. Twenty to 50 prisoners died each day of diseases (such as scurvy, measles, and typhoid fever), exposure, and starvation. In the fall of 1864, Union POW Private George Richard Crosby kept a journal while he was held at the Florence Stockade. He described his bad health and reported how some men switched sides. His journal also described the daily ration sizes. 

One example was a fourth pint of rice, five spoonfuls of molasses, and a walnut-sized potato. He also wrote about being a part of the exchange of ill soldiers between the Union and the Confederacy. In February 1865, he ended up in a Vermont military hospital.

Union POWs worked as patrolmen, clerkmen, musicians, and hospital aides while living at the camp. The stockade also had a small sutler’s store where prisoners could barter for personal items. The prisoners built their own shelters, makeshift huts, and tree-bough-covered trenches that are still detectable. The prisoners were not the only ones who had to set up their own shelters. 

Confederate guards had to set up their own shelters, usually expensive and heavy Sibley tents that housed up to 12 men. Guards also provided their own gear. Some didn’t have adequate clothing. They were able to get meat in their rations, while POWs usually did not. 

In the spring of 1865, the guards shipped prisoners to North Carolina when Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman entered South Carolina. Over 2,800 prisoners died and were buried on the Jarrott plantation in large trench graves. The POW’s death register information was lost after the war. In 1980, the stockade was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs planned to expand the Florence National Cemetery to the south in 2005, so archaeologists began surveying the Stockade land. When surveying the land, they found artifacts such as buttons, canteens, glass, ceramic vessels, stone jugs, kitchenware, and ammunition. In 2008, the stockade was opened to the public with 15 marked walking trails and an interpretive gazebo. Weather permitting, you are welcome to park your car and walk the trails at this time.

For more information on the events and people surrounding the Florence Stockade, visit

  • The memoir of Colonel Ezra Hoyt Ripple
  • The first female service member interred in a national cemetery lies in one of the mass trenches in Section D.  After her husband joined Union troops, Florena Budwin disguised herself as a man, hoping to find her husband.
  • The Florence Stockade Project that discusses the Stockade building itself