Earlier this month a new Civil War Trails sign was installed at Serenity Farm near Benedict, Maryland. The sign enables visitors to stand in the footsteps of the Black men who trained at Camp Stanton from 1863-1864. It is one of seven Civil War Trails sites in the County and the first in the state to tell the story of the formation and training of what was called, ‘United States Colored Troops (USCT).’
This new sign replaces an older version that has served visitors for over a decade along the waterfront in the town of Benedict. However, archeology completed in 2016 by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration uncovered the actual location of the camp a few miles west of town. Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Chief Archaeologist for the Maryland Department of Transportation said, “The power of archaeology allows us to learn about the daily lives of all people. It does not discriminate. At Camp Stanton, we saw the ghostly outlines of tents and fires. Minie balls, knapsack hooks, and lost buttons showed us where the United States Colored Troops lived and trained. Archaeology could trace their movements on the landscape and gave us a glimpse of a soldier’s life in Southern Maryland.”
The Civil War Trails program is unique in that it is constantly updating sign content and locations to keep pace with scholarship and the expectations of visitors. “It is important to continually enhance the visitors’ experience,” said Ashley Chenault, Tourism Chief for Charles County. “We are confident that the new location will inspire travelers to follow the Civil War Trail.” The Charles County Recreation, Parks, and Tourism office was the fiscal partner, enabling the new sign to be developed and installed.
Each Civil War Trails site, like the new one at Serenity Farm, is marketed internationally by municipal destination marketing organizations, state travel offices, parks, and other stakeholders. There are over 1,400 sites across six states with a large number dedicated to telling historically marginalized stories like Camp Stanton. “Our nation’s Civil War story is incredibly diverse,” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails, Inc. “As you turn the page, moving past the same-old, age-old Civil War stories you will find out about men like Dr. Augusta or places like Camp Stanton.”
To find out more about the program visit www.civilwartrails.org or to plan your trip to this site and others in Charles County visit www.explorecharlescounty.com. Inspired by Camp Stanton? Snap a sign selfie and tag @civilwartrails and @explorecharlescounty.