Discovering the 55th, 30 Years Later 

In June 1987, relic hunters Robert Bohrn and Eric Croen uncovered the find of a lifetime. Following the tracks of a bulldozer clearing the way for houses on present day West Indian Avenue, their metal detectors alerted them to the presence of something below, in an area that they had searched before without success. What they encountered were the graves of 19 soldiers of the 55th Massachusetts regiment. Although early reports cited 14 bodies, later analysis revealed the bones of 19 individuals at the site. Arriving on Folly soon after the 54th Massachusetts regiment that stormed Fort Wagner, the 55th remained on Folly long thereafter, clearing jungle, building fortifications and hauling supplies. The only two fully intact skeletons were found in six-sided coffins, built from sawmills on Folly Island. (Courtesy of Robert Bohrn.)

Image courtesy of Robert Bohrn. Images like these are included in Stratton
Lawrence’s book, Images of America: Folly Beach. To purchase your own personalized signed copies or to share a photo and story for next month’s
Folly Flashback column, email Stratton Lawrence at

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