Working in secret, federal archaeologists have dug up the remains of dozens of soldiers and children near a Civil War-era fort after an informant tipped them off about widespread grave-looting.

The exhumations, conducted from August to October, removed 67 skeletons from the parched desert soil around Fort Craig - 39 men, two women and 26 infants and children, according to two federal archaeologists who helped with the dig.

They also found scores of empty graves and determined 20 had been looted.

The government kept its exhumation of the unmarked cemetery near the historic New Mexico fort out of the public's eye for months to prevent more thefts.

The investigation began with a tip about an amateur historian who had displayed the mummified remains of a black soldier, draped in a Civil War-era uniform, in his house.

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