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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png U.S. Civil War Gotoarrow.png Union Prisoner of War Records

Contents



Introduction

As many as 674,000 men might have been taken prisoner during the Civil War. At first prisoners were paroled or exchanged, but this mostly ended in early 1864. Union officials thought that released Confederates would return to the military.

"Over 400,000 men were held in prisons in the north and south until the end of the war in April 1865. An estimated 56,000 died in prison - 30,000 in Confederate prisons and 26,000 in Union prisons. There were as many as 150 prisons, small and large, through the north and the south. Death rates ranged from 20 to 30 percent, North and South, with the highest death rate occurring at Camp Douglas in Chicago."[1]

Confederate Prisons for Union Soldiers

Prisoner of war records of Union prisoners are described in The Confederacy: A Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America (Worldcat) (FHL book 973 A5mb 1986) by Henry Putney Beers. Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners are described on pages 247–59.

Alabama

- Cahaba Prison at Cahawba

Cahaba Prison was located near Selma, Alabama, in the now vanished town of Cahawba, Dallas County. The prison was in a cotton warehouse by the Alabama River. It was in operation off and on from 1862 to April 1865. Over 9,000 men were imprisoned there during that time.[2]

"At its peak in 1864 and 1865, 3,000 men were housed there in with an average living space of only six square feet, by far the most crowded of any prison, north or south. Conditions were harsh, but thanks to a humane prison director and the kindnesses of town people, fewer than 250 soldiers died there. Over 800 men who had been imprisoned at Cahaba perished in the Sultana disaster on April 27, 1865."[3]

Online

  • Cahaba (CivilWarPrisoners.com) is name searchable and gives rank, company, regiment, date and location captured, date and cause of death, fate, and remarks. It also gives links to related sites.

- Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County

- Arkadelphia, Clarke County

Georgia

Andersonville Confederate Prison Records, 1864-1865

The "Selected Records of the War Department Commissary General of Prisoners Relating to Federal Prisoners of War Confined at Andersonville, GA, 1864-65" (NARA M1303) is a collection of registers, lists, returns, reports, and indexes that relate to Union prisoners of war that were held in the prison at Camp Sumter, Andersonville, GA, February 1864 to April 1865. The records include a register of about 30,000 departures from the prison, indexes and registers of prisoners admitted to the prison hospital, registers of prisoner deaths and burials as well as monthly reports of prisoners.

Online

Libraries

  • Locate these records at a library using Worldcat.

NorthCarolina

Salisbury Prison at Salisbury, North Carolina

"In the fall of 1864, the number of soldiers at Salisbury prison doubled from 5,000 to 10,000. It suffered from one of the highest prison death rates, with as many as half the men dying of starvation or disease."[4]

Online

Libraries

Florence

Virginia

Belle Isle opposite side of the James River from Richmond, Virginia

Castle Lightening at Richmond, Virginia

Castle Thunder at Richmond, Virginia

Smith Prison at Richmond, Virginia

Scott Prison at Richmond, Virginia

Pemberton Prison at Richmond, Virginia

Danville Prisons at Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Petersburg

Lynchburg


Sultana Disaster

The Sultana disastered occured April 27, 1865, when a boat loaded with nearly 2,200 Union POWs exploded, killing many of the men who had lived through Andersonville and Cahaba prisons. The boat was on the Mississippi River, north of Memphis, Tennessee when it exploded. The confirmed 1,221 verified deaths from existing sources, including Adjutant General (AG) reports. Many Sultana experts put the death toll at 1,500 to 1,800[5]

Online

  • Sultana Disaster (CivilWarPrisoners.com) is name searchable, and gives rank, regiment, date captured, and fate.

Regular Army Officers

Related Books

  • Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War (FHL 973 M2spe) (Worldcat) by Lonnie R. Speer contains the history of Union and Confederate prisons.

Internet Sites

  • Guide to Civil War Prisons, by Richard Jensen, professor emeritus of history, University of Illinois, lists sources about Civil War prisons.
  • Civil War Prisons, has name databases for Andersonville Prison, Cahaba Prison, and the Sultana Disaster.

References

  1. Lundquist, Jack and Carol, Civil War Prisons, (accessed 10 April 2012).
  2. Civil War Prisons, Cahaba Prison, (accesses 10 April 2012).
  3. Civil War Prisons, Cahaba Prison, (accesses 10 April 2012).
  4. United States. Department of Veteran Affairs. Salisbury National Cemetery, (accessed 10 April 2012).
  5. Civil War Prisons, Sultana Disaster, (accesses 10 April 2012).




 

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