United States, Records of Confederate Prisoners of War (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Collection Time Period
These records are for the years 1861 to 1866.
This collection consist of 429 volumes of Confederate Prisoners of War records, most of which are from the War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners. Others are from the Surgeon General's Office, a few Army commands, and individual prison camps. This collection consists of the following lists and registers:
- Prisoners Deaths and Burials
- Applications for Release and Released Prisoners
- Prisoners Paroled, Transferred, Escaped, Sentenced, and Exchanged
- Confederate Deserters
- Political prisoners
- Passes issued to visitors
- Prisoners released for employment on public works
- Prisoners enlisting in United States Service
- Clothing issued
- Prisoners' Possessions, Accounts, Articles and money received
- Account of checks and packages received for prisoners
- Letters sent and received
- Receipts for letters containing money
- Morning Reports of Patients and Attendants in the Prison Hospital
- Oaths of Allegience
- Roll Call books
- Statistical Reports
- Miscellaneous Reports
- Correspondence of the Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners
The key genealogical facts in Confederate POW records generally include:
- Name of Prisoner
- Date of entry on the expense ledger
- Payment date
- Amount paid
- Reason for payment
- Payment method (usually check)
How to Use the Record
To begin your search you will need to know the following:
- Full name
- Approximate dates of service
If you are having difficulty finding your ancestor, look for variations in the spelling of the name. If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records. For example:
- Death dates may lead to death certificates, mortuary, or burial records.
- Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
You may also find these search tips helpful:
• Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased, this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
• Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been seeking the pension.
• When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
"The War Department appointed Lt. Col. William Hoffman to be Commissary General of Prisoners in October 1861. Col. Hoffman was responsible for overseeing the handling and treatment of Confederate prisoners of war. In July 1862, the War Department established the Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners, an independent agency within the Department, which was responsible for the supervision of Confederate prisoners of war and political prisoners confined in Union prisons. The Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners was abolished and the Confederate records eventually became part of the Collection of Confederate Records in the War Department. That collection now comprises National Archives Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records."
Why this Record Was Created
Opposing armies kept an account of war prisoners so as to effectively trade them for their own soldiers. Prisoners were exchanged on the following basis:
- 1 general = 46 privates
- 1 major general = 40 privates
- 1 brigadier general = 20 privates
- 1 colonel = 15 privates
- 1 lieutenant colonel = 10 privates
- 1 major = 8 privates
- 1 captain = 6 privates
- 1 lieutenant = 4 privates
- 1 noncommissioned officer = 2 privates
Record accuracy depends largely on the accuracy of the document authors and may be subject to inacurracies.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023
Sources of Information for This Collection
United States. War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners; Surgeon General's Office. Selected Records to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865. Record Group 109, NARA publication M598. Federal Archives and Records Center. Washington D.C.