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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course United States: Institutional Records  by Amy Johnson Crow, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Military Prisons and Prisoner of War Camps


The military has separate facilities to deal with its members who break the law or the rules of the military. Military prison records are similar to those of civilian prisons. Details of a soldiers stay in prison are usually detailed in their compiled service record, available at the National Archives.

Records of prisoner of war camps are different. First, they are not held by the state or federal prison system; they are in the records of state adjutants general and in the National Archives.

Roster of Prisoners
The basic record of a prisoner of war camp is the roster. Most list the prisoner’s name, rank, unit, date of admittance into the prison, and home state. Some will give information on the capture.

Below shows a roster of prisoners from Johnson’s Island, a prison for Confederate prisoners, located in Lake Erie, off the shores of Ottawa County, Ohio.

Figure: Example of a Roster of Prisoners from a Confederate Prison



Hospital, Death, and Cemetery Records
Andersonville. Elmira. Florence. Rock Island. The names of these prisoner of war camps can send chills down the spine of anyone who has studied the Civil War. The number of dead in these camps, and others, was staggering.

The information about prisoner deaths is often limited to the prisoner’s name, rank, unit, date and cause of death, and disposition of the body. Many of the dead were buried in cemeteries near the prison, either cemetery solely for the prison or in a special plot in a local cemetery. The image below shows deaths in Camp Chase Prison, Columbus, Ohio.

Figure: Death Records in Camp Chase Prison


Figure: Photo titled “Camp Chase Cemetery, C
olumbus, Ohio”
Photo taken by Amy Johnson Crow, 8 October 2004.











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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Institutional Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.