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Died as a POW - US Civil War

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Please add profiles for those who died as a POW in the US Civil War.


Please also include any pertinent info in their About section relating to this, include the camp if known. If the cause of their death is know, please add them to that project (ie: died of disease, or died of wounds, etc.)


Although precise figures may never be known, an estimated 56,000 men perished in Civil War prisons, a casualty rate far greater than any battle during the war's bloody tenure.

American Civil War Prison Camps were operated by both the Union and the Confederacy to handle the 409,000 soldiers captured during the war from 1861 to 1865. The Record and Pension Office in 1901 counted 211,000 Northerners who were captured. In 1861-63 most were immediately paroled; after the parole exchange system broke down in 1863, about 195,000 went to prison camps. Some tried to escape but few succeeded. By contrast 464,000 Confederates were captured (many in the final days) and 215,000 imprisoned. Over 30,000 Union and nearly 26,000 Confederate prisoners died in captivity. Just over 12% of the captives in Northern prisons died, compared to 15.5% for Southern prisons.

The overall mortality rates in prisons on both sides were similar, and quite high. Many Southern prisons were located in regions with high disease rates, and were routinely short of medicine, doctors, food and ice. Northerners often believed their men were being deliberately weakened and killed in Confederate prisons, and demanded that conditions in Northern prisons be equally harsh, even though shortages were not a problem in the North. About 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the war, accounting for almost 10% of all Civil War fatalities. During a period of 14 months in Camp Sumter, located near Andersonville, Georgia, 13,000 (28%) of the 45,000 Union soldiers confined there died. At Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois, 10% of its Confederate prisoners died during one cold winter month; and Elmira Prison in New York state, with a death rate of 25%, very nearly equaled that of Andersonville.

Prisons often engendered conditions more horrible than those on the battlefield. The Union's Fort Delaware was dubbed "The Fort Delaware Death Pen," while Elmira prison in New York saw nearly a 25 percent mortality rate. The South's infamous Camp Sumter, or Andersonville prison, claimed the lives of 29 percent of its inmates.

More than 150 prisons were established during the war. All were filled beyond capacity, with inmates crowded into camps and shelters with meager provisions.

Hardened veterans, scarcely strangers to the sting of battle, nevertheless found themselves ill-prepared for the horror and despondency awaiting them inside Civil War prison camps.  While they often wrote frankly of the carnage wrought by bullets smashing limbs and grapeshot tearing ragged holes through advancing lines, many soldiers described their prisoner of war experiences as a more heinous undertaking altogether.

Many-- between 45,00 and 50,000--died in prison from wounds, from infectious diseases such as smallpox, or, most commonly and tragically, from illnesses related to substandard sanitary conditions, contaminated food and water, abysmal nutrition, and from lack of proper clothing and shelter. Medical care, already woefully strained in each army's own hospitals, was even more scarce for enemy prisoners. Some soldiers killed each other, or themselves, under the duress of prison life.

The rules of war dictated that enemy prisoners should be treated humanely, and both sides attempted to comply even though the transportation, care, and guarding of prisoners provided tremendous logistical challenges from the outset to armies that had enough trouble keeping their own troops fed and clothed. Not every experience behind camp walls was the same, however.  Some soldiers fared better in terms of shelter, clothing, rations, and overall treatment by their captors.  Others suffered from harsh living conditions, severely cramped living quarters, outbreaks of disease, and sadistic treatment from guards and commandants.

PARTIAL LIST OF PRISON CAMPS DURING THE CIVIL WAR

ANDERSONVILLE PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Andersonville National Historic Site)

  • This was a military prison in Georgia. It was built when it became evident that such large influx of prisoner's were creating a military hazard in Richmond and were also a drain on the local food supply. Formerly called SUMTER CAMP and is located 10 miles northeast of Americus, GA., the prison was made up of log stockade of 16 1/2 acres, due to the large increase in the prison population, it was later increased to 26 acres with a stream running thru it. Rations were the same as those of the Confederate soldier out in the field: Corn meal, bean, and rarely if any meat. The disease and death rate were astronomically high due to poor sanitation, crowding, exposure to weather, and poor diet which contribute to unhealthty conditions.
  • Only enlisted men were confined there and in the summer of 1864 the population was counted at 32,899 men. There are 12,912 graves in the National Cemetery there. This camp was in existence from February 1864 to April 1865.

BELLE ISLE: (For more info see: Encyclopedia Virginia - Belle Isle prison)

  • This was a Confederate prison in the James Rivers at Richmond, VA. Confined only enlisted men, it was occupied continuously after the 1st Bull Run Campaign. At the end of 1863 over 10,000 men were confined. The men were moved to Andersonville Prison due to the stress on the city's food supply.

CAHABA PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Cahaba Prison)

  • This camp was located in Alabama and was used by the Confederates, it was started in 1864. It consisted of an old cotton shed, partly covered, and had bunks for 500 men, by October 1864 more than 2,000 men were confined there. Prisoner's cook their own food, and the water was abundant but at one time it was polluted.

CAMP CHASE: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Camp Chase & National Cemeteries - Ohio Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery)

  • This was first used as a training camp which later on was converted to a Federal Prison camp. It is located west of Columbus, Ohio. In 1863 the population was 8,000 prisoner's.

CAMP DOUGLAS: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Camp Douglas (Chicago))

  • This camp was originally a training camp for Illinois Volunteers, was converted to prison camp after the fall of Ft. Donelson. It consisted of 60 acres and was located south of Chicago, Illinois. Total population was 30,000. It was closed down in November 1865.

CAMP FORD: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Camp Ford)

  • This camp was located near Tyler and Hemstead, Texas. It was the largest Confederate-run prison west of the Mississippi River. Both enlisted men and officers were confined there. Started in 1863. It held prisoner's till the end of the war. Prisoner's at Camp Ford built logs cabins, and the food, water, sanitary conditions were more than adequate, however, after the Bank's Red River Campaign of 1864, a large increase in the influx of prisoner's resulted in unhealthy sanitation.

CAMP GROSE:

  • This camp was located near Tyler and Hemstead, Texas. It consisted mainly of an open field enclosed by guard line. No other information available.

CAMP LAWTON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Camp Lawton (Georgia))

  • This was a Confederate Prison located at Millen, GA., was built in the summer of 1864 to take care of the exceeding growth of prisoner's from Andersonville Prison. It consisted (almost in the likeness of the Andersonville Prison), square stockade enclosing about 42 acres with the interior divided by streets into divisions. Prisoner's made their own hut from branches of the trees used in the stockade. In November 1864, the prison camp confined 10,000 men.

CAMP MORTON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Camp Morton & Camp Morton - Civil War Camp & Union Prison 1861-1865, Indianapolis, Indiana)

  • This was a Federal Prison located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Originally the site of the fairground, it consisted of barracks without floor or sturdy walls. In the winter, the barracks were impossible to keep clean and fuel was scarce. More than 1,700 Confederate soldiers died there during the course of the war.

CAMP SUMTER: (For more info see: National Park Service - Camp Sumter / Andersonville Prison)

  • Located at Andersonville, GA., it was the original name for Andersonville Prison. (See Andersonville Prison).

CASTLE PINCKNEY:(For more info see: Wikipedia - Castle Pinckney)

  • This was a Confederate Prison at Charleston, SC., normally confined only enlisted men, there were officers being held there too, one of the them was General Micheal Corcoran, after he was captured, he served for a period of one year.

ELMIRA PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Elmira Prison)

  • Located near Elmira, NY., this prison was started in May 1864, by enclosing barracks on the Chemung River when, after the exchange of prisoner's was halted, the Union's facilities were found to be inadequate. The building that house the prisoner's could only hold half the population ( 10,000 men), other were forced to live in tent even during hard winter. Death rate was estimated at 5% of the population each month and the disease, health problem were astronomically high. Ten percent of the prisoner's had no blanket or cover to keep warm and the food was scanty and spoiled. Only enlisted men were confined there.

GRATIOT STREET PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Gratiot Street Prison)

  • Originally the site of a medical college in St. Louis, MO., this was a Federal Prison, held, in addtion to prisoner's of war, Union Army deserters, bounty jumpers, spies, bushwackers, and disloyal citizens. The building held 500 men with safety but with the influx of prisoner's, it was not uncommon to have over 1,000 men confined there. The men were a desperate and violent group, and the building was set on fire twice by them.

JOHNSON'S ISLAND: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Johnson's Island)

  • This was a Union Prison camp in Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie in Ohio. Population was over 3,000 Confederate officers on the island at the end of the Civil War.

LIBBY PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Libby Prison)

  • This prison was the original site of a warehouse of Libby and Sons, on the James River in Richmond, VA.. Only officers were confined there, and perhaps is the most notorious prison after Andersonville. It was a temporary shelter after a series of threatening Union cavalry raids forced the Confederate soldiers to send the inmates to a new prison at Macon, GA. in May 1864.

OLD CAPITOL PRISON: (For more info see: Wikipedia - Old Capitol Prison & My Civil War - Old Capitol prison)

  • This prison mainly confined the prisoner's of war, deserters, suspected spies, and persons awaiting trail. Originally the building was a substitute for U.S. Capitol burned by the British in 1812. Once used as a hotel, it was in dilapidated and run down condition when it was put into use by the Federals.

POINT LOOKOUT: (For more info see: My Civil War - Point Lookout)

  • This Federal Prison was in Maryland, located where the Potomac runs into Chesapeake Bay. It was established in August 1, 1863, although there were sufficient shelters, there were no barrack, all enlisted men, living in tent. Population was near 20,000.

ROCK ISLAND PRISON: (For more info see: My Civil War - Rock Island Prison)

  • This Federal Prison was on an island in the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. There were 84 barracks in six rows of 14 each one measured 82 x 22 x 12 feet with a cookhouse for each one. High fence enclosed this island that measured three miles by one and half mile in size. Water was scarce and for a time it was nonexistence. 5,000 prisoner's were sent there in December 1863, population was near 8,000 at the end of the war.

SALISBURY PRISON: (For more info see: https://www.ncpedia.org/confederate-prison-salisbury)

  • This Confederate prison was located in North Carolina and was established in November 1861. It was first designed for spies. Confederate soldiers being court-martialed and deserters as well as prisoner's of war. The first of the Federals came in December 1861 and by March 1862, there were over 1,500. Food was abundant, quarters were spacious, the weather was salubrious, and in March only one inmate died. These condition lasted until early 1864, when the prison capacity was reached, by October 1864, there were over 10,000 soldiers being confined. From October 1864 to February 1865, 3,419 prisoner's died there.

Many of these Civil War prison camps still exist and are maintained by the U.S. National Park Service, who has opened them up to the public for tours and visits.

For Further Reading:

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