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  • Capt.(CSA) Immortal 600, John Cowan (1842 - 1900)
    Capt. Co. D 3NC Inf. Captured by Union forces. Reference: FamilySearch Family Tree - SmartCopy : Jan 1 2019, 20:41:41 UTC First enlisted in the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Co I
  • Col. Abram Fulkerson (CSA) (1834 - 1902)
    Abram Fulkerson (May 13, 1834 – December 17, 1902) was a Confederate officer during the American Civil War, and a Virginia lawyer and politician. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates, as well...
  • Capt. James Daniel Meadows (CSA) (1827 - 1900)
    James Daniel Meadows was a member of the Immortal 600. James D. Meadows was a Captain in the C.S.A. He served in Company A (Tallapoosa Rifles) 1st. Alabama Infantry Regiment. He participated in the...
  • Col. John Lucas Cantwell (CSA) (1828 - 1909)
    Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish American War. Col of 51st NC, resigned. Became Captain of Company in the 3rd NC Infantry. Captured at "Bloody Angle" in battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Sent to p...
  • Capt. Junius Lackland Hempstead (CSA) (1842 - 1920)
    He was an award-winning sculptor, working with the finest marble from Italy; he wrote poetry, a romance book and a detective novel; his father was Governor of the State of Iowa; but he is most remember...

In June of 1864, the Confederate Army imprisoned five generals and forty-five Union Army officers as human shields against federal artillery in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, in an attempt to stop Union artillery from firing upon the city. In retaliation, United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered fifty captured Confederate officers, of similar ranks, to be taken to Morris Island, South Carolina, at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. The Confederates were only landed on Morris Island late in July of that year.

The premise of the Confederate demand started with the allegation that Charleston should not be shelled. The correspondence between Major-General John Foster, commanding the Federal Department of the South, and Major-General Samuel Jones, commanding Confederate Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, indicates the Confederates accepted the military nature of Charleston as a target. Soon the correspondence turned to an exchange of these high ranking prisoners.

Instructions from the War Department reached Foster in late July, and he coordinated an exchange of the fifty prisoners on July 29. Exchange of the fifty officers actually took place on August 4, 1864. However, at that time Jones brought 600 prisoners to Charleston, in part to press for a larger prisoner exchange. In retaliation for the treatment of Federal prisoners, Foster asked for a like number of Confederate prisoners to be placed on Morris Island. These men became known in the South as the Immortal Six Hundred.

At one point General Foster planned an exchange of the six hundred, but it was stopped by General Grant who had previously terminated all prisoner of war exchanges due to the history of Confederate mistreatment of captured US colored troops and wrote, "In no circumstances will he be allowed to make exchanges of prisoners of war ."

The Confederate prisoners did not arrive on Morris Island until the first week of September 1864. During the first week of October 1864, Jones (under orders from Lieutenant-General William Hardee) removed the Federal prisoners from Charleston. Foster only removed the Confederate prisoners from Morris Island after being informed officially of the Federal prisoners' status. At that time the Immortal 600 were moved to Fort Pulaski.

Three of the six hundred died from subsistence on starvation rations issued as retaliation for the conditions found by the Union at the Confederate prisons in Andersonville, Georgia, and Salisbury, North Carolina.

Upon an outbreak of yellow fever in Charleston, the Union officers were removed from the city limits. In response the Union Army transferred the Immortal Six Hundred to Fort Pulaski outside of Savannah. Sign on a room where Confederate soldiers were confined at Fort Pulaski

There they were crowded into the fort’s cold, damp casemates. For 42 days, a "retaliation ration" of ten ounces of moldy cornmeal and half a pint of soured onion pickles was the only food issued to the prisoners. The starving men were reduced to supplementing their rations with the occasional rat or stray cat. Thirteen men died there of diseases such as dysentery and scurvy.

At Fort Pulaski, the prisoners organized "The Relief Association of Fort Pulaski for Aid and Relief of the Sick and Less Fortunate Prisoners" on December 13, 1864. Col. Abram Fulkerson of the 63rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment was elected president. Out of their sparse funds, the prisoners collected and expended eleven dollars, according to a report filed by Fulkerson on December 28, 1864.

Five later died at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The remaining prisoners were returned to Fort Delaware on March 12, 1865, where another twenty-five died.

A notable escape effort was led by Captain Henry Dickinson of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry. On the prisoner's journey to Fort Delaware, Dickinson organized a group of thirteen officers, including Colonel Paul F. DeGournay of the 12th Battalion, Louisiana Artillery and Colonel George Woolfolk, to try to escape from the gunboat. However, the effort failed when the captain of the ship noticed one of the 13 men was missing, leading the prisoners to the brig below the deck of the ship.

The prisoners became known throughout the South for their refusal to take the Oath of Allegiance under adverse circumstances. Southerners have long lauded their refusal as honorable and principled. However, it should be noted that Foster and other Federal leaders issued orders that no such oaths would be accepted in the case of the 600 prisoners, due to the circumstances of their captivity.