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Civil War Prisons

During the Civil War, captured soldiers were originally being held in barns and warehouses.  As the war progressed, camps were converted into prisons, some were constructed, and some previously existing federal prisons were converted.  According to the National Park Service, there was over 150 military prisons, the largest of which was Camp Sumter in Andersonville, Georgia where 45,000 Union soldiers were held. Throughout the course of the war, there were 194,732 Union soldiers held in Confederate prisons, and 220,000 Confederate soldiers held in Union prisons.  Approximately 56,000 died while in prison from starvation, injuries and rampant diseases.  

Learning more about Civil War prisons can help lead you to more information about your ancestors.  Some northern prisons holding Confederate soldiers were even guarded by former slaves.  

A collection of images, lists, and registers in 429 volumes of Confederate Prisoners of War records can be searched for FREE through FamilySearch at https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index#uri=https://www.familysearch.org/recapi/sord/collection/1916234/waypoints

U.S. Civil War Prisoners of War Records can be searched, for a fee, through Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1124

Following is a list of some Civil War prison locations and websites where you can find more information.  Most of the following websites do not offer prison rosters.  But you can contact the site directors by phone or e-mail to request information.

Alabama, Cahaba (Union prisoners) – Cahaba/Cahawba Prison, http://cahawba.com/cahaba-federal-prison/

Delaware, Pea Patch Island (Confederate and Union prisoners) – Fort Delaware, http://www.destateparks.com/park/fort-delaware/civil-war/index.asp

Florida, Gulf Breeze, Santa Rosa Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Pickens, https://www.recreation.gov/camping/fort-pickens-campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=97219

Florida, Key West, Garden Key (Confederate and Union prisoners) – Fort Jefferson/”Devil’s Island”, https://www.nps.gov/drto/learn/historyculture/fort-jefferson.htm

Georgia, Andersonville (Union prisoners) – Camp Sumter/Andersonville Prison Camp, https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-prisoners.htm

Georgia, Atlanta (Union prisoners) – Fulton County Jail, http://www.fultonsheriff.org/county-jail.html

Georgia, Blackshear (Union prisoners) – Blackshear Prison, http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/506-blackshear-civil-war-prison-camp

Georgia, Cockspur Island (Union prisoners) – Fort Pulaski, https://www.nps.gov/fopu/learn/historyculture/the-immortal-six-hundred.htm

Georgia, Macon (Union prisoners) – Fort Oglethorpe Prison, https://fortogov.com/

Georgia, Millen (Union prisoners) – Camp Lawton, http://gastateparks.org/MagnoliaSprings/

Georgia, Thomasville (Union prisoners) – Thomasville Prison, http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/thomasvilleprison.html

Illinois, Alton (Confederate prisoners) – Alton Military Prison, http://www.altonweb.com/history/civilwar/confed/#search

Illinois, Chicago (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Douglas, http://www.campdouglas.org/

Illinois, island between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa (Confederate prisoners) – Rock Island Prison/Arsenal Island, http://www.arsenalhistoricalsociety.org/museum/

Illinois, Springfield (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Butler, https://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/nchp/campbutler.asp

Indiana, Indianapolis (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Morton, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/indiana/crown_hill_confederate_plot.html

Kentucky, Lexington (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Nelson, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/lexington/civilwar.htm

Maryland, Baltimore (Confederate prisoners) – Fort McHenry, https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-prisoners.htm

Maryland, St. Mary’s County (Confederate prisoners) – Point Lookout Prison/Camp Hoffman, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/maryland/point_lookout_confederate_cemetery.html

Massachusetts, Boston, Georges Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Warren, http://archive.boston.com/travel/explorene/specials/outdoors/articles/2009/09/20/georges_island_peace_and_play_on_a_war_footing/

Mississippi, Ship Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Massachusetts, https://www.nps.gov/guis/learn/historyculture/fort-massachusetts.htm

Missouri, St. Louis (Confederate prisoners) – Gratiot Street Prison, http://www.civilwarstlouis.com/Gratiot/List.htm

New York, Bedloe’s Island/Liberty Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Wood, https://www.nps.gov/places/fort-wood-fort-gibson.htm

New York, David’s Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Slocum, www.nps.gov/cwdw/learn/historyculture/fort-slocum.htm

New York, Elmira (Confederate prisoners) – Elmira Prison, http://www.elmiraprisoncamp.com/

New York, Governor’s Island (Confederate prisoners) – Fort Jay/Fort Columbus/Castle Williams, https://www.nps.gov/gois/index.htm

North Carolina, Salisbury (Confederate prisoners) – Salisbury Prison, http://www.salisburyprison.org/PrisonHistory.htm

Ohio, Columbus (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Chase, https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/lots/campchase.asp#gi

Ohio, Columbus (Confederate prisoners) – Ohio Penitentiary, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Penitentiary

Ohio, Sandusky (Confederate prisoners) – Johnson’s Island, http://www.johnsons-island.org/

South Carolina, Charleston Harbor (Union prisoners) – Castle Pinckney, https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2009/10/pruning-parks-castle-pinckney-national-monument-1933-19564731

South Carolina, Columbia (Union prisoners) – Castle Sorghum, http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/27152

South Carolina, Florence County (Union prisoners) – Florence Stockade Camp, http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/26656

Texas, Tyler (Union prisoners) – Camp Ford, http://campford.us/about-us-2/

Virginia, Belle Isle (Union prisoners) – Belle Isle, http://www.mdgorman.com/Prisons/belle_isle_prison.htm

Virginia, Danville (Union prisoners) – Danville Prison, http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/danvilleprison.html

Virginia, Hampton (Confederate prisoners) – Fortress Monroe, http://www.fmauthority.com/about/fort-monroe/history/

Virginia, Richmond (Confederate prisoners) – Castle Thunder, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Castle_Thunder_Prison

Virginia, Richmond (Union prisoners) – Libby Prison, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Libby_Prison

Washington, D.C. (Confederate prisoners) – Old Capitol Prison, http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/washington/other-government-buildings/government-buildings-old-capitol-prison/

Wisconsin, Madison (Confederate prisoners) – Camp Randall, http://www.historicmadison.org/Madison%27s%20Past/connectingwithourpast/camprandallprisoncamp.html

 

 

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