History and Photos

ELMIRA PRISON CAMP FACTS

Operated for 370 days from 6 July 1864 – 11 July 1865

Built for 5,000 prisoners “with crowding.”

Held 12,121 prisoners with approx. 10,500  at any one time.

2,970 died (24.5%) death rate.  Highest death rate of any Union prison camp.

Also known as “Hellmira.”

 

North Carolina 1,228 deaths 41.3% of all camp deaths
Virginia 576 19.4%
South Carolina 397 13.3%
Georgia 382 12.9%
Alabama 241 8.1%
Tennessee 82
Louisiana 69
Florida 48
Texas 17
Mississippi 10
Arkansas 2
Missouri 1
Unknown 7

Note:  1,154 Fort Fisher prisoners were sent to the Elmira Prison Camp.  457 died in Elmira and are buried in the Woodlawn National Cemetery.  Fort Fisher deaths in Elmira account for 15.4% of all prison camp deaths.

 

   “LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS IN ELMIRA” 

                            Elmira Prison and Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, New York

By Tom Fagart, Concord, NC

Board Member Friends of Elmira Civil War Prison Camp, Elmira, NY. www.elmiraprisoncamp.com, Member Friends of Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, NC   www.friendsoffoortfisher.com

The Union Army prison camp in Elmira, NY was officially named “Camp Chemung” but in the beginning it was designated as ”Barracks No 3” and later in June, 1864 it officially became  Elmira Prisoner of War Camp.  The Confederate prisoners named  it Hellmira.  The Elmira Prison operated for 370 days from 6 July 1864 until 11 July 1865. Elmira incarcerated a total of 12,121 Confederate soldiers.  The prison was originally built on about 20 acres of land, later expanded to about 30 acres and was located about a mile and a half from the town of Elmira, NY.  The land was located along a piece of land next to the Chemung River.  This land also incorporated a pond known as Foster’s Pond. Foster’s Pond would become the major cause of deaths among the Confederate prisoners.  This land during the 1850’s was twice used for the New York State Fair and included a race track.

The prison camp was built to house 5,000 prisoners “with crowding”.   Wooden buildings were built to provide shelter for 5,000 Confederate troops.  When these building were filled to capacity, tents were then used for the remainder of the troops.  The harsh winter, disease, lack of food and proper medical attention took a very heavy toll on the men.  Out of a total of 12,121 Confederate prisoners, *2,970 died a 24.5% death rate.  Elmira Prison operated for 370 days and had 2,970 deaths equaling         8 deaths per day.

All eleven Confederate States plus Missouri are represented in the burials in the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, Chemung County, NY.  North Carolina had the most number of Confederate deaths (1,228 or 41.3%).  Virginia had the second most with (576 or 19.4%).  South Carolina was the third at (397 or 13.3%), Georgia (382 or 12.9%), Alabama ( 241 deaths), Tennessee (82 deaths), Louisiana (69 deaths), Florida (48 deaths), Texas (17 deaths), Mississippi (10 deaths), Arkansas ( 2 deaths) and  Missouri is last with (1 death). There are also seven “Unknown” Confederate graves in Woodlawn National.

Missouri’s lone Confederate soldier to die in Elmira and buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery is Corp. Matthew V. Carney,   Co F, 1st Missouri Cavalry.  He is from Springfield, Greene County, MO.  He died on 18 Dec 1864. Corp. Carney is buried in plot #1279.

               THE FIRST CONFEDERATE SOLDIER TO WALK  INTO THE ELMIRA PRISON WAS A TAR HEEL.                                                                       Pvt. Andrew J. “A.J.” Madra, Co F “The Spartan Band”, 30th NC Infantry Regiment from Tarboro, Edgecombe County, NC is credited to be the first prisoner to enter the Elmira Prison on 6 July 1864 writes M.M. Conklin as follows.

When I wrote you I had no idea of hearing from a friend an officer of the Elmira prison.  I say “friend” because I was so well treated by the troops there.  I was the first Rebel to enter the Elmira Prison.  Four hundred of us from Point Lookout were taken there.  I was at the head of the column, walking by the side of the U.S. sergeant, and he remarked to me! “You are the first “Reb” in the prison” 

This reference, information, and quote is taken from the book  “The Elmira Prison – A history of the Military Prison” by Clayton Wood Holms, published 1912, page 307.  Pvt. Madra was registered as prisoner #327.  Note: All Elmira Prison records mistakenly state that Pvt. A.J. Madra was in Co E, 30th NC.  He was in Co F, “The Spartan Band” from Edgecombe County, NC.

Pvt. A. J. Madra, Co F, 30th NC Infantry Regiment entered Elmira Prison on 6 July 1864.  He is listed in the prison records as prisoner #327 out of 600 men who were the first to enter Elmira.  He is listed as having been captured 20 May 1864 at Spotsylvania – Court House.  Reference: Elmira Prison Register 1862 – 1864 v. 218 – 220 image #14 of 394.

Pvt. A.J. Madra enlisted at age 18 on August 21, 1861.  He was present or accounted for until captured at South Mountain, MD on September 14, 1862.  Confined at Fort Delaware, Delaware.  Paroled and transferred to Aiken’s Landing, James River, Virginia on October 2, 1862.  Returned to duty prior to January 1, 1863.  Present or accounted for until wounded in the face at Chancellorsville, Virginia, May 1 – 4, 1863.  Returned to duty prior July 1, 1863.  Wounded in the hand and knee at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1 – 3, 1863.  Returned to duty prior to September 1, 1863.  Present or accounted for until captured at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia May 9 – 20 , 1864.  Confined at Point Lookout Prison, Maryland May 23, 1864.  Transferred to Elmira, New York on July 3, 1864.  Released at Elmira on June 19, 1865 after taking the Oath of Allegiance.       Reference: US GenWeb Archives.

Andrew J. Madra at the age of 59 on June 1, 1902 applied for and received A Confederate Soldiers Pension from the State of North Carolina.  His reason stated for making the pension application was disability from wounds received in the war.  His pension application also states that he was in Co F, 30th NC Infantry Regiment.     Reference: NC Digital Collection

Note: The 1st Confederate prisoner to be listed in the Elmira Prison is Pvt. John W. Arnold, Co I “Thompson Guards”, 61st Georgia Infantry from Bibb County, Georgia.  His name is listed as #1 on a list of 400 prisoners from Point Lookout, Maryland to arrive on 6 June 1864, the first shipment of prisoners to be received at the newly opened Elmira Prison.  Reference Elmira Prisoner Register 1862 – 1865 v. 218 – 220.  John Arnold died 14 October 1909 in Louisville, Kentucky and is buried in the St. John’s Cemetery, 26th & Duncan Street, Louisville, Kentucky.  Thanks to SCV Compatriot Greg C. White of the David W. Payne Camp, Blairsville, Georgia for locating the grave of Pvt. Arnold.  

                      THE FIRST CONFEDERATE DEATH TO BE RECORDED IN ELMIRA PRISON WAS A TAR HEEL.                                                                      He is Pvt. Abner Prevett from Beaufort County, of Co I, 4th NC Infantry.  Born about 1824, enlisted at age 39 on 21 Sep 1863.  Pvt. Prevett was captured at Spotsylvania 25 May 1864.  Explanation of his death is “died in passage from Pt. L O (Point Lookout Prison, MD) arrived Elmira 6 July 1864, died 5 July 1864.  Pvt. Prevett is #314 in a list of 400 prisoners received on 6 July 1864.  His grave location is #2855 in the Confederate section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery.  Reference information: Elmira Prisoner Register 1862 – 1865 V. 218 – 200, image #13 of 394 and Elmira Death Register 1864 – 1865 V. 222 – 224, image #307 of 373.

   THE FIRST CONFEDERATE DEATH IN THE ELMIRA PRISON CAMP WAS A VIRGINIAN

He is Pvt. William J. Stockdale from Augusta County, Co G “Veteran Guards”, 52nd VA Infantry.  He was captured at Spotsylvania, VA on 20 May 1864 and sent to Point Lookout, MD.  He arrived in Elmira with the first shipment of prisons on           6 July 1864.  He was listed as prisoner #226.  He died on 9 July 1864 and is buried in the Confederate section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, grave #2854.  No reason for his death is stated in any of the prison records most likely due to no medical facility located in the camp at that time.  Reference information: National Archives, United Sates Records of Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865, NY, Elmira, Military Prison, Prisoner Register, 1862 – 1865, v. 218 – 220, image 11 of 394 and Death Register, 1864 – 1865, v. 222 – 224, image 131 of 373

  THE LAST CONFEDERATE DEATH TO BE RECORDED IN ELMIRA PRISON WAS A TAR HEEL.                                                                             He is Pvt. Daniel Hough, Co F “Waxhaws No 2”, 48th NC Infantry Regiment.  Pvt. Daniel Hough is from Waxhaw, Union County, North Carolina. The 48th NC was organized at Camp Mangum, NC. Pvt. Captured Mine Run, VA 10 May 1864, joined station “Elmira” 6 Aug 1864, listed as prisoner #5778, and he was prisoner #709 to be delivered to Elmira on 6 Aug 1864.  Pvt. Hough died 13 July 1865 of chronic diarrhea, death #2933.   Pvt. Hough’s buried Confederate section, Woodlawn National Cemetery, grave #2917.  Reference information:  Elmira Prisoner Register 1862 – 1865 V. 218 – 220, image #178 of 394, image #280 of 373.  Elmira Death Register 1864 – 1865 V. 222 – 224 image #372 of 373.     

                       THE LAST CONFEDERATE SOLDIER PAROLED AND RELEASED FROM ELMIRA WAS A TAR HEEL.                                                                   He is Pvt. William A. Kesler, Co K, 8th NC Infantry Regiment.  Pvt. Kesler was born 4 March 1842 in Rowan County, near Salisbury, North Carolina.  He enlisted on 22 July 1861 in Co K at Salisbury, age 19, occupation farmer.  He was captured at Gaines Mill, Va on 1 June 1864 and sent to Point Lookout Prison, MD from there transferred to Elmira.  The Elmira prison was operated from 6 July 1864 to 11 July 1865 when it officially closed.   Pvt. Kesler was too sick to travel after being paroled so he was transferred to the nearby Union Army hospital at Camp Chemung on 18 July 1865.  On 11 September 1865 he was released from the Union Army hospital and returned to Rowan County, NC.  Less than three years later he died on 5 June 1868, aged 26 years, 3 mos., 1 day.   Apparently he never overcame his ill health acquired in Elmira.  Pvt. William A. Kesler is buried in the Union Lutheran Church Cemetery, Rowan County, NC.  He was the husband of Ellen Jane Arey Kesler, b. 12 Nov 1844, Rowan County, NC,  d. 8 Jan 1920, Rowan County, NC.  Ellen is buried alongside William.  Reference information:  “The Elmira Prison Camp, A History of the Military Prison at Elmira, NY” by Clayton Wood Homes 1912. Note for Mr. Homes book, page 275: quote “The last Rebel prisoner, a Mr. Kisther of NC sick in the hospital for a long time, left for home today”.  In this book, William Kesler’s name is misspelled “Kisther” and there is no reference to which company or regiment he belonged.

Confirmation as to Pvt. William A. Kester, Co K, 8th NC being the last Confederate soldier to leave Elmira is Elmira Prisoner Register 1862 – 1865 V. 221, image #148 of 319,  and Elmira Prisoner Register 1862 – 1865 V. 218 – 220, image #67 of 394.   Special note:  Pvt. Kesler’s grave may be seen on Find A Grave, memorial #146187672.  Pvt. William A. Kesler was indeed “the last man standing” from the Elmira Prison.

JEWISH CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS IN THE ELMIRA PRISON

It is estimated that approximately 10,000, Jewish Confederate soldiers fought in the War Between The States, 2,000 being officers.  “25 soldiers of the Hebrew faith occur who sleep their last sleep in the Woodlawn Cemetery at Elmira” – reference: “American Jewish Historical Society, No. 3”, Quarterly Issue, Papers presented at the Third Annual Meeting Held in Washington, December 26 and 27, 1894, pages 25 & 26.  Also, “The American Jew as Soldier and Patriot”, pages 25 & 26.

Thirteen of the 25 Jewish Confederate soldiers who died in the Elmira Prison and buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, NY are Tar Heels.  Five of these Tar Heels were captured at Fort Fisher, North Carolina on 15 January 1865.

                                                                                             North Carolina

Pvt. Levi Southard, Co A, 28th NC Inf.,                               Plot #2638                                                                                                                                                         Pvt. Edward Harris, Co G, 36th Reg., 2nd NC Artillery,     Plot #2585                                       Captured at Fort Fisher                                                                              Sgt. J. Sellers, Co G, 36th Reg., 2nd NC Artillery,                Plot #2537                                      Captured at Fort Fisher                                                                   Pvt. Henry Goodman, Co G, 36th Reg. 2nd NC Artillery    Plot #2237                                      Captured at Fort Fisher                                                                                                                                               Pvt. James M. Piner, Co E, 3rd NC Inf.,                                Plot #1964                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pvt. Daniel Jonas, Co D, 1st NC Inf.,                                    Plot #1442                                                                                                                                                        Cpl. Benjamin Bass, Co H, 45th NC Inf.,                              Plot #1443                                                                                                                                                 Pvt. Nathan Altman, Co G, 40th Regt., 3rd NC Artillery,   Plot #1361                                      Captured at Fort Fisher                                                                Pvt. Henry Daniel, Co F, 10th Regt., 1st NC Artillery,        Plot #1363                                      Captured at Fort Fisher                                                                 Pvt. J. Israel, Co E, 51st NC Inf.,                                            Plot #242                                                                                                                                                                           Pvt. Moses Simmons, Co G, 20th NC Inf.,                           Plot #275                                                                                                                                                                    Pvt. David Lewis, Co C, 22nd NC Inf.                                    Plot #144

                                                                                              South Carolina

Pvt. S.L. Daniels, Co B, 1st SC Cavalry                                  Plot #2704                                                                                                                    Pvt. James P. Altman, Co A, 21st SC  Inf.                             Plot # 2536                                                                                                           Pvt. D.W. Wolf, Co G, 25th SC Inf.                                        Plot #210

 

                                                                            Virginia       

Pvt. Elisha K. Harris,  Co G, 42nd VA. Inf.                        Plot #2172            Note: Records listed in error as Co C, Cobb’s Legion                       Pvt. Benjamin Davis, Co B, 6th VA. Inf                            Plot #1622                                                                                                                         Pvt. Joseph Newman, Co K, 20th VA. Inf.                       Plot # 191             Note:  Also listed as Co K, 50th VA.

                                                                                               Georgia

Pvt. Walter C. Morris, Co C, 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooter                 Plot # 2173                                                                                    Pvt. Jacob B. Eberhart, Co G, 7th GA Cavalry                                                    Plot # 614

                                                                                               Alabama

Pvt. I. Israel, Co D, 60th AL. Inf.                                           Plot # 1541         Note:  Corrected from Pvt. Joseph Israel, Co C, 61st AL.  Pvt. Joseph Harrison, Co A, 1st AL. Inf.                              Plot #1447

                                                                                                 Florida     

Pvt. M. William Daniel, Co A, 1st FL. Cavalry        Plot #1112        Note:  Corrected from Lawson Daniel,  Marianna Dragoons, FL.

    Tennessee

Pvt. Joel C. Cook, Co K, 63rd TN. Inf.                                  Plot #2719

 

References:   National Archives, United States, Records of Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865, NY, Elmira, Military Prison, Death Register, prisoner register, 1864 – 1865, v. 222 – 224.      National Park Service Soldiers & Sailors Database and Fort Fisher to Elmira, The Fatal Journey of 518 Confederate Soldiers by Richard Triebe.

TAR HEELS FROM FORT FISHER AND OTHER INTERESTING FACTS ON FORT FISHER MEN IN ELMIRA                     On 15 January 1865, Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina fell to Union forces.  The vast majority of Confederate forces captured at Fort Fisher were North Carolina soldiers.  The exact number of Confederate forces at Fort Fisher is not certain but what is known is that of all the Confederate forces that were captured at Fort Fisher, the vast majority 1.121 men, were sent to the Elmira Prison Camp in Elmira, NY.  These Fort Fisher men began arriving in Elmira on 30 January 1865.  Of the 1,121 men to be sent to Elmira, 761 or 68% were Tar Heels.  357 men were from South Carolina, and there were 3 Confederate Marines, two of whom are known buried in Elmira.

Out of the 1,121 Confederate soldiers to be sent to Elmira, 518 or 46% would die within five months.  The major causes of death would be diarrhea, pneumonia and small pox.

Out of the 518 Fort Fisher men to die, 372 would be Tar Heels.  In February 1865 there was an exchange of prisoners and the most sick in the Elmira Prison were paroled and sent to Virginia.  53 of the sick Tar Heel soldiers who were paroled would either die in transit or very soon died in various Confederate hospitals in Richmond, Raleigh, Greensboro, Weldon, and Charlotte.    319 Tar Heel Confederate soldier captured at Fort Fisher would die in the Elmira Prison and be buried in what is now the Confederate Section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery, in Elmira.   There are 2,970 Confederate grave in the Woodlawn National Cemetery of which 1,228 are graves of Tar Heel soldiers.  The 319 Fort Fisher men who are buried in Elmira are 25.9% of all Tar Heels in Woodlawn and are 10.7% of all deaths in the Elmira Prison.    134 Fort Fisher men who are buried in Elmira are from South Carolina and account for 34% of all South Carolina deaths in Elmira.

On 30 January 1865 the prisoners from Fort Fisher started arriving in Elmira after a voyage from Fort Fisher to Jersey City, NY and a prison train ride of 273 miles to Elmira.  Most of the soldiers who were captured at Fort Fisher lost their winter clothing and blankets due to the barracks at Fort Fisher catching fire during the bombardment.  When they arrived, all they had was what they were wearing at the time of their capture.  When they began arrived in Elmira on 30 January, there was about four feet on snow on the ground and then they had to march about a mile and a half to the prison from the Erie Railway Station.

The average age of the Fort Fisher men was nineteen years old.                                                                               

The youngest Fort Fisher man to be sent to Elmira is 17 year old Pvt. William H. Faulk  of Co E,  36th Regiment North Carolina, 2nd NC Artillery.   He was 15 years old when he enlisted at Columbus County, NC on 9 Feb  1863. He was exchanged on the James River 2 Mar 1865.  Pvt. Faulk is most likely buried in the Tabor City / Whiteville, Columbus County, NC area.  Location of his grave has not been determined.

The oldest Fort Fisher man was fifty-six year old Pvt. Samuel Hales of Co D,  36th Reg. NC. 2nd NC Artillery.  He was born in 1808 and was fifty-four when he enlisted at Blockerville in Cumberland County, NC on 26 Feb. 1862.  He was transferred to Point Lookout and exchanged on the James River 2 Mar 1865. “Prison records spell his last name Hale”.  Location of his grave has not been determined.

Three Confederate Marines who were captured at Fort Fisher died in Elmira and are buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery.  Pvt. William Brown, Grave  #2562,  Pvt. James Drew , Grave #2121 and Pvt. Frank A. Dean, Grave “Unknown”.  Pvt. Dean was wounded at Fort Fisher, concussion of brain, sent to Elmira.  At the end of the war, he was suffering from diarrhea, the Elmira Prison Camp closed and he was sent to the Union Army Hospital in Elmira where he died on 18 July 1865.  There is no record of his burial in Elmira.  It has to be assumed that he was buried as an “Unknown Confederate Soldier”.

Five  Jewish Confederate Artillerymen who were captured at Fort Fisher died in the Elmira Prison.                                                                      Pvt. Edward Harris, 3rd Co G, 36th Reg., 2nd NC Artillery,    Plot #2585                                                                                                                                        Sgt. J. Sellers, 3rd Co G, 36th Reg., 2nd NC Artillery,    Plot #2537                                                                                                                           Pvt. Henry Goodman, 3rd Co G, 36th Reg., 2nd NC Artillery,    Plot #2237                                                                                                                              Pvt. Nathan Altman, Co G, 40th Reg., 3rd NC Artillery,    Plot #1361                                                                                                                      Pvt. Henry Daniel, Co F, 10th Reg., 1st NC Artillery,    Plot #1363

The deadliest month for Fort Fisher men was March 1865 when over 200 of them died in the Elmira Prison.

             THE LUCKIEST FORT FISHER MAN BEYOND DOUBT WAS PVT. HENRY VINES FROM COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC

The luckiest Fort Fisher man may have been Pvt. Henry Vines, 3rd Co G, 36th NC Artillery, born 5 July 1843, enlisted 30 Apr 1862, Brunswick County, Wilmington, NC at age 20.  He had both legs amputated to the knees because of frostbite.  He survived all the other conditions in Elmira.  When the Elmira Prison closed on 11 July 1865, he was sent to the US Army Hospital in Elmira from where he was paroled and released on 26 July 1865 and returned to North Carolina. He was born 5 July 1843 and died 5 February 1911.  Pvt. Vines is buried in the Vines Cemetery, Delco, Columbus County, North Carolina.  His headstone reads “He was a faithful soldier in the Confederate war and served under Carl Lamb and Capt. Daniel Russel Company G, 36 NC”.  The other side reads “Make the perfect man & behold the upright for the end of that man is peace”. “Gone but not forgotten”.

Pvt. Henry Vines was much luckier than five other compatriots who were also captured at Fort Fisher.  These five men died of Gangrene of the feet caused by frostbite.  They are buried in the Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, NY.                                                                                                                                                  Cpl. Joseph Carroll from Elizabethtown, Bladen County, NC., 2nd Co K, 40th Reg., 3rd NC Artillery   Plot #2962                                          Pvt. John A. Folks from Whiteville, Columbus County, NC, 2nd Co A, 36th Regiment, 2nd NC Artillery   Plot #1672                                                                            Pvt. Pipkin Galloway from Darlington, SC, Co H, 21st South Carolina Volunteers   Plot #2397                                                                                         Sgt. Samuel Joyner from Whiteville, Columbus County, NC, Co E, 36th Regiment, 2nd NC Artillery   Plot #2148                                                          Pvt. Chancy G. Mercer from Brunswick County, NC, 2nd Co A, 36th Regiment, 2nd NC Artillery   Plot #1696

THE LAST SURVIVING FORT FISHER PRISONER 

                                      The last surviving Fort Fisher soldier is Pvt. George Washington Benson, Co H, 36th Regiment, 2nd NC Artillery.  He was a prisoner at Point Lookout, MD not Elmira Prison Camp.  Pvt. Benson was born 4 Nov 1846 in Bladen County, NC.  His obituary states “ George W. Benson was the last survivor of Fort Fisher’s garrison when he died on 1 June 1948 in Charlotte, NC.  He faithfully served his 32 pounder on the fort’s land face and saw his comrades perish one by one from the fleet’s bombardment and then by the Federal infantry attack.  Benson was taken prisoner, survived Point Lookout Prison and went home.  He is the oldest Confederate War Veteran in Mecklenburg County.  He retired from Southern Rail Road after 32 years as a ticket agent.”  Pvt. Benson is buried in the Newell Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC.

Note:  Pvt. Benson was one of the 639 prisoners of war sent to Point Lookout, MD after Fort Fisher fell on 15 January 1865.  The overwhelming majority of, 1,121 Confederate soldiers captured at Fort Fisher were sent to the Elmira Prison, NY.

NOTE: National Archives, US Records of Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865, NY, Elmira, Military Prison, Prisoner Register, 1862 – 1865, v. 218 – 220, images 343 to 374 of 399 shows the following information in prisoner lists.  Images 343 to 355 of 399 show that 501 Fort Fisher prisoners arrived in Elmira on 30 January 1865.  Images 357 to 374 of 399 show that 653 Fort Fisher prisoners arrived in Elmira on 1 February 1865.  This combined total is 1,154 prisoners not 1,121.

Reference:                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Fort Fisher to Elmira, The Fatal Journey of 518 Confederate Soldiers” by Richard H. Triebe                                                                    “Roster of North Carolina Troops in The War Between The States”                                                                                                          “Columbus County North Carolina GenWeb”                                                                                                                                                     “Friends of Fort Fisher” website                                                                                                                                                                               “National Archives”,  US Records of Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865, NY, Elmira, Military Prison, Prisoner Register, 1862 – 1865, v. 218 – 220, images 343  to  374 of 399.

 

  THE CONFEDERATE ROLL OF HONOR AND CONFEDERATE MEDAL OF HONOR

There are two Confederate soldiers who died in Elmira that are eligible for the Sons of Confederate Veteran’s Medal of Honor. These men are Tar Heels. The Confederacy never created a medal recognizing exceptional valor and gallantry in battle for the Confederate soldier like the Union Army Medal of Honor.  However, the Confederacy did have the Confederate Roll of Honor.  After the war, the United Daughters of The Confederacy did create a medal and a grave marker in the form of a cross that is still used today.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans has created a Confederate Medal of Honor which can be presented to the men who’s names were placed on the Confederate Roll of Honor. Two Confederate soldiers who’s  names were placed on the Confederate Roll of Honor died in the Elmira Prison and are buried in the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira.  These two men have been buried in Elmira for over 150 years and without recognition on their grave for their exceptional recognition.

                                            Two Confederate Roll of Honor soldiers buried in Elmira are Tar Heels.

Pvt. Elisha H. Eure from Nash County, NC, Co E, 7th NC Infantry.  Pvt. Eure’s name was placed on the Roll of Honor  for his conduct in the Battle of Chancellorsville, VA on 5 May 1863.  He died in the Elmira Prison on 2 Feb 1865 and is buried in grave #1768.

Pvt. William F. Kilby from Wilkes County, NC, Co F “Western Carolina Stars”, 37th NC Infantry.  Pvt. Kilby name was placed on the Roll of Honor for his conduct in the Battle of Chancellorsville, VA  on 4 May 1863.  He died in the Elmira prison on 3 May 1865 and is buried in grave #2749.

 

  OTHER INTERESTING FACTS OF NORTH CAROLINA CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS BURIED IN THE CONFEDERATE SECTION OF WOODLAWN NATIONAL CEMETERY, ELMIRA, NEW YORK.                                                                              A “John Doe” from North Carolina:                                                                                                                                                                     This Confederate soldier from North Carolina is actually  Pvt. John C. Dough, Co B “Shaw Guards”, 8th NC.  Pvt. Dough is from Currituck County, NC.  He was captured at Cold Harbor on 1 Jun 1864.  Confined Point Lookout Prison, MD on 3 Jun 1864. Transferred to Elmira by the steamer “Crescent” via Jersey City, NY from Point Lookout, MD on 12 July 1964.  Special note:  being transferred from Point Lookout Prison on 12 July 1864 places Pvt. Dough on the prison train that originated in Jersey City, NJ that became famous and known as The Great Shohola Prison Train Wreck in Pennsylvania.  Pvt. Dough survived the train wreck but later died 22 Nov 1864 of “dirrhoea”.  He is grave #328 in the Confederate section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery.  His occupation was a fisherman in Currituck County prior to enlisting.  He is the son of Thomas T. and Sarah Dough of Currituck County, NC.  Pvt. John C. Dough had a brother Pvt. Thomas T. Dough, Co B “Shaw Guards”, 8th NC who also died in the Elmira Prison.  Thomas was also a fisherman in Currituck County, NC prior to enlisting.  Thomas was also captured at Cold Harbor but on 31 May 1864. He was also confined at Point Lookout Prison, MD and transferred to Elmira on 8 July 1864.  Thomas died 2 April 1865 of “pneumonia” and is buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery.

Pvt. William Riley Diggs, Co B, “OK Boys”, 31st NC.  William Diggs is from Anson County, NC and is the cousin of the famous Anson County resident Andrew Moorman “Mome” Diggs who rode with Jesse James.  On 26 January 1897 several Pinkerton Agents finally caught up with “Mome”.   “Mome” had given up his life of being an outlaw, returned to Anson County, NC and was working at the train depot in Marshville, Anson County when he pushed off the freight platform by Pinkerton Agents as an on rushing train came by.  Tried, convicted, and executed by Pinkerton Agents in Marshville, Anson County, NC.

  *SPECIAL NOTE: CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS BODIES EXHUMED AFTER THE WAR FROM ELMIRA CEMETERY*                                                                          After the war, 25 Confederate soldiers bodies buried in the now named Woodlawn National Cemetery  were claimed by family members and were removed and taken home.  Reference: Quartermaster Dept. 23 Sep 1874.  No record as to the names.  By including these 25 men, the overall death toll in the Elmira Prison would be 2,995.                     

ELMIRA CASUALTIES

                Camp Chemung, Barracks No. 3, Elmira Prison, aka “Hellmira” was originally built in 1864 to house 5,000 prisoners “with crowding” but it housed 12,121 Confederate prisoners.  A total of *2,970 prisoners died (averaging 8 per day), a death rate of 24.5% and were buried in the now named Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira.  These numbers of deaths and burials do not include the 25 Confederate soldiers who were disinterred after the war by their families and reburied in their home states.  A total of 3,019 Confederate soldiers are buried in Woodlawn and this number includes the 49 who were killed on 15 July 1864 in the Great Shohola Prison Train Wreck in Pennsylvania.  Every state in rebellion plus Missouri has soldiers buried in Woodlawn with North Carolina having the highest number of deaths.                                                                                                                                                                                        North Carolina     1,228        41% of all Elmira deaths        *319 from Fort Fisher  / 26% of NC deaths                                                                                                             Virginia                     576        19.4% of all Elmira deaths                                                                                                                                                             South Carolina        397         13.4% of all Elmira deaths      *134 from Fort Fisher / 34% of SC deaths                                                                                                                                                                 Georgia                    382                                                                                                                                                                     Alabama                  241                                                                                                                                                                      Tennessee                 82                                                                                                                                                                     Louisiana                    69                                                                                                                                                                                     Florida                        48                                                                                                                                                                         Texas                          17                                                                                                                                                                 Mississippi                 10                                                                                                                                                                     Arkansas                      2                                                                                                                                                                        Missouri                       1

                                            STATISTICS OF FORT FISHER DEATHS IN ELMIRA PRISON

1,121 Fort Fisher men were sent to the Elmira Prison in Elmira, New York                                                          North Carolina         761    319 died or 70% of all Fort Fisher men, 25.9% of all NC deaths, 10.7% of all Elmira deaths. South Carolina         357    134 died or 29% of all Fort Fisher men, 34% of all SC deaths, 4.5% of all Elmira deaths. Confederate States Marines   4    3 died – only 2 graves are identified – 1 may be buried as “Unknown”.                               

                                     ELMIRA, THE MOST DEADLY UNION  PRISONER OF WAR CAMP                                                              

 SUMMARY  There are 3,019 Confederate soldiers buried in the Confederate section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY.  This number of dead also includes 49 men who were killed in the Great Shohola Prison Train Wreck in Shohola, PA.  There were 12,121 prisoners in the Elmira Prison of which 2,970 died, a 24.5% death rate.  North Carolina soldiers suffered the highest number of deaths.  1,228 Tar Heel soldiers died in the Elmira Prison or 41.3% of all deaths during the 370 days of operation.      1,121 men captured at Fort Fisher were sent to Elmira. 761 or 68% were Tar Heels.  357 men were from South Carolina and 3 Confederate States Marines.  518 or 46% of these men would die within five months.  53 of the 518 were exchanged and would die either die in transit or in very soon in a Confederate hospital. Of the 518 to die, 372 are Tar Heels.  319 Tar Heel soldiers from Fort Fisher are buried in Elmira.  Fort Fisher men suffered a 46% death rate.

In 1937 the United Daughters of Confederacy placed a monument in the Confederate Section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira.  This is the only monument to Confederate  Soldiers in this cemetery.    There are no monuments from any Southern states in the Confederate Section of the Woodlawn National Cemetery.

RANK    PRISON                          NUMBER PASSED THROUGH     DEATHS     % OF DEATHS                                                                                    #1          Elmira, NY                                      12,121                             2,970             24.5%                                                                                           #2          Rock Island, IL                               12,400                             1,964             15.8%                                                                                          #3          Camp Douglas, IL                          26,060                             4,069             15.6%                                                                                           #4          Alton, IL                                          11,764                             1,508             12.8%                                                                                      #5          Camp Morton, IN                          17,000                             1,763             10.3%                                                                                  #6          Camp Chase, OH                           25,000                             2,260                9.0%                                                                                  #7          Fort Delaware, DL                         33,000                             2,460               7.5%                                                                                        #8          Point Lookout, MD                       52,264                             3,584                6.8%

Note:   The Confederate prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, GA opened in February 1864.  Approximately 45,000 Union prisoners passed through Andersonville.   12,913 or 28.7% died from many of the same causes of death at Elmira with the exception of health conditions brought on by freezing weather.  The conditions were so poor in July 1864, Capt. Wirtz, the Confederate camp commander, paroled five Union soldiers to deliver a petition signed by the majority of Andersonville’s prisoners asking that the Union reinstate prisoner exchanges in order to relieve the overcrowding and allow prisoners to leave.  The request in the petition was denied.  The Union soldiers who had sworn to do this returned to Andersonville to report to Capt. Wirz and their comrades.  After the war, Capt. Wirz was tried for the condition and deaths at Andersonville and hanged at the Old Capital Prison in Washington, DC    Capt. Henry Wirz “Heinrich Hartmann Wirz” was born in Zurich, Switzerland on 25 Nov. 1823.  He died 10 Nov. 1865 in Washington, DC.  He is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Reference:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Fort Fisher to Elmira” The Fatal Journey of 518 Confederate Soldiers”  –   by Richard H. Triebe.                                                            “Elmira Death Camp of the North “ – by Michael Horigan                                                                                                                                  “The Elmira Prison Camp – A History of the Military Prison at Elmira, New York  July 6, 1864 – July 10, 1865” by Clay W. Homes, New Appendix by Diane Janowski                                                                                                                                                       “United States Report of Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865, NY, Elmira, Military Prison” – National Archives                                       “Friends of Fort Fisher” website                                                                                                                                                                               “Find A Grave” website Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, New York    

 

“Report of Commissioner For Marking Confederate Graves”, Letter from Secretary of War December 9, 1912, Page 5            “www.ancestrypaths.com/military-records/civil war/confederate – prisoners – 1861 – to- 1865. com” National Archives                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 A very special thanks goes to Diane Janowski, Elmira City Historian, author, and artist for her contributions of data and statistical information on the Confederate soldiers who were imprisoned and died in Elmira.   Very special thanks also go to Richard H. Triebe of Wilmington, NC for researching, writing, and publishing the book “Fort Fisher to Elmira, The Fatal Journey of 518 Confederate Soldiers”.

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                                               TAR HEEL HALLOWED GROUND IN ELMIRA, NEW YORK

ELMIRA, NEW YORK IS HALLOWED GROUND TO THE CONFEDERACY AND ESPECIALLY TO NORTH CAROLINA.  FOR IT WAS IN THE ELMIRA  PRISON CAMP THAT SO MANY TAR HEEL CONFEDERATES SUFFERED THROUGH LACK OF FOOD, FORCED TO CATCH AND EAT RATS, LIVED IN VERY UNSANITARY CONDITIONS INCLUDING THE WATER FROM “FOSTER’S POND”,  DENIED  PROPER MEDICAL TREATMENT, AND APPROXIMATELY ONE HALF OF THE MEN LIVING THROUGH THE HARSH UP STATE NEW YORK WINTER IN TENTS.     

THEIR DEATH MARCH BEGAN IN ELMIRA WHEN THEY ARRIVED BY THE ERIE RAILROAD PRISON TRAIN AT THE BRICK RAILWAY STATION FROM  JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY.  THE DEATH MARCH WOULD BEGIN FOR 24.5 % OF THE MEN WHO MADE THAT  1.5 MILE MARCH FROM THE TRAIN STATION TO THE ELMIRA PRISON CAMP.

THE CONFEDERATE SECTION OF THE WOODLAWN NATIONAL CEMETERY IN ELMIRA IS HALLOWED GROUND TO 2,970 MEN WHO DIED IN THE PRISON AND AN ADDITONAL 49 MEN WHO WERE KILLED IN THE GREAT SHOHOLA PRISON TRAIN WRECK.   

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE ELMIRA PRISON CAMP AND THE HISTORICAL PRESERVATION  AND MEMORIAL PROJECT BEING CONDUCTED BY FRIENDS OF ELMIRA CIVIL WAR PRISON CAMP, GO TO www.elmiraprisoncamp.com.          

                                            www.elmiraprisoncamp.com      

*NOTE:                    BURIALS AND THE WOODLAWN NATIONAL CEMETERY                                                                                                                                  2,973 Confederate prisoners died and were buried in Elmira. After the war, three bodies were removed by friends and family and taken South for burial.  John Jones, a runaway slave from Virginia, was hired by the government to oversee the burial of the Elmira prisoners.  A spot of land about one and a half miles North of the camp was chosen.  John Jones received from the government $2.50 for each body buried.  John Jones was a very busy man during the time of the prison camp existence especially between September and May, during which time the least number of burials in a month was 208, and the greatest 495.  The largest number interred in any one day was 48, which required eight trips of the dead-wagon.  The aggregate of these fees was the basis of the comfortable fortune he amassed in the years after the war.  He was rated as the wealthiest colored man in that part of New York.  John Jones is credited for his excellent record keeping and his respect paid to those he buried.

The entire handling of the bodies after death was at the hands of Confederate prisoners.  They place the bodies in the coffins, nailed them up, and loaded them upon the dead-wagon.  About the last of July a Confederate sergeant turned up missing.  After a careful investigation it developed that he had bribed the men who were serving as undertakers to put him in a coffin, nailing the lid down very lightly.  When they loaded the dead-wagon, the box containing the sergeant was piled on top.  When near the cemetery, beyond the limits of the city, he lifted the lid and jumped out.  The driver disposed of his empty box and kept very quiet, nothing was known about it at the cemetery, at least by John Jones, until sometime afterward.

As a result of this escape special officer M.M. Conklin was detailed to superintend the dead-house operations and from that time till he left the camp he saw every dead body and witnessed the proper closing of every coffin and the loading of the dead-wagon, which he accompanied to the gate, giving his O.K. before it was allowed to pass out.

On the December 7, 1877, the United States Government purchased two acres of ground already filled with bodies for $1,500, making, with the original lot, a plot of two and a half acres, which they designated as “Woodlawn National Cemetery”. At the end of the war, 2,973 bodies had been buried in the cemetery.  The bodies were removed by family and friends and returned South for burial.  No bodies have been removed since 1877.  In the years 1911, the Government exhumed the bodies of the prisoners and guards kill in the Shohola Prison Train Wreck on July 16, 1864, and buried there, and brought them to Elmira, locating them on the north side in a vacant space.  A monument to these men was erected to these me by the Government listing the names of the Confederates killed on one side and the names of the Union Guards killed on the other.

Reference:  “The Elmira Prison Camp – A History of the Military Prison at Elmira, New York – July 6, 1864 – July 10, 1865” by Clay W. Homes, published 1912.

Conflicting Information: Reference Quartermaster Department 23 September 1874, after the war, 25 Confederate soldiers buried in the Woodlawn Nation Cemetery were claimed by families and taken home for burial. See page 6.

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The Elmira Prison Camp received its first 400 prisoners from Point Lookout Prison, MD on 6 July 1864.  On 10 July 1865 the Elmira Prison Camp closed after it released 226 prisoners and transferred 140 prisoner who were too sick to be released and travel to the U.S. General Hospital in Elmira. Elmira Prison Camp records show that Pvt. William A. Kesler, Co K, 8th NC was transferred from the prison to the U.S. General Hospital on 18 July 1865. This date conflicts with the date of 10 July 1865 being the last day of the prison operation when 140 sick prisoners were transferred to the government hospital.