Salisbury, NC
Confederate Monument - National Cemetery - Confederate Prison

Walter Wells, PA: 2005
Brian Duckworth, NC: 2007
John Guss, NC: 2007, 2010
Rodney Cress, NC 2009
Chris Redmond, NC 2015

Please contact Webmaster for use of these images

Bivouac of the Dead

1. City of Salisbury Confederate Prison
2. Salisbury Confederate Prison Association
4. The Salisbury Confederate Prison & National Cemetery
5. Salisbury Confederate Prison in the Civil War

6. Salisbury National Cemetery

The National Cemetery in Salisbury occupies the site of the cemetery that was next to the Confederate Prisoner of War camp. The camp, opened in December of 1861 was originally built to house 2,500 Union soldiers. By November of 1864 it held more than 10,000 men. The death rate became appalling: 28% of soldiers held there died in captivity. Burials before the overcrowding had been in coffins and in separate graves. Records exist that indicate military burial services were even given. However, due to the large number of men dying daily after October 1864 a mass burial system was initiated. The bodies were collected daily and taken to the “dead house” to be counted and loaded onto a one-horse wagon. At 2:00 PM each day this wagon of the dead would be taken about ¼ mile to an abandoned cornfield where the men were buried. Eighteen trenches of approximately 240 feet each were eventually needed. These trenches are visible today.

On April 12, 1865 (3 days after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox) Union General George Stoneman arrived in Salisbury to free the Federals. By this time all of the app. 8,000 remaining prisoners had been transferred elsewhere for medical reason. The prison was burned, the only one recorded as having been destroyed in this manner. The bricks from the buildings were later sold and are said to have been used in constructing some of the buildings on South Main Street in downtown Salisbury. A small house reportedly used by the Guards outside the main entrance still stands on Bank Street, across the railroad tracks from the original; entrance to the prison.

There were nine commandants during the Prison’s existence. The most notable was Major John Henry Gee. In 1866 Major Gee was tried for war crimes in Raleigh, North Carolina and found innocent. Gee was the only commandant brought to trial other than Major Henry Wirz of Andersonville, who was found guilty and hanged.

Prison marker photo above courtesy of John Guss, NC

Following photos courtesy of Walter Wells, PA

Enlarge Burial trenches at Salisbury National Cemetery
Note: The 18 trenches are thought to hold the remains of app. 5,000 Union soldiers. One estimate in 1871 said there were as many as 11,700 bodies there but that has been pretty much disproved

  Detail of Maine monument
Graves next to Maine monument   Enlarge Pennsylvania monument

(December 2009) Enlarge New Salisbury National Cemetery interpretive marker with information related to Medal of Honor recipient, Lorenzo Deming, buried in unmarked grave. Marker will be dedicated in January 2010 by Senator Richard Burr of NC

Photo by Rodney Cress

  (December 2009) Enlarge Rodney Cress

Photo by Rodney Cress

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