Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium set for April 5-7

  • Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 7:05 a.m.

The Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has announced the slate of guest lecturers for its 16th Annual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium, April 5-7.

The event is dedicated to preserving, sharing and expanding the history of the prison and those who were there.


Since 1998 the Hoke Chapter has hosted attendees from throughout the United States plus Canada and Scotland, with speakers from almost as many localities.

Hoke members raise funds during the year to provide an economical registration fee for attendees. Speakers have ranged from professional lecturers and noted authors to descendants who spoke at the symposium for the first time about their ancestors who were at the prison.

This event offers an opportunity to learn more about the military prison located in Salisbury by the Confederate government in 1861. It held thousands of prisoners until it closed in 1865.

This year’s symposium will begin with the traditional Friendship Banquet from 5-9 p.m. April 5 in the fellowship hall of Landmark Church. The evening speaker will be author Arlene Showalter of Georgia, who will share information about Sarah Johnston and her acts of benevolence in connection to the Confederate military prison located close to her home on East Bank Street.

Musical entertainment, recognition of veterans, historical displays and door prizes will also be a part of the program.

Saturday’s symposium site shifts to the Tom Smith Auditorium in Ketner Hall on the Catawba College campus. Starting at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., the day will offer a series of six lectures on subjects relating to the Salisbury prison.

Dr. Gary Freeze, professor of American history at the college, will present a history of the Salisbury prison.

William Marley of Virginia, a descendant of a guard who served with the 68th N.C. Infantry stationed at the prison, will talk about the November 1864 mass escape attempt.

Historian Andrew Bullard, M.D., of North Carolina will discuss soldiers’ pensions. Union soldiers or family members applied for pensions from the federal government, and Southern soldiers or widows applied for pensions from the state from which they served.

Prisoner-of-war descendant Michael DuMont of North Carolina will speak on his ancestor of the 3rd New York Cavalry who died in the prison in February 1865.

Author Robert O’Connor of West Virginia will provide information on Salisbury POWs from the United States Colored Troops. Historian and POW descendant Ron Nichols of Wisconsin will discuss prisoners from his state who survived their imprisonment at Salisbury.

Displays on Friday evening that include images and maps of the prison, images with biographies of selected prisoners, guards and commandants and the 68th N.C. Infantry will also be set up on Saturday — plus an additional exhibit, “The Civil War & a New Era in Veterans Benefits.”

This traveling exhibit was created by the Veterans Health Administration History Office as part of the national Civil War 150th Anniversary commemoration. The display of six panels, 15 feet long, highlights sweeping changes made in Federal veterans benefits because of the war.

On Sunday morning, two memorial services will be conducted which are free and open to the public. The 10 a.m. service at the Historic Salisbury National Cemetery will remember the Union prisoners who died in Salisbury.

The 11 a.m. service at the Old Lutheran Cemetery will remember the Confederate soldiers who died while on duty at the prison as well as others who died in Salisbury while hospitalized and after the war.

Each service will include a memorial address, music, poetry and members of the 88th N.Y. Infantry, 4th N.C. Infantry, 27th N.C. Infantry, and the 40th N.C. Light Artillery.

Also assisting the UDC will be members of the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association Inc.

The final activity of the symposium weekend for registered attendees will be a tour of the prison site on Sunday afternoon.

Registrations for the symposium are now being accepted. The event is open to anyone interested in the history of the prison. Cost is $65 per person through March 16, $75 afterwards.

Checks should be made to Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78, UDC, and mailed to P.O. Box 83, Salisbury, NC 28145-0083.

For additional information contact Symposium Chairwoman Sue Curtis at 704-637-6411 or southpaws@fibrant.com

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