Confederate Prison Symposium will wrap up Sunday with memorial services
SALISBURY — The Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is inviting the public to attend the Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium memorial services Sunday.
The services are held in remembrance of the soldiers who died in Salisbury during the Civil War.
A 10 a.m. service will be held at the Salisbury National Cemetery, 202 Government Road, near the trenches for the men who died in the military prison.
The second service will be held at 11 a.m. in the Old Lutheran Cemetery, 501 N. Lee St., near the 175 tombstones placed by the Hoke Chapter in 1996 for Confederate soldiers, including some prison guards.
Ron Nichols of Wisconsin, a Salisbury prisoner-of-war descendant, will give the memorial address at the National Cemetery.
William Marley of Virginia, a Salisbury Guard descendant, will present the address at the Old Lutheran Cemetery.
Descendants will read the poem “The Blue and The Gray” at each service. Wreaths will be placed by members of the Hoke Chapter; the Charles F. Fisher Chapter No. 73, Children of the Confederacy; the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association; the Gibbon-Burke Camp No. 2, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Juliet Stevens Tent No. 14, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War; and the Order of the Black Rose.
Flags will be flown representing soldiers who were in Salisbury from the states of South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Iowa, Kentucky, Delaware, California, Minnesota, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland and Missouri.
Re-enactors from the 88th N.Y. Infantry, Co. B; 40th N.C. Regiment, Co. G, Orange Light Artillery; and the 27th N.C. Regiment, Co. B will fire three-volley salutes after floral tributes are placed. Eva Millsaps, soloist, will sing at both services.
The largest number of Union dead at Salisbury were prisoners of war. This military prison was established by the Confederate Government in 1861 on land purchased by the CSA from Davidson College.
The prison was constructed with a capacity of 2,500 prisoners, but it was later enlarged when the exchange of prisoners was curtailed in the spring of 1864.
Within the wooden stockade, approximately 15,000 soldiers and civilians, mainly from the North, survived or died until it was emptied in February 1865.
The 16-acre property was oddly shaped with the entrance just past the bridge over the railroad on East Bank Street. The Prison property included areas of Bank, Fisher, Shaver, and Long Streets.
The death rate, which was 2 percent prior to the fall of 1864, rose to 28 percent when the population reached 10,000 in November 1864. The total number who died in the prison was estimated by historian Louis Brown as 5,000.
Due to the large number of dead, the trench burial system was initiated. The bodies of the deceased were taken about a quarter-mile away to an abandoned cornfield where 18 trenches were eventually used. This burial site was designated in 1870 as the Salisbury National Cemetery. Brown believed that some Confederate soldiers may also have been buried in the cornfield.
The 175 Confederate tombstones located in one section of the Old Lutheran Cemetery were placed by the Hoke Chapter based on research by historian Jeff Stepp of the 26th N.C. Regiment Re-activated.
The government tombstones were erected for the chapter by a single individual, and a dedication service was held in June 1996 with the president general of the UDC in attendance.
These 175 soldiers served in units from 10 southern states and died in Salisbury from disease, wounds or accidents. Some were guards at the prison from as far away as Alabama, some were prisoners who took the oath to the Confederacy, some were soldiers who had been wounded in battle and some were home on leave.
This cemetery also was used during the war to bury Union prisoners who died of communicable diseases, and their remains were later reinterred in the Salisbury National Cemetery.