Confederate Prison Symposium drew more than 100

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 11th annual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium concluded the afternoon of April 13 with a tour of the prison site.
During the morning hours, memorial services were conducted at the Old Lutheran Cemetery for the Confederate soldiers who died in Salisbury and at the National Cemetery for the prisoners who died here.
A special 100th anniversary recognition of the dedication of the Maine Monument was included as part of the National Cemetery Service. The monument was dedicated May 8, 1908, with former prisoners of war from Maine and local Confederate veterans in attendance.
The symposium opened April 11 with the traditional Reunion of Descendants and Friends and the Friendship Banquet at Landmark Church.
Dr. Dane Hartgrove, Catawba College instructor who worked for 30 years with the National Archives in Washington, spoke on the dedication of the Maine Monument. Local historian Betty Dan Spencer provided information from an 1883 letter which referred to duty at the prison and Camp Viola located near Salisbury.
Saturday’s lectures at Catawba College began with an introduction to the prison’s history by Dr. Gary Freeze.
Postal cover expert and author Galen Harrison of North Carolina spoke on the role of the prison clerk and gave background on five such individuals, including Rowan County resident John L. Lyerly, who served as clerk in Salisbury.
Author and historian Darl L. Stephenson, of Ohio, spoke on personal stories of prison life and gave information on Point Lookout Prison in Maryland.
Dr. Charles L. Cooke, of Virginia, a Civil War medical historian, discussed frostbite and gangrene, two afflictions which existed among the prisoners in Salisbury.
Joining Cooke in his presentation was Dr. Echols A. Hansbarger, a pathologist from West Virginia.
Historian Bill C. Weidner, of Pennsylvania, talked about the soldiers of the 190th and 191st Pennsylvania Regiments who were captured at the Battle of Weldon Railroad and sent to Salisbury.
The day ended with author Annette G. Ford of Florida directing a reenactment of a portion of the court martial trial of Salisbury Prison Commandant John Henry Gee, her ancestor.
During the course of the three-day symposium more than 100 individuals were attracted to the local area. Attendees came from 11 states: Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and Colorado.
Among the guests were board of directors members from three other War Between the States prison associations: the Friends of the Florence Stockade, the Johnson’s Island Committee and the Friends of Point Lookout.
Authors of “Bouquets from the Cannon’s Mouth,” “The Captive,” “Prisoners’ Mail from the American Civil War,” “Portals to Hell, the Military Prisons of the Civil War,” and “Headquarters in the Brush, Blazer’s Independent Union Scouts” offered their books for purchase.
Displays were provided by the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Inc., and W.J. Brown. A cane crafted by a Salisbury prisoner of war was brought to the Symposium by Vic Brown of Maryland.
Among the prints exhibited was one showing the historic baseball lithograph beside a photo of last year’s recreation of the lithograph by the Ohio Village Muffins vintage baseball team on the prison site.
The next symposium will be held April 24-26, 2009.