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Group seeks descendants of soldiers from Civil War prison camp

The Historic Salisbury Foundation is looking for descendants of Civil War soldiers who were either prisoners or guards at the Confederate prison in Salisbury to contribute to an exhibit that they hope will link the past and present.

“We want this exhibit to create a dialogue about the views and emotions associated with the Salisbury Prison and foster a greater understanding about the interaction between prisoners, guards and civilians during the Civil War — both Union and Confederate, black and white,” Brian Davis from the Historic Salisbury Foundation said in a press release. “This is a way for us to better interpret the role and former site of the prison.”

The prison in Salisbury was the only prisoner of war camp in North Carolina during the Civil War.

Constructed on 16 acres surrounding a former cotton mill, it was designed to hold 2,500 prisoners, largely comprising Union soldiers. Toward the end of the war, more than 10,000 men were detained at the location.

It was closed in February 1865, less than two months before Union Gen. George Stoneman occupied Salisbury and destroyed the prison and its arsenal.

“Stoneman’s short stay saw fighting, destruction, burning, federal occupation and an attempt to cross the Yadkin, which was repulsed by Confederate troops at Ft. York, one of the last Confederate victories of the war,” said Terry Holt of the Rowan Museum.

The exhibit will feature a photo and brief background about each soldier, as well as their descendants. The descendants will share a personal account of what it means to have an ancestor associated with the former prisoner of war camp.

The stories will be displayed at the Rowan Museum, Hall House Museum and at other locations throughout Salisbury on April 12, in time for the 150th anniversary of Stoneman’s Raid.

“The role of all of our historical groups is to preserve, share and educate our citizens about events that have shaped our county and city,” Holt said.

Descendants of soldiers with a connection to the Salisbury Civil War Prison are encouraged to contact Historic Salisbury Foundation at 704-636-0103 or hsfarchives@gmail.com by Feb. 20.

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