Confederate Prison Symposium set for April 17-19

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SALISBURY —  The 18th Annual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium, sponsored by the Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will be held April 17-19.  The event is dedicated to preserving, sharing, and expanding the history of the prison and those who were there.

“Anyone interested in the War Between the States is welcome to register,” Symposium Chairman Sue Curtis said. “We already have guests coming from Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Utah, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin but always have room for more.”

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

To provide an economical registration fee for attendees. Hoke members have been raising funds through the sale of Louis Brown’s book, “The Salisbury Prison,” and Henry Kidd’s pen-and-ink drawing of the Rowan Confederate Monument.

Speakers have ranged from professional lecturers and noted authors to descendants who spoke at the symposium for the first time about their ancestor who was at the prison. The event offers an opportunity to learn more about the only military prison that was located by the Confederate government in North Carolina.

Between December 1861 and March 1865, there were at least 15,000 guards and prisoners in Salisbury from 32 states and the District of Columbia.

This year’s symposium will begin with the traditional Friendship Banquet on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Landmark Church. The meal will be catered by Debbie Suggs. The evening speaker will be author and historian Chris Hartley, who will describe Stoneman’s 1865 raid into Salisbury. Musical entertainment, recognition of veterans, historical displays, and door prizes will also be a part of the program.

Saturday’s symposium site on April 18 shifts to the Tom Smith Auditorium in Ketner Hall on the Catawba College campus. Starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., the day will have 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 prison. Author Joseph Collea Jr. of New Hampshire will share information about captured Vermont soldiers sent to the military prison.

Author Annette Ford of Florida will discuss problems of obtaining supplies late in the war while her ancestor, John Gee, was commandant. Historian Mary Anne Gorman of Massachusetts will talk about a sailor from the Union ship Housatonic who was held in Salisbury.

Sandy Kendall of South Carolina, Florence Prison historian, will discuss the transfer of prisoners between Salisbury and Florence. Author and POW descendant Edwin Rutan of Utah will review the history of the 179th New York Infantry and those from this regiment sent to Salisbury.

Displays on Friday and Saturday will include copies of sketches, paintings, and maps of the prison and pictures and biographies of selected prisoners, guards and commandants.

On Sunday morning, two memorial services will be conducted. 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 infantry and artillery re-enactors in blue and gray. The public is invited to the services.

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

Registrations for the symposium are now being accepted. Cost is $65 per person through March 27, $75 afterwards. Checks should be made payable to the Robert F. Hoke Chapter No. 78, UDC, and mailed to P.O. Box 83, Salisbury, NC 28145-0083.

For additional information contact Symposium Chairman Sue Curtis at 704-637-6411, or