Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium on tap for April 13-15

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The slate of speakers has been announced for the 21st annual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium on April 13-15. 

Robert F. Hoke Chapter 78 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy organizes the symposium.

Catawba College American history Professor Gary Freeze will discuss the history of the Salisbury Prison.

Author, historian and retired FBI scientist Benjamin Garrett of Virginia will give a presentation on prison guard Sgt. Augustus Wooten and his experiences after being captured by Stoneman’s Raiders in April 1865.

Descendant and University of Dallas archivist and librarian Shelley Gayler-Smith will speak on her Union ancestor, Adolphus Guyette of New York, who was captured and sent to Salisbury.

Historians and descendants Mike McCully, a High Point University economics professor, and John McCully, a retired accountant, will speak about their Salisbury Prison prisoner-of-war ancestor, Osgood Dwinnel, and his Wisconsin regiment.

Author, historian and retired IRS career employee Rebecca Morris of Maryland will speak about Camp Parole, where many of the exchanged prisoners from Salisbury were initially sent.

Retired history Professor Bill Partin of North Carolina will speak on prison guard Brodie Duke of the Durham tobacco family.

Historian Bill Searfoss of New York, a retired manufacturing manager, will talk about Union soldiers from the Chenango County area of his state who were sent as POWs to Salisbury. 

The idea for the annual symposium originated with Hoke Chapter President Sue Curtis and her husband, Ed, as they were giving tours to visitors and descendants who were searching for the location of the prison and seeking details about the lives of the prisoners and guards.

Members of the Hoke Chapter voted to hold the first symposium in 1998 to share the history of the prison and the people who were there.

Since its beginning, historians, researchers, professionals and descendants from Salisbury to Scotland have shared their knowledge at the symposium. Over the years, a wide variety of subjects has been covered relating to the period from December 1861, when Gov. Henry Toole Clark sent the first Union soldier and sailor prisoners to Salisbury, until February 1865, when most of the prisoners were sent for exchange.

Lectures have also included what happened to some of the guards and prisoners after their experience in Salisbury.

The Hoke Chapter’s symposium committee and the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association have collected and displayed flags from areas of those who arrived at the prison to guard or be guarded.

These locations include Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

A registration fee is required for lectures that will be held Friday at the Landmark Church fellowship hall and Saturday in Stanback Auditorium of Rowan Public Library.

There will be a Sunday afternoon tour of the prison site for registrants. The public is invited to a memorial services at 10 a.m. April 15 at Historic Salisbury National Cemetery and 11 a.m. at Old Lutheran Cemetery.

The cost for the symposium is $65 per person or $75 after March 23. That includes the banquet buffet meal on Friday, a light lunch on Saturday and refreshments on Sunday after the tour. 

For more  information, contact symposium chairman Sue Curtis at 704-637-6411 or