Prisoners of War in Maryland

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)

STANDARD 2: The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people. 

Standard 2B: The student understands the social experience of the war on the battlefield and homefront. 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Letter, Major-General N. P. Banks to Col. E. D. Townsend.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 13, 1861
    NOTES: "I find it necessary to call the attention of the commander-in-chief to the condition of Fort McHenry considered merely as a place of confinement for arrested persons. Its limited dimension make it insufficient for the secure possession of persons whose arrests and detention is indispensable to the public peace...."
    SOURCE: United States. War Dept., United States. Record and Pension Office., United States. War Records Office., et al. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Series 2 - Volume 1. (Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1894): 586-587.

  2. DESCRIPTION: Letter, Col. E. D. Townsend to Major General Banks
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 17, 1861
    NOTES: "The general is aware of the difficulties attending the custody of prisoners at Fort McHenry but at present sees no remedy for them. He supposes the prisoners have been of course disarmed and that force would be used to prevent their escape...."
    SOURCE:
    United States. War Dept., United States. Record and Pension Office., United States. War Records Office., et al. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Series 2 - Volume 1. (Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1894): 587.

  3. DESCRIPTION: Letter, John A. Dix to Gen. G. B. McClellan
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 5, 1861
    NOTES: "Fort McHenry which has not sufficient space for the convenient accommodation of the number of men necessary to man its guns is crowded with prisoners. Besides our own criminals awaiting trial or under sentence we have eleven State prisoners.... It is also too near a great town in which there are multitudes who sympathize with them who are constantly applying for interviews and who must be admitted with the hazard of becoming the media of improper communications, or who go away with the feeling that they have been treated harshly because they have been denied access to their friends."
    SOURCE: United States. War Dept., United States. Record and Pension Office., United States. War Records Office., et al. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Series 2 - Volume 1. (Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1894): 592-593.

  4. DESCRIPTION: Letter, John A. Dix to Gen. G. B. McClellan
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 8, 1861
    NOTES: "I must again call your attention to the crowded state of Fort McHenry. Every room is full and we had fifty prisoners last night in tents on the parade ground with hardly room left for the guard to parade."
    SOURCE: United States. War Dept., United States. Record and Pension Office., United States. War Records Office., et al. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Series 2 - Volume 1. (Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1894): 593.

  5. DESCRIPTION: Letter, Montgomery Blair and Lennox Birckhead to Abraham Lincoln  (Release of prisoner at Fort McHenry)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 8, 1863
    SOURCE: The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  6. DESCRIPTION: Abraham Lincoln to Ethan A. Hitchcock (Prisoner exchange)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: January 10, 1864
    SOURCE: The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  7. DESCRIPTION: Marriot Boswell to William H. Seward (Telegram regarding arrests in Baltimore)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 1, 1861
    SOURCE: The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  8. DESCRIPTION: Thomas Donaldson to Montgomery Blair, November 10, 1862 (Release of political prisoners in Baltimore)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 10, 1862
    SOURCE: The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  9. DESCRIPTION: J. M. Coale to Abraham Lincoln, November 12, 1861 (Requests release of imprisoned members of the Maryland legislature)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 12, 1861
    SOURCE: The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  10. DESCRIPTION: Letter, John A. Dix to William H. Seward
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: February 17, 1862
    NOTES: Includes report of political prisoners taken, released, and remaining since March 4, 1861, at Fort McHenry, Md.
    SOURCE: United States. War Dept., United States. Record and Pension Office., United States. War Records Office., et al. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Series 2 - Volume 2. (Washington, DC. Government Printing Office, 1897): 226-228

  11. DESCRIPTION: Hospital and Military Prison at Point Lookout [Lithograph]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: n. d.
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  12. DESCRIPTION: [Point Lookout: a series of eight ground plans of military properties erected and used during the Civil War.]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 1865
    ARC Identifier: 305824
    SOURCE: Part of Series: Post and Reservation Maps, 1820 - 1905. 
    REPOSITORY: National Archives, Washington, DC

  13. DESCRIPTION: Point Lookout, Md. View of Hammond Genl. Hospital & U.S. genl. depot for prisoners of war Lith. by E. Sachse & Co., Baltimore.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    SOURCE: Map Collections: 1500-2003
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress

  14. DESCRIPTION: Diary of Bartlett Yancey Malone
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: published 1919
    SOURCE: Southern Voices: Texts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    REPOSITORY: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  15. DESCRIPTION: Prison Schoolhouse [Point Lookout]
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Prisoners stand, sit and read outside a long wooden building. One prisoner pumps water, African American guards stand watch
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  16. DESCRIPTION: Engine made and invented by a prisoner, whilst confined at this prison 
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: A man stands next to a steam engine, which involves steam from a pot on a stove powering a wheel
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  17. DESCRIPTION: Hot Coffee
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Two men carry a bucket of coffee suspended from a stick. One man is barefoot and with patched clothes, the other holds a cup. Barefoot man: "Heres your good hot coffee." Other man: "Only one cracker a cup"
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  18. DESCRIPTION: Prisoner's Post Office
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Prisoners gather around a wooden building with tent roof labeled "post office." Other prisoners surround a bulletin board and open parcels. An African-American sentinel stands guard by wooden buildings in the background
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  19. DESCRIPTION: Prison Hospital
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: A group of long wooden buildings on stilts. Two prisoners sit in the doorway to one building, a patient with an amputated leg walks on crutches toward a fence in front of the buildings.
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  20. DESCRIPTION: Prison Entrance, Point Lookout Md.
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Two African American sentinels stand guard with guns outside a large wooden door marked "Prisoner's Camp." Next to them is a small building labeled "Asst. Prov. Marshal;" white soldiers stand in the doorway and sit on the porch of the building.
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  21. DESCRIPTION: Point Lookout Sports. Vantoon or 21
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Five prisoners sit around a table playing cards and betting. Ships at sea are visible in the background. First prisoner: "Give me a card." Second prisoner: "I'll branch these" Dealer: "Sing out who wants a card." Fourth prisoner: "That will do for me."
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  22. DESCRIPTION: Point Lookout Sports - Tarra
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Five men sit at a table playing cards and betting. Ships sail by in the background. First prisoner: "I've lost twice's on that damnd old ace." Dealer: "Hurry up and make your bets." Third prisoner: "How many times has the jack won." Fourth prisoner: "I'll wait and see how the cards runs."
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  23. DESCRIPTION: Scene on the beach
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Prisoners engaged in many activities along a beach and pier. Some sit on the pier and fish, some stand in the shallow water and fish, a few bathe in the water or wash clothing. In the foreground, two prisoners carry a large barrel suspended on a stick. Ships sail in the water offshore.
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  24. DESCRIPTION: [Guard and prisoner]
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: An African American guard points a bayonetted rifle at a prisoner in front of a tent. Their conversation is written out in the top left corner. "Sentinel {halt-dar, who goes dar? Rebel {A Friend. Sentinal {Look here white man, don't you say Friend again, you's a Rebel and prisoner, and I'se put here to watch you - how you like dat. 
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  25. DESCRIPTION: Prisoners Cookhouse
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: A melee among prisoners leaving a long wooden cookhouse. Some prisoners fight each other, some have fallen to the ground. An African American sentinel comes to the assistance of one man, another stands guard behind a fence beyond the cookhouse. Prisoners say the following: "Oh my soup," "Is that a souphouse cup?" "You threw soup in my face, take that," and "Take him off." 
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  26. DESCRIPTION: A sentinel accidently shot by his companion
    AUTHOR: John Jacob Omenhausser (1832-1877)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: An African American guard lies on the ground outside of a tent bleeding while another guard bends over him. The fallen guard's rifle is beside him. Three prisoners look on. First prisoner: "Whats the matter" Second prisoner: "Who kill'd him" Guard: "Git up Abram and don't act possum, here comes Corp'ral Jim but I knows you don't beleive me you think I'se fooling you. Git up Abram and don't make a fool of yourself, don't you see de white folk's laughing at you - for de Lord I believe's the nigger dead for sartain."
    SOURCE: Image source, Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  27. DESCRIPTION: [Letter from prisoner at Point Lookout to President Johnson
    AUTHOR: Edwin S. Valliant
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1865
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  28. DESCRIPTION: General Order No. 46 
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Printed flyer from the Head Quarters St. Mary's District, Aug 29, 1864, instructing Sentinels at Point Lookout to refrain from shooting at prisoners unless necessary. By command of Brig. Gen. James Barnes.
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  29. DESCRIPTION: General Order No. 25
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1864
    NOTES: Printed flyer from the Head Quarters St. Mary's District, May 24, 1864, instructing Sentinels at Point Lookout to be vigilant about guarding prisoners. By command of Col. A.G. Draper, and signed by G.L. Kibby in ink on the inside
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  30. DESCRIPTION: [Prisoners at Point Lookout taking the oath of allegiance]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: June 30, 1865
    NOTES: A group of prisoners stand in a building, with the U.S. Flag draped across the ceiling, each with his hand on a Bible. A Union officer stands at a dias administering the oath of allegiance to the Union
    SOURCE: Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    REPOSITORY: New York Historical Society

  31. DESCRIPTION: [Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison]
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED
    : [photographed between 1861 and 1865, printed later]
    REPRODUCTIONSHow to obtain copies of this item
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Additional Media Resources

Union and Confederate POWs of the Civil War. By the Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War. Provides a search engine for various Civil War POW databases, including prisoners at Fort McHenry and Point Lookout.

Secondary Resources

Allen, Bob and Dana B. Shoaf. "Point Lookout's Prison Pen" America's Civil War (March 2003): 38

Blondo, Richard A., "A View of Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates" OAH Magazine of History (Fall 1993): 30-36.

Cannon, Rayford L. and Edwin W. Besch. "One of Seven Brothers in Gray" Civil War Times Illustrated (February 1997): 80.

Faherty, William. "From the Gray to the Black" Civil War Times Illustrated (February 2000): 50.

Ruffin, Edmund. "Extracts from the Diary of Edmund Ruffin." William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 1. (Jul., 1914), pp. 31-45. (See page 44 for description of Point Lookout)

Speer, Lonnie R. Portals to Hell: The Military Prisons of the Civil War. Stackpole Books, 1997.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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