Salisbury Confederate Prison
Last Updated 10/2001
The Salisbury Confederate prison came into being in 1861, and following the first battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Union prisoners of war streamed into Salisbury. Joining the POWs were Southern political prisoners and conscientious objectors, as well as Confederate and Federal deserters. Originally a cotton mill and, for a short time, a boys academy, the prison grounds had held a meat packing plant for the Confederate Army. It was also the site of the general muster ground, where local boys joined the Southern Army.
Life early on in the prison was harsh, but prisoners had the benefit of a large yard in which they could move about. Supplies and rations were tight but manageable. Parole and exchanges of prisoners made the Salisbury Prison little more than a way station for those individual soldiers returning home. When exchanges and paroles all but ceased late in the war, the prison soon became greatly overcrowded, and supplies fell to almost nothing. Locals who had scant rations themselves could do little to help those behind the stockade. Many prisoners died and were buried outside the walls. This was the beginning of Salisbury’s National Cemetery.
Salisbury Prison gained added notoriety due to the fact that two noted journalists of the major newspaper of the day, the New York Tribune, were held there. Also there, was Col. Michael Corcoran, a popular New York Irishman, who had been chosen at random to receive the same fate as Southern privateers that the North had declared to be pirates. David Livingstone, the famous abolitionist, had a son who died in the prison under an assumed name, Rupert Vincent. The prison also held the very first POW of the war.
Today, the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Inc. researches the prisons history and works to gather information about the men who where at the prison. The Association provides lectures and tours about the prison and publishes a quarterly newsletter, "The Prison Exchange". Membership is $10 per individual.
The Annual Association Meeting is held in April during the 3-day Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium.
Salisbury Confederate Prison Materials
This collection contains information on the prison, its prisoners, monument dedications and various articles from newspapers. Documents include baseball in the prison and prisoner diary excerpts, genealogical information and finding aids to collections of papers.
Oscar D. Morhous Diary
The Civil War diary of Oscar D. Morhous covers January 1 - December 11, 1864. It was used by Morhous while he was a prisoner at the Salisbury Confederate Prison. Morhouse, a single man, enlisted the 11th of August 1862 for three years. On January 29, 1864 he was promoted to Second Sgt. in the 118th New York Infantry Volunteers. He held this rank when taken prisoner on October 27, 1864. He died in the prison on December 24, 1864.
What follows is a bibliography of materials about the Salisbury Confederate Prison. Rowan Public Library welcomes any suggestions about additions to this bibliography.
Materials in the bibliography are not necessarily held at Rowan Public Library.
The National Cemetery
Archival and Manuscript Materials
Other Primary Sources
Biographies and Family Histories
Newspaper and Magazine Articles
Primary Sources Published
Contemporary News Accounts
Infrared Imaging of the Prison Site/Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium
Archeological Investigation of the Prison Site
Reenactment of Journalist's Escape
Return of the Prison Flag
A Historic Site?
Louis Brown's History
Prison's Postage Stamps
Other Secondary Sources
This bibliography made be viewed in its entirety at
Salisbury Confederate Prison Bibliography