Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates

Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates was located on a low, sandy spit of land in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, separating the Chesapeake Bay from the Potomac River. Surrounded on three sides by water, its beautiful sandy beaches belied a mosquito problem created by nearby swamps.

During the late 1850s, the peninsula had been developed into a seaside resort. A hotel and cottages had been built and leased, but at the outset of the war, the developer ran into financial problems. He mortgaged the property to William H. Allen of Baltimore City who approached the Federal Government with a proposal to build a military hospital there.[1] In 1862, work began to expand the hotel and cottages into just such a facility, which was named Hammond General Hospital. The plan was a large circular facility from which smaller buildings radiated like wheel spokes.[2]

After Gettysburg in July of 1863, the huge number of Confederates prisoners, about 10,000, caused the government to scramble for places to put them, so Point Lookout was designated a prisoner of war depot.[3] Brigadier General Gilman Marsten, U. S. Army, was handed the job of turning the place into a prison.[4] Convalescing Union soldiers at Hammond Hospital with its 1,400 beds were moved to Baltimore. By late September, over 4,000 prisoners had arrived at Point Lookout, and by the end of December, that number had more than doubled. They were housed in old tents.[5] A board fence twelve feet high was hastily built to enclose the area where the prisoners were held.[6] Surrounding the fence on the inside was a platform for sentinels.[7]  Prisoners who tried to escape were shot.

Some prisoners moved to Point Lookout from Fort Delaware had smallpox and scurvy.[8] Marsten’s request for fresh vegetables was granted, but he was not to allow prisoners to receive gifts or luxuries from home, only basic clothing needs. In general, filthy conditions proliferated, chronic diarrhea was the most pressing health problem, and a shortage of clothing and blankets, not to mention inadequate housing, caused ragged, dirty, and ill-clad prisoners to suffer from the cold.[9]

In December 1863, Dr. A. M. Clark was sent to inspect the camp. He reported the following: "787 rebel and 293 Union patients in Hammond Hospital where facilities were good; the water supply was sufficient, but bad due to shallow surface wells . . . which were contaminated by unsanitary camp conditions; there was much chronic diarrhea, dysentery, and general scorbutic taint; the cemetery was located 1 ¾ miles from the hospital; deaths in the hospital for November, 1863, were 13.98% for the prisoners, and .019% for the Federals; there were 8,764 prisoners, 1,196 sick; the prisoners camp was located ½ mile from the extreme point of the bay side with 980 tents which accommodated 8,530, exclusive of the hospitals arranged on nine streets or divisions, about sixty feet wide, running nearly east and west; sinks were built out over the bay on the east but were insufficient; night boxes were insufficient and not properly attended; streets were messy with offal; food was satisfactory, served in six mess halls which accommodate 500 at a time; men and clothing dirty, but apparently enough clothing except overcoats and underwear; sufficient blankets, but very foul; condition of men as good as could be expected in similar camps; there were thirty hospital tents for prisoners not sick enough to be in Hammond Hospital; aggregate number of sick 2,900,  with deaths running 1.2%; the contagious (small pox) hospital in bad condition generally; two great faults to be found with camp, imperfect drainage and crowding tents too close together."[10]

Although Clark recommended changes to improve conditions, nothing much had been improved by the time my great-grandfather Daniel A. Troutman arrived at Point Lookout in October 1864.

[1] Edwin W. Beitzell, Point Lookout Prison Camp For Confederates (Leonardtown, Maryland: St. Mary’s County Historical Society, 1983), 19.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid., 20.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid., 21.
[7] Ibid., 22.
[8] Ibid., 21.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid., 22-23

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

D. A. Troutman: Confederate Soldier and POW

To simply say that someone served in the Civil War (or any war) and leave it at that does that person an injustice, it seems to me. War is an easy word to say, but a terrible thing to experience. When first told that my great-grandfather, Daniel A. Troutman was a Confederate soldier, I was a child filled with romantic ideas about the Civil War from novels, such as Yankee Stranger, by Elswythe Thane. As I matured, I began to wonder what Daniel had experienced during the war. I sent to the National Archives for his service record. From those papers, I learned two significant events: he had been wounded at Sharpsburg and had been a prisoner of war at Point Lookout. What was his wound? What other battles did he see? What were the conditions at Point Lookout prison? From family stories, I knew that one of his brothers had been killed at Reams Station. What effect did that have on him? I found a written account of the 48th North Carolina Infantry's action during the war.  Using the muster rolls and the account of the troops' movements from place to place and battle to battle, I began to piece together a timeline showing where Daniel was and when. Here's my timeline.

 Daniel A. Troutman

48th Reg’t North Carolina Infantry (State Troops), Co. C

Confederate service time line

Daniel’s personal information, black.* (my comments, italics)
Troop movements and action, grey. **


March 1         
Company Muster-in and Descriptive Roll (CMDR): Enlisted at Statesville, Iredell Co.,
NC, by A. M. Walker.  Described as 25 years old (according to his birthdate, 20 July 1835) he was
actually 26), a farmer, and 5’6” tall. (vol.)

April 11         
48th NC was organized with Colonel Robert C. Hill in command.  Co. C officer in charge
was Arthur M. Walker, Captain.

April 17         
CMDR:  On sick furlough from Camp Mangum, NC

Not stated (“in a short while”)                  
Moved to Goldsboro

2nd wk June 
Moved to Petersburg, Va., and camped on Dunn’s Hill. Attached to Gen. Robert Ransome’s Brigade.

“one everning”
Took part in skirmish at City Point with Yankee gunboats on James River. No on injured.

June 24        
Marched to Richmond and camped in the capital square

June 25        
Marched to front line, and about 4:00 PM had first battle at French’s Farm. Ransom
ordered Hill to move forward in the open through a field on “a brigade of Yankees
behind a fence on the edge of a the wood.” Virginia regiment to support them on the
right never showed. A Georgia battalion from the left finally helped them hold their
ground. 21 killed, 46 wounded of which 19 died.  After “unpleasantness” between
Ransom and Hill, the 48th was detached from Ransom’s Brigade and placed under
the command of Brigadier General John G. Walker.

June 26        
Marched to Gaines’ Mill where Stonewall Jackson had driven the enemy away 2 miles.
Camped on that battlefield.

June 27        
Recrossed the Chickahominy river.
June 30        
CMR (Company Muster Roll):  Paid by Capt. L. C. Haines

July 1             
Rejoined General Walker at White Oak Swamp, too late for Malvern Hill battle, but
experienced “severe shelling from gunboats” on the James River.

July 2
Moved to Drewry’s Bluff.

Returned to Petersburg where they were in camp until August (Camp Lee west of

Regiment was “recruited by conscripts”; without time to drill them, the regiment was
Ordered to march on the Maryland campaign.

Sept. 15        
Took part in the capture of Harper’s Ferry.

Sept. 16        
Crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown. That night they were placed to guard a ford
on the Antietam river, about 2 miles south of Sharpsburg.

Sept. 17        
Battle started early. About 9:00 AM Walker’s Division was ordered to the left to support
Sonewall Jackson.  Arrived at the Dunkard Church, 1-1/2 miles north of Sharpsburg, at
11:00.  Jackson’s line had been broken.  “Kershaw’s and Hood’s Brigades had been
driven out of a piece of woods west of the church and the enemy was coming into the
gap.”  Walker’s division drove them back and held the field.  48th NC occupied “that part
of the line at the church,” which was at the center of the regiment.  They drove the
enemy out of the woods and charged their line east to the church, but were “cut all to
pieces.” Lost 1/2 of the men killed or wounded. The 48th NC and 30th Va were sent to
the left.  Then about 4:00 PM, Hill was ordered to the extreme left “where there was
some hard fighting.”  Marched in quick time over a mile, but when they arrived,
Jackson’s men had driven back the enemy. They marched back, arriving at Dunkard
Church about dark where they camped. The 48th lost 31 killed, 186 wounded (Daniel
was one of the wounded).

Sept. 17        
Roll of Honor:  Wounded at Sharpsburg (Pvt.)

Sept. 18        
Recrossed the Potomac (Daniel was likely not with them but on his way to a Richmond
hospital. During the time he was in the hospital, his regiment joined several others to
form General John R. Cooke’s Brigade, beloning to General H. Heth’s Division and A.
P. Hill’s Corps.)

CMR: Absent, sick at hospital (hospitalized at General Hospital #9, Richmond, VA,
inferred from next record)

Oct. 31          
Register of Receiving and Wayside Hospital, or General Hospital No. 9:  Transferred to
General Hospital #8, Richmond, VA

Oct. 31- Dec. 13      
Medical Director’s Office, Richmond Va notes these admitted and released dates.

Nov. 28         
Receipt Roll at Gen. Hosp. No 8:  clothing

Dec. 13         
Register of Gen. Hosp. #8 (St. Charles Hosp.):  Returned to duty.  Illness listed as

Dec. 13         
Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.  The 48th suffered a heavy loss, “being in the hottest of the
battle.” (Since Daniel was released from hospital on the same day, it’s likely he missed
the action of this battle.)

4th Qr
Receipt Roll:  clothing


CMR:  Present (Pvt.)

Sent to Pocataligo, SC where they remained until April.

Feb. 28         
CMR:  Paid by Capt. L. C. Haines

CMR:  Present  (2 Corpl.)

Ordered back to eastern NC, remained until July. Did a lot of marching and were in a
“little skirmish at Gum Swamp” driving the Yankees to Red Banks, 8 miles from New
Bern.  Went “from place to place” including Little Washington, Tarboro, Weldon.

Apr. 30          
CMR:  Paid by Capt. Hanes

CMR:  Present  (2 Corpl.)

July 1             
Went to Richmond to guard the city.

Went back to Fredericksburg

Went to Gordonsville, joined the regular army.

Sept. 10-28  
Receipt Roll:  “Commutation of Rations”

Oct. 14          
Marched to Bristoe Station where they suffered their heaviest loss, “charging a heavy
body of the enemy entrenched behind a railroad.”

Date not stated                   
Fell back to Orange Court House; went into winter quarters.

Dec. 8           
(Above Receipt Roll is dated this date)


Feb. 29         
CMR:  Paid by Capt. Hanes

CMR:  Present  (Pvt.)

Mar. 11          
Receipt Roll:  clothing

Apr. 30          
CMR:  Paid by Capt. Thomas

May 4-5         
Wilderness battle, heavy fighting drove federals out of breastworks.

Date not stated       
Heavy skirmish on Po river

May 12          
Spotsylvania Court House, losses light, not in the thick of the battle

May 25          
Exposed to heavy shelling near Hanover on the way to Richmond.

Date not stated       
Turkey Bend (or Turkey Hill) battle (Rebel yell drove away enemy)

June 3           
Cold Harbor.  Cooke’s Brigade was on the extreme left of the confederate lines. Hardest
fought battle of the war for them.  Repulsed every charge, built a good breastwork.
Charges ended about 6:00 PM. They began marching about 9:00 that night.

“Next few days”       
Went from place to place

“Next week”  
Spent at Deep Bottom where they battled “only flies.”

June 17        
Receipt Roll for clothing

June 25        
Receipt Roll for clothing

Date not stated       
Returned to Petersburg. They were ½ mile to the right of “the blow-up.”  Had crossed
the Potomac and were marching toward Richmond when they heard the explosion.
They returned and took up their position in the trenches the next day. They occupied the
position that had been blown up. (Battle of The Crater took place on July 30, 1864)

Date not stated       
Built winter quarters on Hatcher’s Run

Several engagements, one at Yellow House.

Aug. 24          
Daniel’s brother John Burette Troutman was killed on this day at Reams Station.

Aug. 25         
Reams Station—Charged a heavy force of federals behind a breastwork, broke their
line and captured several hundred prisoners and several pieces of artillery. The 48th
"fought valiantly and effectively" here.

Aug. 26         
Marched back to Petersburg to their position at the right of the lines.

CMR:  Absent, Prisoner of War Captured 1 Oct. 1864 ( Pvt.)

Oct. 1             
Captured at Petersburg, specifically, at Peebles Farm where where a fierce battle was
fought that day; he was captured  with five others.[1]

Oct. 5             
POW (Prisoners of War at Point Lookout, Md.):  Arrived at City Point, Virginia (Pvt.).
Sent to Point Lookout Prison.


May 14          
POW  (Roll of Prisoners of War released at Point Lookout, Md., from May 12 to 14,
1865, on taking the oath of allegiance):  Released from Point Lookout Prison.
Occupation: Farmer

According to Lawhon, they started with 1300 men and ended at Appomatox with not
enough to fill a company.

*Muster rolls of Co. C, 48th North Carolina Infantry, for Daniel A. Troutman, 1 March 1862-14 May 1865; National Archives, Washington, D. C.
**W.H.H. Lawhon, “48th North Carolina Infantry,” article on ( : accessed 18 August 2014). Lawhon was Captain of Co. D; his account was written in Moore Co., NC, April 9, 1901. See also, Weymouth T. Jordan, Jr., North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Raleigh, NC, Division of Archives and History, 1987).

[1] Grant Gates, NPS interpreter at Petersburg Battlefield Park, located the italicized information for me on 28 April 2003. Unfortunately, I did not obtain source information from him at that time.