United States, Records of Confederate Prisoners of War (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States, Records of Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865 .

Record Description

This collection consists of an explanation of the records (which is listed as an index) and 429 volumes of Confederate Prisoners of War records. Most of the records are from the War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners. Others are from the Surgeon General's Office, a few Army commands, and individual prison camps.

This collection consists of the following lists and registers:

  • Prisoners
  • Prisoners deaths and burials
  • Applications for release and released prisoners
  • Prisoners paroled, transferred, escaped, sentenced, and exchanged
  • Confederate deserters
  • Political prisoners
  • Passes issued to visitors
  • Prisoners released for employment on public works
  • Prisoners enlisting in United States service
  • Clothing issued
  • Prisoners' possessions, accounts, ledgers, articles and money received
  • Account of checks and packages received for prisoners
  • Letters sent and received
  • Receipts for letters containing money
  • Morning reports of patients and attendants in the prison hospital
  • Oaths of allegience
  • Roll call books
  • Statistical reports
  • Miscellaneous reports
  • Correspondence of the Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners

The collection is divided into the following levels of search:

1. AIDE: Index to Volumes - This search is not a name index. It lists the full description given by the National Archives and Records Administration of the individual lists.

2. The lists arranged by locality. Many of these localities are further divided by individual lists. These lists may be have any of the following:

  • Alphabetical arrangement
  • Chronological arrangement
  • Name index at the beginning of the list
  • Name index at the end of the list

This collection includes prisoner lists from the following locations:

AK, Little Rock, Military Prison MO, St. Louis, Gratiot & Myrtle Streets Prisons
DC, Washington, Old Capitol Prison MO, St. Louis, Gratiot & Myrtle Streets Prisons
DE, Ft. Delaware, Military Prison MS, Ship Island NY, Elmira, Military Prison
Department of Missouri NY, Ft. Columbus, Military Prison
Department of the Gulf NY, Ft. Lafayette, Military Prison
Department of Ohio NY, Hart Island, Prison Camp
District of West Tennessee, Provost Marshal's Office OH, Camp Chase, Military Prison
Division of West Mississippi OH, Cincinnati, McLean Barracks
IL, Alton, Military Prison OH, Johnson's Island, Military Prison
IL, Camp Butler, Military Prison Records of Several Prisons
IL, Camp Douglas, Military Prison Records relating to all prisoners
IL, Rock Island Barracks, Military Prison SC, Hilton Head, Prison Camp
IN, Camp Morton, Military Prison TN, Knoxville
KY, Louisville, Military Prison TN, Memphis, Military Prison
LA, New Orleans TN, Nashville, Department of the Cumberland
MA, Ft. Warren, Military Prison VA, Bowling Green, Provost Marshal's Office
MD, Ft. McHenry, Military Prison VA, Newport News, Military Prison
MD, Point Lookout, Military Prison VA, Richmond

"The War Department appointed Lt. Col. William Hoffman to be Commissary General of Prisoners in October 1861. Col. Hoffman was responsible for overseeing the handling and treatment of Confederate prisoners of war. In July 1862, the War Department established the Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners, an independent agency within the Department, which was responsible for the supervision of Confederate prisoners of war and political prisoners confined in Union prisons. The Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners was abolished and the Confederate records eventually became part of the Collection of Confederate Records in the War Department. That collection now comprises National Archives Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records." 

Confederate Prisoner Records 

These records are for the years 1861 to 1866. 

Opposing armies kept an account of war prisoners so as to effectively trade them for their own soldiers. Prisoners were exchanged on the following basis:

  • 1 general = 46 privates
  • 1 major general = 40 privates
  • 1 brigadier general = 20 privates
  • 1 colonel = 15 privates
  • 1 lieutenant colonel = 10 privates
  • 1 major = 8 privates
  • 1 captain = 6 privates
  • 1 lieutenant = 4 privates
  • 1 noncommissioned officer = 2 privates

Union and Confederate Prisoner of War Camps

Record accuracy depends largely on the accuracy of the document authors and may be subject to inaccuracies.

For a list of records by prison currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

United States. War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners; Surgeon General's Office. Selected Records to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865. Record Group 109, NARA publication M598. Federal Archives and Records Center. Washington D.C.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

United States,Selected Records to Confederate Prisoners of War DGS 004859835 00068.jpg

The key genealogical facts in these records. However, they generally include the following:

  • Name of prisoner
  • Name of prison
  • Date of entry in the report, list, or ledger
  • Reason for entry in the repost, list, or ledger

Depending on the list, the following information may also be included:

  • Birth date and place
  • Death date and place
  • Burial date and place
  • Cause of death
  • Age
  • Physical description
  • Names of relatives or friends
  • Enlistment date and place
  • Last residence prior to enlistment
  • Monies exchanged
  • Release or transfer date

How to Use the Record

To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒ Select the Prisoner or Prison/Station Records ⇒ Select the Document Type which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

To begin your search you will need to know the following:

  • Full name
  • Location of the prison or states where their regiment served

If you are having difficulty finding your ancestor, look for variations in the spelling of the name. If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names. You may also want to search the records of other prisons.

Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records.

For example:

  • Death dates may lead to death certificates, mortuary, or burial records.
  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the prior residence, enlistment place, or place of birth to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Place of enlistment or previous residence may lead to other military or pension records. Be aware that Confederate pensions were awarded by the individual states.
  • Prisoners who enlisted in the United States military may have service records or pensions from the United States. 

You may also find these search tips helpful:

  • Compile a list of other prisoners with the same surname. If the surname is uncommon, they may be relatives.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"United States, Records of Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865"   digital images, FamilySearch, https://familysearch,org: accessed 29 August 2012). United States, Records of...isoners of War, 1861-1865 > Department of Missouri > Prisoner registers, 1862, v. 318-322 > Image 10 of 38, W J Duncan; citing United States. War Department's Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners; Surgeon General's Office. Selected Records to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865. Record Group 109, NARA publication M598. Federal Archives and Records Center. Washington D.C.