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Veterans' Day 1999 Tribute

Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates
by Edwin W. Beitzell

DearREADERS,
From the author: "The story of the Point Lookout prison camp for Confederate soldiers and sailors has never been written although most of the records survived the War and are carefully preserved at the US National Archives in Washington, D. C. In the general Civil War collections in libraries little is to be found on Camp Hoffman or Point Lookout prison as it generally came to be known. There is some sketchy data in the Volumes of the War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies and an occasional story or anecdote will be found in publications such as the Confederate Veteran or the South Historical Society Papers.

In June 1953 the St. Mary's County, MD Historical Society began publishing its monthly magazine, the Chronicles of St. Mary's. Beginning in No. 3 of Volume 3, the Society started accumulating data on the prison camp at Point Lookout, with the hope that some day the story of the camp might be told in full. The author did the first series of three articles in the Chronicles. utilizing the "Official Records" and the data at the Archives. The records at the Archives at that time had not been put on film and were difficult to use so that life in the prison camp was only high-lighted...

The story of the prison camp is a horrid story to tell. It is a story of cruel decisions in high places -- decisions arrived at coldly and without compassion. It is a story of diarrhea and dysentery, of typhoid and typus, of burning sands and freezing cold in rotten tents -- it is a story of senseless shootings by the guards, it is a story of despair and the death of 4,000 prisoners, many of whom could have been saved.

                 
click photos for larger views
Map of Barracks &
Sergeant Bartlett Yancey Malone, Co. H. 6th N. C. Infantry. C. S. A.

Two invaluable sources describing life in the camp are the diaries of Bartlett Yancey Malone and Charles Warren Hutt. Here are the detailed day by day happenings in the camp recorded as the events happened with no time lapse to dim or soften memory. These men were veteran campaigners, used to the hardships of war including slim rations and extremes of heat and cold so they recorded life in the camp simply as they experienced it, without exaggeration and with little rancor."

Chapter headings include:

  • Brief History of Point Lookout, Maryland

  • Wartime Sentiments in St. Mary's County

  • Establishment of Hammond General Hospital & Prisoner of War Depot

  • Life in the Prison Camp

  • Attempt to Free the Prisoners at Point Lookout

  • Diary and other Accounts of Prison Life

  • The Prison Camp as Seen By the North

  • Confederate Dead at Point Lookout

  • Responsibility for Camp Conditions

North or South, regardless of your orientation, you can't help but get emotional when you read original prisoner of war letters, and view the sketches of camp made by the prisoners themselves.  Each chapter has source notes.  There are excellent maps and a few photos of what has survived including artifacts and the ruins of Ft. Lincoln.

Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates
by Edwin W. Beitzell
of St. Mary's County, Maryland
copyright 1983
fourth printing 1991
ISBN 72-85750

Order from:
St. Mary's County Historical Society
PO Box 212
Leonardtown, Maryland 20650

For Further Reading
Point Lookout Prisoners of War Descendants

Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
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