Salisbury Prison

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Salisbury Prison in 1864, illustration from 1886

Salisbury Prison was a military prison of the Confederate States of America in Rowan County, North Carolina. Today the site is Salisbury National Cemetery, located in the city of Salisbury, North Carolina.

In May 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union and the Confederacy sought a site in Rowan County for a military prison. A twenty-year-old abandoned cotton mill near the railroad line was selected as the location. It was brick and three stories tall with an attic. Cottages and a stockade were later added. The number of prisoners increased from 120 in December 1861 to 1400 in May 1862.[1] In the early part of the war, prisoners were well cared for and even indulged in baseball as is recorded by Otto Boetticher. His drawing at Salisbury Confederate Prison is the first drawing ever of a baseball game in America.[citation needed] By October 1864 the prison held 5000, and 10,000 soon after that. The town of Salisbury had only 2000 residents, making it the fourth largest town in the state, and there was concern about the safety of those on the outside. Later when the prison became overcrowded and the death rate rose from 2% to 28%, mass graves were used to accommodate the dead.

In February 1865 men were moved to other locations. 3729 who could do so marched to Greensboro to be taken by train to Wilmington, North Carolina. 1420 others were transferred to Richmond, Virginia. By the time Gen. George Stoneman reached Salisbury, the prison was a supply depot. Stoneman ordered the prison burned and a wood fence built around the graves. Of the buildings that constituted the prison, one house on Bank Street still stands.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Prison History". Salisbury Confederate Prison Association. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 

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Coordinates: 35°39′41″N 80°28′24″W / 35.6613°N 80.4733°W / 35.6613; -80.4733