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Re: Hart's Island Civil War Prison NY

Gale and George:

Based on George's input, I examined the 14th Georgia Infantry's Compiled Military Service Records for Westley C. Beall, John D. Holloway, James Rainey, Joseph Sydney Kimbrough, and Robert Watson. According to the CMSR, Joseph S. Kimbrough was surrendered at Appomattox Court House on 9 APR 1865. However, John S. Kimbrough was among the Hart's Island POWs.

All five of these CMSR's contain two Federal POW records documenting their presence at Hart's Island April-June 1865. The CMSR for Beall, Holloway, Rainey, John S. Kimbrough, and Watson all contain one record in common - an entry from the Register of Prisoners of War at Hart's Island (Hart's Island, NY, Register No. 1) showing that they were captured at Petersburg on 3 APR 1865 and sent from City Point to Hart's Island arriving 7 APR 1865. James Rainey died of double pneumonia on 29 MAY 1865 at Hart's Island. Beall, Holloway, John S. Kimbrough, and Watson all took the Oath of Allegiance on 15 JUN 1965 under General Orders No. 109 and were released. Transportation to their homes was authorized under G. O. #109 and their counties of residence for this purpose stated: Beall (Forsyth County, GA), Holloway (Jasper County, GA), Kimbrough (Cass County, GA), Watson (Dooley County, GA).

Now back to the BALLEWs!

The CMSR for John E. BALLEW shows that he was wounded in the Battle of 2nd Manassas, captured and paroled at Warrenton, Virginia, had his leg amputated in the U. S. Army General Hospital at Warrenton, and died there 3 OCT 1862. Without explanation, an Oath of Allegiance record identical to those found in the five records above appears in John E. BALLEW's CMSR file. The name on the record is presented as "J. E. BALLEW", a private in the 14th Georgia Infantry. No company was listed. Unfortunately, there is no entry from the Hart's Island "Register No. 1" showing his capture on 3 APR 1865 at Petersburg and his arrival at Hart's Island on 7 APR 65.

Since John died on 3 OCT 1862, it is a fair presumption that George E. BALLEW was captured on 3 APR 1865 along with the other men and sent to Hart's Island. I would conclude that the Oath of Allegiance record under "J. E. BALLEW" should have been filed under "G. E. BALLEW" instead. The absence of the "Register" record probably prevented the War Department archivist who did the extraction of the Oath of Allegiance records circa 1900 from reaching the same conclusion. The Hart's Island Oath of Allegiance record shows that "J. E. BALLEW" [I think it should be G. E. BALLEW] was a resident of Gordon County, Georgia and that he had a fair complexion, light hair, blue eyes, and stood 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall. Both John and George were enrolled on 4 MAR 1862 in Murray, Georgia.

Gale - if you want to pursue the missing record in the National Archives, you should look for "Hart's Island, New York, Register No. 1" which was likely created when the POWs arrived at Hart's Island in April 1865. You will likely need to take a trip to DC, or hire a DC genealogist to search for this document and do the research for you.

One other thought, remember that the Federals creating the original POW records during the war knew only what the captives told them about themselves - name, rank, unit of service, etc. There was no way to cross check Confederate muster rolls until 50 years after the war when what we now call the Compiled Military Service Records were created. We descendants of Confederate soldiers owe a great deal to those Federal civil servants employed to extract data about our individual ancestors from the original muster rolls and records .

I hope this all helps!

Hugh Simmons
Fort Delaware Society
Website: www.fortdelaware.org
E-mail: society@fortdelaware.org

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