The Civil War Prisons Message Board

Going Home to NC from Hart's Island

Hello Glenn:

Private David Land, Co. I, 13th North Carolina Infantry

You wrote: >>>He was held till June 19th then released upon taking the oath. Family "oral history" says he "walked back to North Carolina barefoot". I was interested in your statement about the rebels receiving rail transportation to the nearest point closest home. He was a conscript from Wilkes County. Can you tell how far he was probably brought.<<<

David’s CMSR contains a record card extracted from the Oath of Allegiance muster roll or register showing his name, rank, regiment and that his place of residence for transportation purposes was Wilkes County, North Carolina. A Register of POWs at Hart’s Island states that he was released on 19 JUN 1865 under General Orders No. 109 upon taking the Oath of Allegiance. The endorsement record at the bottom of the Oath of Allegiance card shows that they departed Hart’s Island on 20 JUN 1865.

Wilkes County, North Carolina is in the Blue Ridge Mountain area or northwest corner of the state. The East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad ran north from Knoxville to Bristol where it connected to the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. Bristol might have been the nearest railroad station giving access to Wilkes County, but General Stoneman’s Federal cavalry dismantled this railroad line as far north as Salem, Virginia in the closing weeks of the war. Confederate POWs released from Fort Delaware whose homes were in southwestern Virginia had to walk from Salem.

The next closest railhead for Wilkes County appears to be Greensboro, North Carolina. The North Carolina State Railroad was intact at the end of the war. It ran from Charlotte north to Greensboro and then eastward to Raleigh and down to Goldsboro. The Atlantic & North Carolina ran from Morehead City on the coast through New Bern to Goldsboro. The Union army used this railroad as far as Goldsboro during the latter stages of the war. Goldsboro was the end point objective of General Sherman’s line of march through eastern North Carolina in March 1865. By June 1865, any damage to the North Carolina State RR connection between Goldsboro and Raleigh would have been repaired by the Union army for their own use.

The Confederate government including President Jefferson Davis evacuated Richmond on 2 APR 1865 and arrived in Greensboro using the Richmond & Danville Railroad. In June 1865, a Confederate officer en route home from Fort Delaware arrived at City Point by water and traveled by train from City Point through Petersburg, Burkeville, Danville and Greensboro to Charlotte.

Some determined research might come up with how the released POWs from Harts Island traveled. Water transportation to either City Point or Morehead City seems probable with rail travel to Greensboro available from either point. Delivered by government transportation to Greensboro, David LAND would have walked home from there through modern day Winston-Salem to Wilkesboro.

You wrote: >>>There is no record of his taking the oath in his CMSR I've a number of East Tennessee Confederates on the maternal side of my family tree who were paroled at Vicksburg. Their paroles are part of their record. Wonder why the difference?<<<

I think you must be asking why there is no copy of the Oath of Allegiance certificate in the CMSR. At Fort Delaware, under General Orders No. 109, the prisoners swore to the Oath of Allegiance read to them in a group formation and then each signed a roster in a ledger book with the oath language preprinted at the top. At this point, they had the option to ask to take the Johnson Amnesty Oath. Prior to departure, they signed a certificate containing either the Oath of Allegiance or the Amnesty Oath to take with them as travel papers. The Society has copies of both oaths which were sent to us by family members.

If you are interested in more details on General Orders No. 109, which directed that government transportation be provided for the returning prisoners, go to the Fort Delaware Society Website Directory Page [www.fortdelaware.org/FDS%20Website%20Directory.htm] and scroll down towards the bottom. Click on the link to “Going Home – A Discharge Time Line”.

You mentioned that we have corresponded before about John COPASS of the 60th Tennessee Infantry who died at Fort Delaware. Would you mind contacting me at society@fortdelaware.org so I can pick up the threads of that conversation?

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

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