The Civil War Prisons Message Board

Confederate Cotton for POWs

On Dec.6, 1864, Brig.-Genl. W.N.R. Beal, P.A.C.S. was paroled as a prisoner of war, by agreement between Judge Robert Ould and Lt.-Genl. U.S. Grant, and appointed agent to supply Confederate prisoners of war. By the agreement, one thousand bales of cotton were to be shipped by the Confederate authorities from Mobile to New York, and there sold by Genl. Beall. The collection of Genl. Beall's papers was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. It includes the negotiations for the shipment and sale of the cotton: and letters from the prison committees chosen to issue the supplies. The "Official Record" contains many papers regarding the shipment of the cotton but the letters from the prison camps are not and contain much valuable information as to the condition of the prisoners. Correspondence from every Northern prisoner of war camp is included in Genl. Beall's papers.

The famous author Douglas Southall Freeman transcribed Genl. Beall's papers and had published in 1908 under the title, "A Calendar of Confederate Papers."

Is interesting the cotton sold for around $350,000, the equivalent of about $7,000,000 in today's money.