AncestorNews: Civil War Prisons

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

As Civil War researchers know, Andersonville was one of the most notorious Confederate prisons. During the year and a half that Andersonville was in operation, nearly 13,000 Union soldiers died there, mainly of malnutrition and disease. Imprisonment at Andersonville was often synonymous with a death sentence.

If your Civil War ancestor was of the 32,000 prisoners who marched through Andersonville’s gates, you can now search a database provided by the National Park Service. The database contains information about the prisoner’s unit, where and when he was captured, his date of death (if known) and cause of death. To access the Andersonville database, click on its link from the Macon County, Ga., home page at

If you don’t recognize the disease listed (many are out-of-date terms), check out this list of archaic medical terms at

Other prisons included the Old Capitol Prison, which was built as a temporary capitol building after the British burned the Capitol in the War of 1812. It housed several notables including Confederate generals, blockade runners, political prisoners and Belle Boyd, the Confederate spy. The yard of this prison was also where the Lincoln assassination conspirators were hanged.

Check out these sites to learn more about Civil War prison camps:

The Old Capitol Prison and Its Inmates

Andersonville Civil War Prison—Historical Background

Fort McHenry Searchable Prisoner Database

Archaeology at Andersonville

Civil War Prison Camps

Civil War Prisons and Prisoner Links