Point Lookout Prison Camp   “If It Were Not For Hope,  How Could We Live In A Place Like This?”  The Civil War Prison Camp at Point Lookout, Maryland July 1863 – August 1865  New Book by Robert E. Crickenberger, Jr.
Point Lookout Bios of Notable Prisoners and Guards A sample of some of the bios contained in the book
Confederate Prisoners
Union Guards
Sergeant James William Thomas Co A, 2nd Maryland Infantry CSA Born on April 2, 1840, James William Thomas was the youngest of three brothers of a well-rooted and influential southern Maryland family. They would own four plantations in St. Mary’s County and one in neighboring Calvert County. His ancestry would include William Thomas Sr and Jr., both served as Majors in the Maryland Line during the American Revolution while one grandfather, Dr. James Thomas, would become Governor of the State of Maryland from 1833 to 1836. All three would enlist in the 2 nd Maryland on June 19,1861. The oldest brother of the three, Richard, had added the name Zarvona to his name forming “Zarvona’s Zouaves.” Richard and his men captured a Union vessel with Thomas disguising himself as a French woman. He was arrested during a second attempt to capture another Union ship, resulting in his spending time in a Union prison. The second oldest, George, was promoted to Captain in the 2 nd Maryland Infantry and wounded twice (Gettysburg and Cold Harbor). James participated in the Battles of Second Winchester, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. His distinction in this article is that he would become a prisoner held at Point Lookout, not once, but twice. James would make his first trip as prisoner of war to Point Lookout on August 24, 1864, after having been captured at Petersburg. He would soon reside with several fellow prisoners from the 2 nd Maryland. A long-time friend, Sergeant-Major William (Billy) Laird of the 2 nd Maryland would be appointed Sergeant-Major of the prison camp. The Thomas family were residents of St. Mary’s County living approximately twenty-five miles or so, north of Point Lookout. As a result, James was soon in correspondence with his mother and sister informing them of his incarceration at the prison. In no time, he was receiving food and cash from his family and any other necessary items needed for a prisoner to survive prison life. James was apparently of a good heart and shared much of his wealth with his fellow prisoners. As a result, they had purchased the necessary construction materials to improve their shelter converting it into a “cracker box house” on what was known as “cracker box row” (also referred to as “Maryland Avenue” due to the fact that many prisoners from Maryland resided on this street in the prison). It was stated by other prisoners that those fellow inmates from Maryland had a more tolerable existence at Point Lookout, as they had easier access to their families and friends. This evidently was the case with James. His mother and sister were permitted to visit as well as to send food, cash, and clothing to him after plying the provost marshal with a ham or a turkey every now and then. James was exchanged in March 1865 only to be recaptured a few weeks later. As federal forces breached the Confederate works defending Petersburg, Thomas was once again made a prisoner of war on April 2, 1865. He would return to Point Lookout on April 3 rd , much to the amusement of some of the guards who recognized him. James was finally released by taking the Oath of Allegiance on May 26, 1865. James William Thomas was one of the few prisoners from Point Lookout that would walk home from Point Lookout. After the war, he would leave St. Mary’s County to become a civil engineer in Baltimore for a few years. He eventually returned to St. Mary’s County and purchased a farm on Indian Creek near Benedict, Maryland. James Thomas was severely injured during an accident on his farm passing on December 21, 1901, at the age of 61 as a result of his injuries.
Union Confederate
Click on name to view bio
Left: Grave site of James William Thomas, All Faith Episcopal Church Cemeter, Mechanicsville, Maryland. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18138767/james-william- thomas
Private Martin Alonzo Haynes Company I, 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry On the sultry afternoon of July 31, 1863, the remnants of the 2nd and 12th New Hampshire Infantry regiments arrived at the wharf at Point Lookout. Their journey was brief traveling down the Potomac river from Washington city. They had been there before in 1862 on their way to what would be known as the Peninsular Campaign, in Virginia. Their transport boats made a brief layover for a few hours to take on water for the crew and the ships boilers. However, this time, the visit would not be as brief as that of the year before. Arriving with their personal and regimental baggage came 136 prisoners of war who would be the first to be incarcerated at the new prison located in southern Maryland. The two veteran regiments barely mustered 300 men together after having taken devastating losses earlier in July defending a Peach Orchard on a rise of ground, at the Battle of Gettysburg. General Gilman Marston, the former colonel of the 2nd regiment, now the commanding officer of Point Lookout, arranged to cobble together an ad-hoc brigade of all New Hampshire men whom he managed to have detailed to the recently opened prison at Point Lookout. It was ordered that they remain there until their ranks were replenished with new recruits after which, they were to be returned to the Army of the Potomac. Private Martin Haynes would be one of the fortunate survivors to arrive at Point Lookout that hot summer day. Prior to the war, Martin Haynes was a printer’s apprentice at a print shop in his home town of Manchester, New Hampshire. Martin was a boy of nineteen when he answered his State’s call for volunteers in June 1861 enlisting into the much-venerated 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. The 2nd New Hampshire would serve in many of the early battles of the war up to their transfer to Point Lookout moving from there to General Grant’s Overland Campaign. He survives the war mustering out with his regiment shortly after the Battle of Cold Harbor in June 1864. In the post-war years, Haynes would write the regimental history for the 2nd New Hampshire Association, once in 1865 followed by a revised second edition in 1896. Haynes, a prolific letter writer, wrote many letters to his fiancé’ (who would become his wife in June 1863), throughout his time in the army. Fortunately, for future researchers, his wife kept his wartime letters. Haynes would take these letters and publish them under the title, “A Minor History Compiled From a Soldier Boy’s Letters to the Girl I Left Behind Me” in 1916.
Private Stanley J. Morrow 20th Veteran Reserve Corp Stanley J. Morrow was transferred to Point Lookout in May 1864 as a soldier in the 20 th Veteran Reserve Corps. Morrow, who had been wounded, was a drummer from the 7 th Wisconsin Infantry of the Iron Brigade. His skill as a musician placed him in the regimental band of the 20 th V.R.C. Even though the circumstances are unknown, Morrow soon found himself under the tutelage of Matthew Brady, who established another image gallery at Point Lookout. Morrow became an assistant at this gallery and soon began offering his services as a photographer to both Union and Confederate soldiers. As evidenced by some of the subject matter of Morrow’s images, his gallery was most likely located near the army hospital area. Regardless of the identity of his mentor, Morrow’s images of the camp buildings, prisoners, the staff, and members of the garrison have often appeared in various publications, depicting much of Point Lookout. Morrow was mustered out of the service September 1, 1864, and returned to Wisconsin. In 1866. Morrow married, and the couple would head west, settling in Yankton, South Dakota territory, soon opening a photographic studio. Morrow would lead a distinguished career capturing some of the most iconic photographs of the West and those of American Indians. In 1876, Morrow had obtained permission from Lieutenant-Colonel George Custer to accompany him and the 7 th Cavalry on their ill-fated expedition against the Sioux. Fortunately for Morrow, he would miss leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln with Custer and the 7 th due to the tardy arrival of his ordered photographic chemicals, which arrived after Custer’s departure. Due to this delay, Morrow missed riding into history with Custer and his men. However, he would eventually become the official photographer for the command of General George Crook after the Battle of the Little Big Horn and photograph much of the campaign, including the initial recovery and burial expedition in 1877 for those soldiers slain at the Little Big Horn. Stanley J. Morrow. A Civil War Photographer at Point Lookout, Maryland. Gerald J. Sword. Chronicles of St. Mary’s. Monthly Bulletin of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society. Vol. 31. No. 12. December 1983, 105.
Erastus W. Watson 20th Veteran Reserve Corp. Erastus W. Watson entered the rolls as a private of the 3 rd Massachusetts Infantry on April 16, 1861. He would later re-enlist as sergeant joining the ranks of the 18 th Massachusetts Infantry and was soon promoted to 2 nd Lieutenant. He was wounded twice; once in August 1862 at the Battle of 2 nd Manassas and again at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of the same year. He was soon promoted to 1 st Lieutenant in February the following year. Because of the physical restrictions caused by his wounds, Watson successfully applied for transfer to the Veteran Reserve Corps (VRC). He received his assignment to the 20 th VRC in early 1863, receiving brevet ranks of Captain and Major during his enlistment. In mid-May 1864, the 20 th VRC was transferred to Point Lookout for guard duty. Fortunately to the benefit of his family and future researchers, Erastus was a prolific letter writer who wrote regularly to his mother in Massachusetts. In his letters, he describes what life was like while on duty at Point Lookout. In addition to his letters, Watson also kept a diary filled with endnotes and anecdotes accompanied by an additional edition of notes and comments. As redundant as this may seem, all were important as one tended to be more descriptive than the other as if he were writing to different levels of readers. While serving at Point Lookout, Watson performed the duties as adjutant to the 20 th VRC, and performed the various other duties as required of an officer of the command. Ironically, Watson served under the last of a succession of commanding officers at Point Lookout, Brigadier General James Barnes. Prior to his promotion to Brigadier General, Barnes had served as the Colonel commanding the same 18 th Massachusetts Infantry that Watson had served. Both would renew their acquaintance while at Point Lookout. During the post-war years, Watson would serve on the Freeman’s Bureau in Charleston, South Carolina, and the U.S. government in the revenue service. At age 59, Watson died suddenly of heart failure on January 6, 1897. Major Erastus W. Everson is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Pembroke, Massachusetts.
Erastus W. Watson, 20th VRC
Private Martin Alonzo Haynes, Company I, 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Private Stanley J. Morrow, 20th Veteran Reserve Corp
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