Confederate prison in north carolinaCharles Tucker, along with several hundred other Union soldiers captured at Cedar Creek, was sent to the Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina (pictured). A large influx of prisoners from campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Virginia, along with a Federal ban on exchanging prisoners of war, contributed to atrocious conditions at Salisbury Prison during the fall and winter of 1864. By November 8,740 inmates were being held in a prison designed to incarcerate no more than 2,500. Prisoners and guards alike suffered from inadequate clothing, food, shelter, and medical attention. Inmates were forced to either sleep outside or in tents since Confederate authorities appropriated all prison buildings for use as hospitals to care for the large numbers of sick.

Harsh conditions contributed to a large number of deaths among Union prisoners during this time. Charles Tucker died in one of the outdoor camps at Salisbury Prison on 15 December 1865 of "starvation" and "exposure." Tucker was one of around 5,000 prisoners who died at Salisbury between 1862 and 1865. Confederate guards buried him in one of eighteen mass graves dug in a field near the prison. These graves became the nucleus of what is now the Salisbury National Cemetery.


Image: Bird's Eye View of Confederate Prison Pen at Salisbury, NC, 1864 (Library of Congress)


Entry for "Tucker, Charles P."; Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's to 1917, NARA RG94 (NARA microfilm M233)

Official Report of Capt. Henry A. du Pont, Battery B, 5th U.S. Artillery, of operations October 19 [1864, Battle of Cedar Creek, Va.], in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Series 1, Volume 43, Part I, pp. 419-421

Richard Wende, Campaign of Light Battery 'B,' 5th U.S. Artillery, Commanded by Captain and Brevet Colonel H. A. du Pont (Phillipsburg, NJ: E. B. Galligan, 1895), pp. 1-7, 13, 18.

H. A. du Pont, The Campaign of 1864 in the Valley of Virginia and the Expedition to Lynchburg (New York: National Americana Society, 1925). Quotes from pp. 154-155.

"Salisbury Prison" from Learn NC, North Carolina Digital History.

"Cemeteries – Salisbury National Cemetery," United States Department of Veterans Affairs.