|Salisbury Prison, as depicted in this 1886 lithograph
(University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
150 years ago today, the 48th Pennsylvania lost 55 men in the Battle of Peebles's Farm. Four of these men were either killed or mortally wounded; eight others were wounded. The remaining 43 fell into Confederate hands as prisoners-of-war. Two years earlier, at the Battle of Second Manassas, 57 members of the regiment were captured but these men were soon after paroled, exchanged, and permitted to rejoin the ranks of the 48th. By 1864, however, the system of prisoner exchanges had broken down and now, these captured soldiers would be marched under armed guard to the rear, then placed aboard train cars for the long journey to a prisoner-of-war camp. Most would be taken to Salisbury Prison, in Rowan County, North Carolina, an abandoned textile mill that had been converted into a prison. Designed to hold but 2,500 men, in early October, some 10,000 prisoners were packed and crammed into its sixteen acres, including most of the 48th Pennsylvania soldiers who had been captured at Peebles's Farm. And it would be there where sixteen of these men would perish, victims, said regimental historian Joseph Gould, of "the inhuman treatment experienced by all Union prisoners in rebel prisons."
|Corporal Michael Condron, Co. C
Died in Salisbury Prison, 11/30/1864
(John D. Hoptak Collection)
long for Salisbury to claim its first victims. Thirty-six-year-old
All of these men, listed above, as having died while confined in Salisbury Prison were all, more than likely buried there in any one of the eighteen trenches that had been dug just southeast of the prison walls, each 240-feet in length. The dead were collected and buried rather unceremoniously there, without coffins, stacked one next to the other.
|The Location of the Eighteen Trenches Were the Dead from Salisbury Were Buried
Today within the Salisbury National Cemetery
But there were four other soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania--at least four other soldiers--who died from the effects of confinement shortly after their release. This included Privates Joshua Reed and Nicholas Gross of Company G. Reed had entered the regiment in February 1862 and since then had been wounded at 2nd Bull Run and at Petersburg in June 1864. Captured at Peebles's Farm and confined at Salisbury, this thirty-year-old laborer from Barry Township died at his home in the spring of 1865. Gross, a thirty-eight-year-old watchmaker from Prussia, succumbed to chronic diarrhea shortly after his release and was buried in the Annapolis National Cemetery. 1st Sergeant Henry Graeff was eighteen years old and a student when he volunteered to serve in Company D, 48th in the summer of 1861. Confined at Salisbury, Graeff died in his Pottsville home on March 29, 1865 and was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery there. And, finally, there was Private Lewis Sterner, who, in May 1864, became a soldier in the ranks of Company A, 48th Pennsylvania. The 5'7 1/2", Light-Complexioned, Grey-Eyed, Brown-Haired laborer was released from confinement at Salisbury and returned to his Tamaqua home. He died there on April 11, 1865. Upon his tombstone it is recorded that young, twenty-two-year-old Sterner died "of the treatment received while in rebel prison."
|The Possible Grave of Private Joshua Reed
Company G, 48th in Lavelle, Schuylkill County
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