Tag Archives: Union

The lives of prisoners of war at Johnson’s Island

The SHC contains a number of collections that document the lives of Confederate prisoners at Johnson’s Island Prison near Sandusky, Ohio. [Click here to see a listing of catalog records of SHC material on the subject.]

Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863, Sandusky Bay near Sandusky, Ohio

Drawing of Johnson’s Island Prison, 7 October 1863 (from Joseph Mason Kern Papers, SHC #2526-z)

The image above comes from the SHC’s Joseph Mason Kern Papers (SHC collection #2526-z).  Kern (b. 1842), of Romney, Va., served in the C.S.A. 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and was imprisoned for several months at Johnson’s Island. Kern compiled a scrapbook that documents his Civil War experiences and his time at Johnson’s Island, and includes this colored map of the prison.

A second example:  The SHC preserves two diaries of Robert Bingham (1838-1927) kept, 1863-1864, while he was a prisoner at Norfolk, Va., Fort Delaware, Johnson’s Island, Ohio, and Point Lookout, Md.  The diary describes prison life, including quarters, gambling, work, escape plots, sermons, food, illness, and hospitals at various prison camps.  Here’s his diary entry from August 26, 1863 (while imprisoned at Johnson’s Island):

Two months.  Yes it is a long time to be in prison. I have not heard a word from my wife in two months. It is very long.  How my heart has yearned for her in these two months! & for my child.  God bless them – & keep them.  The Lord make his face to shine upon them & be gracious to them.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon them & grant them peace.  Two months in prison.  I have suffered – some from sickness, much from anxiety about home – much from looking thro[ugh] bars & across bayonets – but I have much to be thankful for.  I have had money – not in abundance, but enough.  I have had books – & several very kind letters & have been very much more comfortable than I expected to be.  I wrote to Dell to day assuring her of this & I do hope the letter may get thro[ugh].  Other have got letters thro[ugh] both ways.