ECW Weekender: Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium

Numerous conferences and symposiums that specialize in the American Civil War often examine the many famed battles, important and leading figures, and the memory and monuments of the war itself. We were recently notified by Sue Curtis, chair of the Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium, of a unique opportunity to spend a weekend learning about this Civil War prison as well as the prisoner of war experience. See below for further details on how to participate in this exciting weekend of history.

The 20th Annual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium, sponsored by the Robert F. Hoke Chapter 78 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will be held April 28-30.  This year’s event continues to provide seven historical lectures that relate to the Confederate military prison, two public memorial services, plus a banquet, displays, and books.  It is held in several locations and all interested are invited to register.  The Salisbury Confederate Prison Association’s annual meeting will take place at the conclusion of the Saturday lectures.

Friday evening activities begin at 5:00 pm in the Landmark Church fellowship hall with the Reunion of descendants and friends.  Light refreshments will be served and displays will be set up.  At 6:00 pm the attendees will introduce themselves and talk about any connection they might have to the Prison. Veterans in attendance will be recognized with music and lapel ribbons.  The Friendship Banquet be catered for the 20thyear by Debbie Suggs. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Kevin Cherry who will speak on resources available for research on the Salisbury Confederate Prison.  Dr. Kevin Cherry is Deputy Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and Director of the office of Archives, History and Parks.  He serves as the Secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission and the State Historic Preservation Officer.  He has worked for the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, DC, taught in the College of Education at East Carolina University, and served as History Room Librarian for the Rowan Public Library.  Dr. Cherry is a native of Denver, NC and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Saturday’s six lectures will be held in the Tom Smith Auditorium of Ketner Hall on the Catawba College campus along with breaks for light refreshments, displays, and books.  Dr. Gary Freeze, American history professor at Catawba, will give an overview of the history of the Prison.  Dr. Freeze holds all of his degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has become nationally noted as a historian of the North Carolina Piedmont. His articles on 19th Century industrialization are now appearing as footnotes in works being published around the world. He has written a trilogy on the local heritage of Catawba County. His textbook on North Carolina history is used by eighth graders across the state. He has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and was named the Swink Professor for Excellence in Teaching, Catawba College’s highest honor for classroom instruction. Dr. Freeze also received the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal from the United Daughters of the Confederacy for his many talks on the Civil War era.

Author and Historian Robert Carpenter of North Carolina will share from letters that Salisbury Prison guard Daniel Haynes Dellinger wrote.  Mr. Carpenter received his BA Degree from Lenoir Rhyne College, his Master’s Degree from Wake Forest University, and his EDS Degree from UNC Charlotte.  He retired after 34 years in education in Gaston County including 27 years as a principal.  He currently serves Belmont Abbey College as an adjunct professor and teaches genealogy classes at Gaston College.  In 2009 he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award. He currently serves on the Gaston County Historic Preservation Commission and is president and editor of the Gaston Lincoln Genealogical Society.  He has authored several books including Carpenter’s A Plenty and Gaston County, North Carolina in the Civil War.

Historian and Descendant Ron Nichols of Wisconsin will talk about his Salisbury POW ancestor, Edward Nichols Co. C,36th WI Inf.  Mr. Nichols has been an amateur genealogist since the 1970’s and took part in an all-volunteer project to create a biographic outline of some 3,000 soldiers from Monroe County, WI.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS degree in Zoology.  He is a veteran of the United States Army during the Vietnam Era and was stationed at Bremerhaven, Germany with the 2nd Field Hospital.  He retired from the VA Medical Center in Madison, WI after 30 years as a Clinical Perfusionist.  Mr. Nichols is Recording Secretary for the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Inc.

Archaeologist Ken Robinson of North Carolina will show slides and talk about the 2005 and 2012 studies of the Prison that he led for the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Inc. Mr. Robinson is an archaeologist with more than 35 years of professional experience in the field. He received his BA Degree in anthropology from Wake Forest University and his MA Degree in anthropology from the University of Kentucky. Much of his archaeological research has been in North Carolina, but he also has conducted research in other parts of the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. He has held archaeology positions in local and state government agencies and private consulting firms, and he served as Director of Public Archaeology at Wake Forest University for 12 years. He is a former member of the NC National Register Advisory Committee for the N.C. Department of Cultural Resource and the Executive Committee of the NC Archaeology Council. He now works in the Advancement Office of Wake Forest.

Historian and Descendant Geoffrey Ryder, M.D. of Colorado will be talking about PTSD among prisoners.  Dr. Ryder received his M.D. degree from Albany Medical College and his M.P.H. from Harvard University.  He served a career in the Army, wherein he took Residencies in Psychiatry and later Aerospace Medicine. He held diverse assignments including the teaching faculty at Eisenhower Army Medical Center and flying combat in the first Gulf War.  He has subsequently practiced in the VA, particularly treating those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Salisbury POW Walter Bills, Capt. Graham’s Co. B, 39th MA Vols., was an uncle of Dr. Ryder’s great great-grandfather.  Dr. Ryder is a past officer of the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Inc.

Author and Historian Dr. James R. Tootle of Ohio will speak about the game of baseball during the Civil War and at the Salisbury Confederate Prison.  Dr. Tootle’s Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. Degrees in American History are all from Ohio State University in Columbus.  At his alma mater he taught in the history department, served as a senior administrator, and for 16 years was assistant dean of the Colleges of the Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Tootle is a baseball historian and volunteers with the Ohio Historical Society as a member of the Ohio Village Muffins, a vintage baseball team which played exhibition games in Salisbury during the 10thAnnual Salisbury Confederate Prison Symposium in 2007.  He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, the North American Society for Sport History, the Columbus Historical Society, and the Central Ohio Home Plate Club.  Dr. Tootle has authored two books on baseball — Vintage Base Ball, Recapturing the National Pastime and Baseball in Columbus.

On Sunday there are 2 public memorial services, a 10:00 am Service for prisoners at the Salisbury National Cemetery and an 11:00 am Service for guards at the Old Lutheran Cemetery.  Among groups participating in the services with the Robert F. Hoke Chapter of the UDC will be the Charles F. Fisher Chapter 73 of the Children of the Confederacy, Salisbury Confederate Prison Association, Order of the Black Rose, Gibbon-Burke Camp 2 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 4th Iowa Independent Light Artillery and the 40thNorth Carolina, Orange Light Artillery.   Later that afternoon there will be a tour of the Prison site for registrants.

Registration for the Symposium is $65 per person when postmarked by April 7, $75 afterwards. There is a $15 charge for refunds after April 14 and no refunds after April 21. Send checks to Robert F. Hoke Chapter 78, UDC, PO Box 83, Salisbury, NC 28145-0083.     For additional information contact Symposium Chairman Sue Curtis (704) 637-6411,

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