Libby Prison Records?

Georgia

Sergeant
Are there known records for POWs held at Libby Prison?
The ancestor I’m searching is George W. C. Shotts. He was a Sargent in the 1st Alabama Cavalry and was captured at Vincent’s Crossroads.

His dates would be around 10/26/63 and he mustered out at Camp Davies, Mississippi on 12/27/63.

( Original enlistment date was 12/23/62 and he mustered in on 12/31/62.)

Originally, I thought he had been held at Morgan’s Castle or Cahaba. When I didn’t find his name there, I contacted the location to ask about their records and if he could be added to their rosters- and, this afternoon I received word about him being held in Richmond.


However, I’m finding it difficult to find POW records for Libby.
Would anyone happen to have advice or a link to access the records? ( I’m on ancestry but not on Fold3.)

Thank you-
 

Fairfield

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Try http://www.mdgorman.com/Prisons/Libby/libby_prison.htm. I don't know of official records, just this collection of accounts.

You might try contacting Libby Prison (there is some kind of heritage organization in place. A colleague in the same genealogy chapter is writing a book about a local family, one of whom died in Libby. She went to Libby Prison and reported that the people there couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. Or they may refer you to NARA records.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Try http://www.mdgorman.com/Prisons/Libby/libby_prison.htm. I don't know of official records, just this collection of accounts.

You might try contacting Libby Prison (there is some kind of heritage organization in place. A colleague in the same genealogy chapter is writing a book about a local family, one of whom died in Libby. She went to Libby Prison and reported that the people there couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. Or they may refer you to NARA records.
Thank you so very much. All the online searches I found were not pricing to be helpful. I’ll check your link and hopefully when it’s safe to travel we could run over to Richmond and see what can be discovered there as well. It’s nice to hear the folks there were being so very helpful to your friend.
 

Fairfield

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Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Thank you so very much. All the online searches I found were not pricing to be helpful. I’ll check your link and hopefully when it’s safe to travel we could run over to Richmond and see what can be discovered there as well. It’s nice to hear the folks there were being so very helpful to your friend.
I noticed that much of the information was credited to Civil War Richmond Inc. so I looked it up: https://civilwarrichmond.com/. Another place to look--and to keep yourself occupied! 😊 If Richmond has such a site, other cities may also.

In general, a lot of people doing historical research overlook some of the genealogical sites (genealogy is a form of history). Sometimes it is an idea to check Cyndi's List to see what is there https://www.cyndislist.com/

I too have a relative who was in Libby so I've been checking such places as well.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I noticed that much of the information was credited to Civil War Richmond Inc. so I looked it up: https://civilwarrichmond.com/. Another place to look--and to keep yourself occupied! 😊 If Richmond has such a site, other cities may also.

In general, a lot of people doing historical research overlook some of the genealogical sites (genealogy is a form of history). Sometimes it is an idea to check Cyndi's List to see what is there https://www.cyndislist.com/

I too have a relative who was in Libby so I've been checking such places as well.
Thank you. I just emailed the archivist there to see if I could be directed to an online location. Otherwise, it might be something which will need to hold until the pandemic is resolved and I can travel to Richmond.
I’ll go check out these new links you share- thank you so much!
 

lelliott19

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Carded records from the National Archives for George W C Shotts, age 20, Co B 1st Alabama Cavalry, US, that mention his capture and imprisonment:
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Transcription of POW info on last card: Oct 1863 to Nov 1863 Absent prisoner of war in hands of enemy since engagement at Vinson's Cross Roads Oct 26' 63.

Interpreting the Memorandum below (the last card in his file), I'm not sure he was ever actually held in Richmond or if he was that there was any record of it.
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Captured at _______ 186__, confined at Richmond, Va., _________, 186__. No Record subsequent to Oct 25, 1863
 

lelliott19

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From Confederate BG Samuel W Ferguson's report of the engagement at Vincent's / Vinson's Crossroads

HEADQUARTERS BRIGADE
Near Courtland, Ala., October 31, 1863

".....the advance guards met and skirmishing began - about 1.30 p.m. The enemy [1st AL Cav US] were formed in thick woods across the road, with an open field in front, through which, swept as it was by two pieces of light artillery planted in the road, I had to advance to the attack. As rapidly as possible I formed my lines, had the men dismounted, and attacked the enemy, who were soon driven back by the Second Tennessee, under the able and gallant leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel Morton, and a portion of the Second Alabama. As soon as the horses could be brought up the fleeing enemy were hotly pursued and their retreat converted into a wild panic. The chase was kept up for some 10 miles through dense woods and over a mountainous country until dark. Their perfect knowledge and our ignorance of the country enabled most of them, however, to escape by separating into small squads and leaving the road....​
....With a loss of 2 killed and 11 wounded, I have succeeded in effectually destroying the First Alabama Tory Regiment. Up to the time I left, the enemy's loss, as far as could be ascertained, was 20 killed, including 2 captains, the adjutant of the regiment, and 1 first lieutenant; 9 wounded, including 1 first lieutenant mortally, and 29 prisoners. The woods was so dense and the fight kept up for so great a distance that many killed and wounded were not found. I do not think the number would fall short of 100 in all.​
I captured 2 pieces of artillery, 5 stand of colors, 60 elegant breech-loading carbines, with an ample supply of ammunition for present purposes, 25 Colt hostler pistols, 10 pack-saddles, 52 horses and mules, and 56 saddles. I have received no report from Major Moreland, but understand he has collected a large number of prisoners, horses, mules, &c. My force scarcely equaled that of the enemy.​
The Federal report says that the 1st AL Cav US encountered trouble at/near Jones Crossroads, which is 40 miles south of Glendale MS and several miles SE of what is now Red Bay AL (in extreme NW of AL). Red Bay was at one time called Vinson's Crossroads. It is not entirely clear to me whether most of the fighting took place in MS or AL, but, either way, its a long way from there to Richmond.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I had never heard of a Richmond connection until this afternoon when I heard back from someone through the Cahaba prison location. I knew @lelliott19, had kindly shared this page of paperwork previously but I honestly hadn’t taken it to be the situation as Richmond just seemed so far for him to have been moved from Alabama, truth be told.
I made the assumption he would have gone there due to the proximity of location to where he has been captured. ( there’s a big of back and forth whether the raid location was technically Alabama or Mississippi)

So, that’s how Libby came into play as a possibility based on my research of prisons in Richmond. He wasn’t held terribly long- two months. And, it was before they had quit exchanging POWs ( thinking that was in 1864 when that ceased) so, it’s a bit less than clear.

George’s brother who was a year younger was the ancestor who was killed on the second day of Shiloh while fighting for the confederacy.

The other older brothers looked to have been with the Bull Mountain Invincibles/42nd infantry before leaving that assignment and becoming a part of the 1st Alabama Cavalry. ( thanks to @lelliott19 for this confirmation earlier)

I so hope to determine what their reasonings were to change from the Confederacy to the Union and if losing a brother at Shiloh had anything to do with it.
There must be more to the story -
 
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Georgia

Sergeant
@lelliott19,
the power is back on! I’m wondering if the last piece of paper you shared was used when the pension was started or during some time with it? I seem to see dates of 87 and since the paper was preprinted with 6 for the date, perhaps they were using up previously printed paperwork?
( all of this is if my eyes are seeing things properly.)
 

John Hartwell

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Location
Central Massachusetts
Are there known records for POWs held at Libby Prison?
The ancestor I’m searching is George W. C. Shotts. He was a Sargent in the 1st Alabama Cavalry and was captured at Vincent’s Crossroads.

His dates would be around 10/26/63 and he mustered out at Camp Davies, Mississippi on 12/27/63.

( Original enlistment date was 12/23/62 and he mustered in on 12/31/62.)

Originally, I thought he had been held at Morgan’s Castle or Cahaba. When I didn’t find his name there, I contacted the location to ask about their records and if he could be added to their rosters- and, this afternoon I received word about him being held in Richmond.

However, I’m finding it difficult to find POW records for Libby.
Would anyone happen to have advice or a link to access the records? (I’m on ancestry but not on Fold3.)

Thank you-
I'm a little confused here. He was in the 1st Alabama, when captured in 1863, he would have been sent to a Union prison. Libby was a Confederate prison, housing only Union prisoners until March 1865, when the Federals took Richmond, and used it briefly to hold Confederate prisoners. If he was being held in Libby, or anywhere in Richmond, it must have been in the spring of '65.

Or am I misunderstanding something?
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I'm a little confused here. He was in the 1st Alabama, when captured in 1863, he would have been sent to a Union prison. Libby was a Confederate prison, housing only Union prisoners until March 1865, when the Federals took Richmond, and used it briefly to hold Confederate prisoners. If he was being held in Libby, or anywhere in Richmond, it must have been in the spring of '65.

Or am I misunderstanding something?
Actually, George WC Shotts fought for the Union, yet he was from North Alabama.
His younger brother fought for the confederacy and older brothers fought for the Confederacy and then fought for the Union.
The big question is why the change of allegiance for the older brothers. Their grandfather ( if I’ve got my genealogy correct) was one of those present at the Alabama Secession Legislature and his record shows he voted against secession. I can’t help but believe there some large piece of this puzzle that I am missing.
George’s cousins fought for the Confederacy.
 

lelliott19

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I seem to see dates of 87 and since the paper was preprinted with 6 for the date, perhaps they were using up previously printed paperwork?
The records were transcribed from rosters and rolls; individual cards [carded records] were created from those records. Those carded records were then filed by the man - to create a compiled service record for each soldier. The 87 date is when the memorandum document was created.
 

lupaglupa

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GeorgeShotts.png

I came across the card from the pension index file - evidently George lost his discharge papers and had to get a replacement certificate. It may be that his application for that and/or his pension would have more info. I'm thinking that would require ordering copies from the National Archives.
 

Fairfield

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Dec 5, 2019
This is an aside from Libby Prison but it appears to me that you are trying to "flesh out" the biographies of several ACW kindred. I am not in Alabama and my suggestion may not be applicable to the the reality there.

When I was doing the genealogical biographies of the soldiers from my area (most of whom served from Maine), my useful sources included the reenactment groups of those units. They probably knew as much about the soldiers as any historian. While their input wasn't "scholarly," it was very useful (and often quite accurate)--and a great place to start. You might try placing a general query with the Reenactors group here.

Another thought: some Maine veterans were very keen on reunions (they had spent time in close contact and faced the same peril). Records of these reunions weren't hard to find in GAR/SUV files. Caveat: this is one of the places where a primary document can be unreliable (consider the embellished narratives one hears at a high school reunion).

Lastly, in 1890 there was a census taken of Union vets. The GAR post from my town (and most Maine towns) had its members fill in a biographical sketch of them selves; that book is now in our town library with a copy at the historical society.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
View attachment 382181
I came across the card from the pension index file - evidently George lost his discharge papers and had to get a replacement certificate. It may be that his application for that and/or his pension would have more info. I'm thinking that would require ordering copies from the National Archives.
Thank you for all this extra information. I’ve contacted the National archives to see what information might could be shared online. I may need to make the trip once the pandemic situation is better.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
This is an aside from Libby Prison but it appears to me that you are trying to "flesh out" the biographies of several ACW kindred. I am not in Alabama and my suggestion may not be applicable to the the reality there.

When I was doing the genealogical biographies of the soldiers from my area (most of whom served from Maine), my useful sources included the reenactment groups of those units. They probably knew as much about the soldiers as any historian. While their input wasn't "scholarly," it was very useful (and often quite accurate)--and a great place to start. You might try placing a general query with the Reenactors group here.

Another thought: some Maine veterans were very keen on reunions (they had spent time in close contact and faced the same peril). Records of these reunions weren't hard to find in GAR/SUV files. Caveat: this is one of the places where a primary document can be unreliable (consider the embellished narratives one hears at a high school reunion).

Lastly, in 1890 there was a census taken of Union vets. The GAR post from my town (and most Maine towns) had its members fill in a biographical sketch of them selves; that book is now in our town library with a copy at the historical society.
The plot thickens...there was a fire that destroyed most of the Alabama records only those from Perryville survived.
Since my ancestor passed away in Maury County, TN, I checked the records from the 1890 Veterans Census there. There was only 1 page from Maury County and his name was not on that page.
 

John Winn

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State of Jefferson
Thank you for all this extra information. I’ve contacted the National archives to see what information might could be shared online. I may need to make the trip once the pandemic situation is better.
You won't get anything from the Archives on line. If there was a pension definitely get the file. We have a member (I can give you his email, etc - I've used him) who has a business retrieving records from the Archives and he will get you more than you'd get from the Archives (e.g. actual color images) in short order (the Archives will take months). Those pension files often have a wealth of information, not just military service related.
 
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