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Ship Island And the Civil War


The information found in these pages were ordered from Mississippi Department of archives and History. Only the information as noted has been added by S.H.A.P.E. There are errors in C.E. Cain's report which we will be researching inthe near future. We made every effort to present these pages as close to the orginal as possible.

The bio of C. E Cain was found on the Find A Grave website-----
Birth: Feb. 1, 1883
Jackson County
Mississippi, USA
Death: Aug. 14, 1963
Jasper County
Mississippi, USA

Cyril Edward Cain was born in the Dead Lake Community of Vancleave MS, - Methodist Minister - Teacher - Principle - MSU Faculty member - Historian - Author,
Best known for his two (2) volume 'Four Centuries on the Pascagoula' a History and Genealogy of the Pascagoula River Country in Jackson Co MS.

Family links:
Parents:
William Yancey Cain (1859 - 1934)
Sarah Burnettie Fletcher Cain (1859 - 1948)

Spouse:
Annie Gray Cain (1889 - 1970)


Burial:
Montrose Cemetery
Montrose
Jasper County
Mississippi, USA

Maintained by: Linda Ellis
Originally Created by: Marshall Parker
Record added: May 08, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36866857




Ship Island and the Civil War

Ship island has ever been the key to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, either for weal or for woe. Its deep water harbor caused the first settlement to be located at Ocean Springs; it served as a port for Mobile when the sand had filled the harbor at Dauphin Island; and it served as a point of departure for the founding of New Orleans. So far so good. But in 1814 this same harbor served as a base for the British fleet in it's attack of New Orleans; and in the 1860s it was the base from which the Federal troops attacked and captured New Orleans Its final disservice to the Gulf Coast was the use of the island as a prison camp for Confederate sympathizers and captured Confederate soldiers. This Camp was so intimately connected with local history that it is treated here at length.
Much of the history of the prison camp is contained, well scattered, in the official reports, as published in one hundred thirty volumes and vindictively named THE WAR OF REBELLION. These records are ex parte in that they are only the reports from the field to headquarters, being only materials available. These reports are supplemented by the reports of former prisoners as handed down to their children and grandchildren. These verbal reports to this writer throw much light on the official reports.
The conditions that existed at the this prison camp, in great part, are that to be expected of the set-up; The soldiers in charge of the camp, with the exception of the highest officers were colored troops, recently liberated from slavery, illiterate, power drunk, and anxious to demonstrate their authority over their former masters.
An attempt has been made to compile a list of all those prisoners who served on the island, but the microfilm is so dim that an accurate list is impossible. The list of those who died on the Island is better preserved and is appended.

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As early as 1847 Ship island had been declared a Military Reservation by the United States and, under the leadership of Jefferson Davis, first as United States Senator from Mississippi and later as Secretary of war under President Pierce, it was planned to build a fort on the island. This fort would be strategically located on a deep water harbor and would control the short cut through the Rigolets Pass and Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans. In 1857, Congress authorized the building of the fort and in 1858 the Mississippi Legislature ceded all right, title, claim and interest in and to Ship Island to the United States as a Military Reservation. The construction of the fort began the next year, but when the Civil War began only a small fort had been erected.
In January, 1861, The Mississippi Constitutional Convention passed ordinances declaring all lighthouses, marine hospitals, custom houses and military establishments on Ship island the property of the State of Mississippi. The Union garrison was thus left stranded and may, 1861 evacuate Island, first having destroyed their fort and other establishments.
Soon after the departure of the Union forces, five companies of Confederates took over and established a small fort and armed it with eight small cannons. This occupation was of short duration and lasted only till September, 1861, for by that time the United States had sent a large fleet to the Gulf to blockade the mouth of the Mississippi River. These Union Ships soon made the island untenable and in September 1861, the Confederates burned all their establishments, took the light house and departed.
The island was immediately taken over by the Federals but it was December before and intensive occupation fortification of the post was well underway. General Benjamin F. Butler brought some 7,00 troops as the preliminary to an attempt to take New Orleans, and a picture of the

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island is given by Mr. John H. Lang writing in 1934.
“Through the courtesy of an old friend, a retired lighthouse keeper, I have before me a map of the west end of Ship land, made in 1862, showing the old fort, not the present Fort Massachusetts, and the location of the encampment, regimental quarters, store houses, etc., and the headquarters of general Butler.
The maps show the location of foreigh(foreign) regiments, 4th Wisconsin, 8th New Hampshire, 8th Vermont, 6th Michigan, 21st Indiana, 12, 13th,14, 15th Maine, 12th Connecticut, 26th & 31st Massachusetts and one battery each from Maine and Massachusetts; four battery building, guard house,machine shop, store building, three cottages boarding house, horse camp; three warehouses, three building of the quartermaster’s department. There were two wharves, one large one small; one road east and west and one from the wharves. The road from the large wharf seemed to be a railroad.”
In march, 1862, general Butler took 8,000 of the troops from the island on his attempt to take New Orleans and as soon as task was accomplished, he established his headwaters in that city. From this time Ship Island had a coaling station and became especially important because of a foundry there which required which repaid the ships of the Gulf fleet. Admiral Farragut had a schedule showing how many ships could be accommodated at one time.
Soon after general Butler became established in New Orleans he began to use Ship Island as a prison camp to which he could send people ( men and women) of New Orleans who displeased him. These smaller or private prison camps seemingly did not make month reports to national headwaters, as did the larger camps, and in consequence are not easily traced as to time or place or number of prisoners. However, a few records are extant in the form of letters from prisoners and traditions

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handed down to succeeding generations.
A letter written by one Alexander Walker to President Jefferson Davis, under the date of September 13, 1862, narrated some of the experiences of the prisoners sent to Ship Island by Butler during his reign of terror in New Orleans. Some of the cases enumerated in Walkers letter are as follows:
A Mrs. Phillips of New Orleans, wife of an ex-member of congress and the mother of nine children, sentenced to two years close confinement re portly having smiled when the funeral procession of a Federal soldier was passing her home; a Mr. Sheppard, for having let pass through his hands some Confederate papers; a Dr. Moore sentenced to hard labor with ball and chain for having sent a small quantity of quinine to Confederate soldiers; five prisoners captured at Fort Jackson sentenced to hard labor for 'intending to break their paroles; three captains in the Confederate service who have their paroles but are sent here on no specific charge, but “as suspicious persons who might break their paroles;” a young creole of a prominent family sentenced to an indefinite period for allegedly throwing a pistol in the river after butler had ordered all arms surrendered; a delicate youth from the country sentenced to hard labor with ball and chain for being a “guerrilla”, a term applied to all organized home guards; a judge john W. Andrews sentenced to close confinement and hard labor for something done before Butler captured New Orleans, a Mr. Kelly for permitting a clerk to place a derogatory sign on his store window; some eight or ten prisoners sent over for having publishe4d cards saying they had not signed oaths of allegiance as published by Butler, among these a Mr. Davidson, a young lawyer, who had not recovered from server wound received at Shiloh.
The conditions of the prisoners in this early use of the Islands a prison camp are set forth in Walker's letter:

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“There are about sixty prisoners here, all on whom are closely confined in portable houses and furnished with the host wretched and condemned soldiers rations. Some are kept at hard labor on t he Fort ; several in addition to labor are compelled to wear ball and chain which is never removed ; I am consigned with seven other respectable citizens to a small but fifteen feet by twenty, exposed to sun and rain without permission to leave except for a bath in the sea once a or twice a week.”
Thus a glimpse is given of the early use of Ship Island as a local prison camp before it was made into a general or national camp. In the general camps a detailed monthly were required to be made to national headquarters beginning in 1862. Ship Island is listed a a having become a general camp in 1864 and received its first quota of prisoners in October of that year. Below in given the monthly reports as culled from all the reports until the end of the war. A note at the beginning of these tales states that no distinction is made between soldiers and civilian population of the camp.

Monthly Reports of Prisoners Of War on Ship Island
On hand received Total Transferred Escape Died Sick

1864 Oct. 0 1129 1129 2 0 5 46
1864 Nov. (no report on file)
1864 Dec. 856 315 1181 1 1 70 73
1865 Jan. 1111 143 1254 620 0 9 22
1865 Feb. 624 0 624 0 0 5 13
1865 Mar. 616 0 616 198 0 8 15
1865 Apr. 410 3946 4356 277 54 5 44
1865 May. 4070 6 4056 4065 0 1 0
1865 June. 10 0 10 10 0 0 0

From the above table it would seem that the total confer ate prison roster at Ship Island probably Never exceeded 4500. From the National Archives has been secured a list of the one hundred fifty three prisoners who died on the island. (See appended list.) Legend on the Coast states that of the four men who escaped. in April, 1865, only on succeeded in swimming the twelve miles to land; another tradition had it that a man named Broadus was the on who succeeded.(Victor Desporte)


p. 6 Cain

From the official reports to national headquarters, and from the personal experiences of ex-prisoners the flowing picture of camp life on the island is drawn.

The camp commander at Ship Island wrote Dec. 22, 1864, the following reply to a criticism from Washington: “I have the honor to reply that at the inspection of Surg. T.M. Getty, there was no proper means at hand to provide for the prisoners. They arrived there destitute of tents and none could be furnished on the island. The cooking of the rations, even until shortly, were prepared in the open air, as not a board of lumber, not even for coffins, could for a time be procured at this place. The prisoners must bring their firewood, stick for stick, on their shoulders about three miles and a half, and on pleasant days it is rather beneficial f or them but on bad days it is sometimes difficult to get 10 per cent of them able to perform the necessary labor. Some provision ought to be made to supply the prison camp with fuel. For my own command I have a detail of soldiers chopping firewood on Cat Island, fifteen miles from here, and by the occasional use of light-draft steamer I am able to keep enough wood on had for immediate use. I have the honor to forward a report made by my post surgeon, Dr. John H. Gihon.” (signed) Ernest W. Holmestedt, Colonel, Commanding Post.

The enclosure, mentioned above, reads as follows: “Surgeon T. M. Getty arrived at this post on his tour of inspection a very short time after the arrival of a large number of prisoners of war, who came uh-announced, and for whose reception and proper care no previous provision had been made. We were without houses, tents, blankets, bedding, or any of the necessary means of furnishing a hospital. The men themselves were in a most filthy condition-all regard for cleanliness, either of clothing or person, having been f or a long time entirely neglected. Out of nearly fifteen hundred there were not over 300 who did not report themselves to the surgeon as being afflicted with diseases. The prevalent

p. 7 Cain

complaints were meals, scurvy, smallpox, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and intermittent fevers rheumatism, etc. Many of the men were the refuse of the rebel hospitals, taken from sick beds to garrison forts. Others were lads from eleven to fifteen years of age, and old men from fifty to seventy five.
Many of them were so emaciated and feeble that it was necessary to carry them from the boat to the encampments, and it did not require the judgment of a medical officer to foresee a large amount of mortality***As a general thing they are filthy in their habits and about their persons**** Although their camp is located in a few feet of the beach (one of the finest bathing places in the world), to which they have free access, some of them have not washed, their hands and faces since their arrival, now nearly three months. The cooks and nurses are selected from among their own body and furnished with everything that is afforded our own troops, and if there is any neglect of proper attention to the diet, cooking, and care of sick the fault rests with themselves. At the time of surgeon Getty's inspection the prisoners were without clothing to wash, and on that account no provision for washing was made. Since then the sick have bee provided with beds, blankets, etc.; and women have been employed to keep them clean. Most of the deaths that have taken place were cases of chronic diarrhea and dysentery, pneumonia, consumption n, typhoid, and other fevers. All of these were sick and most of them helpless at the time of their arrival at the post.

(signed) John H Gihon, Asst. Surg. 74th U.S. Colored Infty., Act. Post Surgeon, The charge by the surgeon that “Some have not washed their faces of hands since their arrival” is easily understandable in the light of some camp practices not mentioned in the reports but told many times by the former prisoners on the island. The camp had no latrines and he men used the sandy beaches in order for the tides when they came in to

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wash away the discharges. There were so many cases of diarrhea and dysentery, called by the men “bloody flux” that the beaches before the tide came were one long bloody streak. Is it any wonder the men refused to “ wash their faces and hands”?
The “lads from eleven to fifteen years of age and the men from fifty to seventy five” had been collected and brought to the island by the dragnet all over South Mississippi in the “scorched earth” plan to starve the “rebels” into submission. All work stock was carried away, cattle were either carried away or slaughtered and left for the buzzards: any boy large enough to plow was considered a food producer to the island and the men too old for military service or deferred for occupational reasons, shared the same fatherly effectiveness of this plan became evident in May, 1865, when letter from the citizens on the coast told of the destitute condition of the populace. The Confederates had made desperate efforts to relieve this starvation. In his HISTORY OF HARRISON COUNTY. Mr. Lang tells how he as a lad of a boy had gone with his mother in a wagon to Biloxi River in order to receive some of the corn which had been shipped from Enterprise down the Chickasaw Bay and Pascagoula Rivers to the mouth of Bluff Creek, up Bluff Creek to Vancleave, hauled in wagons across to the head of Fort bayou, down the stream to Back bay and then up the Biloxi River to be distributed to those in dire need. That this was done more than once is evidenced by the fact that A. B. Holland a Confederate soldier who helped in this hauling of the corn at Vancleave, said there was a plan at one time to cut a canal across from Bluff Creek to Fort Bayou in order to facilitate this transfer.
It was in January, 1865, before any clothing was issued to the prisoners. They had evidently used the clothes in which they were captured until this time. On January 7, five hundred sets of clothing were brought

Page 9 Cain

from New Orleans but by February 9, an order was received from Washington saying that these clothes could not be issued to the prisoners because of an agreement between the U.S. And the rebel government that each was to furnish its own supplies.
On March 1, 1865, the following report was made concerning the condition of the prisoners: “Conduct-good.
Cleanliness-good.
Clothing-good considering the cold weather abated.
Bedding-Straw.
State of quarters – tents rotten.
State of mess House- none,
State of kitchen-good.
quality of -good*.
Food quantity of-plenty.
Water-good .
Sinks-good.
Police of ground-good.
General health of prisoners-good. **
The tents now occupied by the prisoners are so rotten that a norther tears them down by the dozen.” in this same month of March, another report ends with the statement: “ If the prisoners are to be kept here, barracks must be erected because tents rot so fast the prisoners will have no place to stay except on the bare sands of the beach.”
Going back to a report made December 19, 1864, the commanding office sends to headwaters the following: “I have the honor to report the shooting of Private J. C. Dunclin of Lockharts battalion of Prisoners of War at this post, by a sentine, Private George Rice, Co. K, 74th U.S. Colored troops, on the 15th of December, 1864. A thorough and complete investigation has been made . The Cooks for the prisoners of war have repeatedly complained about being unable to attend to their duties if not protected from the annoyance of other prisoners of war who crowded around the cook-houses in violation of existing orders On Dec. 15th Private J. C. Dunclin persisted in cooking some victuals for himself in spite of repeated warnings. A corporal was called. The annoyance ceased for a time, but Private J.C. Dunclin obstinately refused to obey when Private george rice raised his gun and shot him dead. I attach no blame. The shooting has had a good effect on the surviving undisciplined crew.”

*not sure what this refers to word is missing
** this paragraph was made into a list for clarity


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Of all the wrong and humiliations suffered by these prisoners on Ship Island this shooting of a lad of a boy for trying to retrieve a potato he had roasting in the ashes, was resented most and a solemn covenant was made among those who witnessed the shooting to deal out retribution if the opportunity ever presented itself. The opportunity came not too many years after the “surrender”. At a steamboat landing up the Alabama River, an ex-prisoner from Ship Island and one of those who had vowed retribution, saw this trigger-happy colored ex-soldier from Ship island landing from a steamboat. A plan was formed quickly to give him a shroudless, coffinless burial such as that to which he had sent the hungry lad to on the island. He was securely bound to a large rock and without benefit of clergy was rolled from a high bluff into the Alabama River.
In may,1865, all prisoners of war wire sent to Vicksburg and paroled or exchanged from there. As these men walked back home they had ample opportunity to see what they might expect when they arrived- horses gone, stock killed, barns burned, and desolation everywhere.
The lists of those who died on ship Island, which follows, and the cause of these deaths, need very little explanation for the pointing out of indications as shown. The fact that 105 of the 153 deaths were caused by diarrhea and dysentery points to the causative factors of unsanitary food and water. This is not surprising since the water supply came from surface springs and the lacking of housing facilities caused food to spoil. The other leading causes of death were consumption and pneumonia. If not caused by exposure certainly aggravated by the lack of tents and clothing.


S.H.A.P.E. NOTE:

Pvt. J. C. Dunclin Co. K, 62nd Alabama Infantry, (1st Alabama Reserves) has only one compiled Service Record filed under this name. His other cards are filed under Joseph Dunklin, From a card dated June 20 to August 31, 1864 - Pvt. Dunklin entered service at Selma, Alabama, June 20, 1864 he was enlisted by Capt. ????? for the war, and never paid. He was captured at Fort Gaines, Alabama, August 7, 1864. His age is shown as 17. card 3 shows he was first sent to New Orleans, then to Ship island where he died Dec. 15, 1864. Card 4 shows he arrived at Ship Island October 25, 1864.card 5 list his grave number as 91 and states he was shot by a sentinel, card 8 shows him as J. A. Dusklin, he is admitted to St. Louis General Hospital, at New Orleans, La. August 21. 1864. His condition is listed as “fever intermittent.” Returned to duty, August 30, 1864
Looking at the Alabama census for the year of 1860, taken in June, the only person we can find who closely matches Jos Dunklin would be found in Perry Co. Alabama. He is the son of J. H. and Syntha Dunklin, listed at age 13.

Sixty-Second Alabama
Infantry Regiment


Lockhart's Battalion, the nucleus of this regiment, was organized at Selma, in January 1864, and was on duty in the State till July, when it moved up to Cheha, and lost severely in the fight there with Rousseau. A few days after, it was organized as the Sixty-second Alabama regiment, at Mobile. Stationed at Fort Gaines, the regiment was in the bombardment of that place, losing several killed and wounded, and the remainder captured. The prisoners were taken to New Orleans and Ship Island, and subjected to brutal treatment at the hands of the enemy. Exchanged in Mobile Bay, Jan. 4, 1865. Placed in garrison at Spanish Fort, as part of Thomas' brigade (with the Sixty-third Alabama), the regiment withstood the siege there for six days, with some loss, and was then relieved by Holtzclaw's brigade. It served through the siege and bombardment of Blakeley, losing a number killed and wounded, and was captured in the assault on the works. Taken to Ship Island, the men were exchanged in time to be surrendered with the department. The regiment was composed wholly of young men, and was complimented in special orders by Gen. Lidell for its conduct at Spanish Fort.
Source: http://www.archives.state.al.us/referenc/alamilor/62ndinf.html

From the files of Pvt. George Rice, 74th USCT, free colored, enlisted Oct. 12, 1862 at New Orleans, La. For a period of 3 years. Age 27. He appears present on all cards, one remark being sick in hospital. Card 17 has remarks that he was free on or before April 19, 1861. he is paid $7.00 per month to April of 1864. Card 21 shows he was mustered out Oct., 11, 1865. he was last paid June 30, 1865, amount due him was $43.24. he is also show as due $100.00 bounty. Final muster out date Nov. 14, 1865.






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