Friday, September 20, 2013

Remembering POWs — Civil War prisons, part 3

Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day. The last post mentioned Kathy Reichs and her work with the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command. JPAC continues to look for and identify missing Americans, "Until They Are Home."

DOPL members
During a visit to Point Lookout, Maryland last summer, I realized for the first time that I'm the descendant of a POW. My great-great grandfather Thomas Maness was captured and incarcerated at Camp Hoffman, better known as Point Lookout Prison Camp.

The Descendants of Point Lookout POW Organization (DOPL) held a service at their Confederate Memorial Park. Curious, I drove down again on Saturday to attend.

A lively round of "Dixie"














I enjoyed the people in period costume, the cannon salute, and the small camp set up outside the memorial.

I did not enjoy the guest speaker, who hailed from my own state. His railing and inaccuracies were upsetting; his is that rare voice that has made southern history so unpopular.

With polite applause, the other attendees (many of whom probably work at the nearby military base and realize the Civil War is over) seemed to be sincere history buffs who want to pay respects to their ancestors. I gave Thomas's name to one man, Steve, who promised to look him up.


Pt. Lookout prison camp descendants

I was pleased to get an e-mail from him the next morning, with images of Thomas S. Maness' records.

Thomas deserted to the Union side, which didn't surprise me. He was kept a prisoner for nearly a year, despite his apparent willingness to take the oath of allegiance.

I was surprised to learn that he was only at Point Lookout a short time, about a month.




Camp kitchen



Under severely overcrowded conditions at Point Lookout, Thomas was among a large group of prisoners transferred to another prison camp in July 1864 — Elmira, N.Y.




Next: Journey to Elmira



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