My name is Steve Moore, I am a member of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table in Dedham, Massachusetts. I am writing to you, hoping that you will help support our project.
The Olde Colony Civil War Round Table (OCCWRT) of Dedham, Massachusetts is starting their biggest Civil War preservation project yet. The OCCWRT has teamed up with the Massachusetts Archives to conserve and digitize Civil War era letters from the Governor’s office. One of the books we are conserving contains correspondence between the Governor’s office and Fort Warren, a POW prison located on George’s Island in Boston Harbor.
During the Civil War, the fort was used to accommodate the growing number of Confederate political and military prisoners (soldiers and sailors) captured during the war. Prisoners began arriving in October 1861, barely 6 months after the fort was first occupied by Union troops. More than 2,200 prisoners were incarcerated at Fort Warren at some time during the conflict. Only 13 prisoners died of disease, and it was considered a relatively humane facility for the Confederate prisoners.
Some notable prisoners held at Fort Warren, Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Hamilton Stephens. Stephens was captured in May 1865 and released in October 1865,Confederate diplomatic envoys James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate Postmaster General, John Regan, General Richard Ewell, General Isaac R. Trimble, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, General Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson, and General Lloyd Tilghman. Only 13 prisoners died of disease, and it was considered a relatively humane facility for the Confederate prisoners. Some officers were even allowed to have alcohol and the freedom to move about the fort during daylight hours.
In 2002, the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table had taken up the cause for the disinterment of Confederate Navy 1st Assistant Engineer Edward J. Johnson of the C.S.S. Atlanta, remains and removal of the gravestone, and be brought home to Georgia. Lt. Edward J. Johnson, a Confederate prisoner of war who died in Massachusetts requesting only that he be buried with his head facing the South may go home to Georgia if members of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table (OCCWRT)have any say in the matter.
(The Civil War News Bulletin: Feb/Mar 2002),(http://sites.google.com/site/oldecolonycwrt/Home/confederate-sailor-1). Johnston was taken prisoner after the capture of C.S.S. Atlanta and was held for a time at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor. He was eventually transferred to Fort Warren on George’s Island in Boston Harbor, where he died on October 14, 1863 at the age of 36 years 9 months. On Saturday, October 26, 2002, at 11 AM, a Confederate military funeral took place in Fernandina, FL.
According to historian, Jay Schmidt, author of “Fort Warren: New England’s Most Historical Civil War Site,” most of the records from Fort Warren have been destroyed. This increases the value of these documents to researchers. If funding permitts, the OCCWRT will also be conserving a second book containing the important and heavily used intial correspondaence between Governor Andrew and Washington, D.C. at the start of the Civil War.
The conservation work will be performed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The conservation process includes removing glue from the documents, cleaning the documents, repairing tears, flattening the documents, and placing them in an acid free storage box. After the pages have been digitized, the Archives will post them on their website to be used as a new important Civil War research resource.
To support this project, the OCCWRT has started a fundraiser entitled, “Conserving a Page of Massachusetts History”. For donations of $30.00 or more, a certificate suitable for framing recognizing the donation will be mailed out. This custom printed certificate will make an excellent gift. Please include the name you want on the certificate with the donation. The Archives has also supplied us with some copies of the documents that will be conserved. Either a copy of a letter from the Ft. Warren book dated November 4, 1861 to the Governor asking for more troops to guard the prisoners or a copy of a telegram from Winfield Scott will be included with the certificate.
The OCCWRT is a 501 (C) 3 organization. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist us in this important project, please send a check payable to the OCCWRT to Dana Zaiser, 4 Myras Way, Norton, MA 02766. For more information, visit our website at www.occwrt.org or call Dana at 508-286-0060.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.