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Civil War Richmond Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I.          I can’t find any lists of prisoners/patients from ___ Hospital/Prison! Why don’t you have them on your site?

This website, Civil War Richmond, is designed to detail sites and events in Richmond during the Civil War. It is NOT a genealogical website in purpose. My site will tell you about the hospital or prison your ancestor was in, not whether he was there or not. As a genealogist, that is your job. There are thousands of surnames on my website which research will reveal. However, it is outside my interest to transcribe lists of names from Archives records. This would be an admirable project (and a necessary one) for a team of transcriptionists to undertake. However, I have no such team, and no plans are in the works to form one in the immediate future.

To combat this problem, I have included citations to records that exist in the National Archives where applicable (in the case of hospitals, at the bottom of each page). This enables someone who wants to do more research on a particular name to have ready access to a soldier's records. This will still necessitate a visit to, or correspondence with, the National Archives.

However, any research into a patient's or prisoner's stay in Richmond should begin (and will sometimes end) with that soldiers individual service records, which can be had from the National Archives. This will tell you which hospital or prison(*) the soldier was in, and will give you dates of stay and disease, if applicable. The service records themselves are not generally historical documents - they are of the War Department's' creation (who had possession of military records until the creation of the National Archives during the Great Depression). In other words, clerks in the War Department were detailed to methodically plow through hospital registries and other records, indexing each name on slips of paper. These slips were then placed in folders, and are now referred to as "compiled military service records" (or CMSRs). These will tell you most everything you want to know regarding that soldiers' service, including where he enlisted, which hospital he was placed in, etc, etc.

The only exception to this rule is when records do not exist in the National Archives (such as if a Confederate was placed in a private hospital, like Bellevue, Samaritan, etc). In almost all cases, you will need to look at newspaper lists yourself to see if they were there – which citations will be found on my site, sans names.

In short, there will always be a need for physical archives, because any digitization effort (such as mine) is necessarily limited in scope. Any "lists of prisoners/patients" will be found in those archives, and generally not on my site.

* note - almost ALL Union prisoners' service records who came through Richmond will indicate that the prisoner was confined in "Libby Prison," though this is not the case. Libby was used as a depot - that is to say, every single prisoner, regardless of rank (officer or enlisted) came through there, had his name listed, but only the officers stayed there. Enlisted men were taken to another prison (Belle Isle, Crew & Pemberton's, General Hospital #21, etc), but, because records do not survive from these prisons, you will be led to believe that the whole of their captivity was spent in Libby Prison. This is simply not so. Your search will have to end, unfortunately, with the knowledge that they were a POW in Richmond. 90% of the time, this means that they were confined at Belle Isle. See if my site has any lists from there.

II.        Do you have any information about Private John Doe, of the 199th Rhode Island?

Any and all files I maintain have been uploaded to the web site. This means that if you did not find the name of the soldier or citizen you are interested in, the answer is no. However, in a number of cases, you will notice that I did not bother to type out the names in a newspaper casualty list. If you know, for instance, that your ancestor was taken prisoner at Savage's Station on June 29, 1862, you may see that I did not type out a list of prisoners that I found, preferring only to note where they went. If you want to check out the list, the citation is there – simply go find the microfilm reel and read the list.

If the person in question is a well-known personage (such as Lincoln, Davis, Lee, etc) or an office-holder, that information is available elsewhere, and not included on this site.

III.       I am reading the book The DaVinci Code and am looking for an enigmatic sculpture which stands one degree North of 37 degrees 57 minutes 65 seconds north and 77 degrees 8 minutes 44 seconds west. Help me!

Surely. Stop wasting your time reading faddish fiction. Problem solved. (That advice comes with a surcharge of $00.00, and will infinitely enrich your life)

But, if that didn’t do it for you, join the military and concentrate on map reading. Or better yet, join the CIA [hint].

A.        I’d really like for you to tell me the answer.

Sigh...(hey, you’re the one asking a Civil War historian about modern fiction).

OK, you will notice that “one degree north” puts the location substantially further north of Richmond. Further, there can only be 60 minutes, not 65. After you look closely you will see a decimal point between the 6 and the 5. So the location you are looking for is at 38°, 57’, 6.5” north latitude; and 77°, 8’, 44” west longitude.

This is the location of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The statue you’re looking for is called Kryptos, and it stands in the courtyard. It’s weird, being a piece of metal with letters on it, in code – the workers there spend their time trying to decode the thing, but supposedly nobody ever has. I’m sure you can find more info on that statue online, but I am not inclined to spend any more time on this matter, so at this point you are on your own.