Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library
Welcome to the new Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library site. As with any site, that grows, some changes are made in the design. I've chosen to adopt a frames design for this site to make navigation and maintenance easier. Each of the articles and documents are viewable to clicking on the folders to the left. Let me know what you think.
From the Webmaster
Hello. My name is Brian Scott, and I want to welcome you to the Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library. What began as a search for ancestry over 20 years ago, turned into a quest to uncover information about one of the infamous prisons of the Civil War. For many years, the region surrounding Elmira had been known for several facts: Elmira was the home of Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) in-laws; the last regular stop on the Underground Railroad before entering Canada; and the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe's brother, the Rev. Thomas Beecher, an outspoken abolitionists. Within the past twenty years, research about the infamous prison at Elmira has sprung up. Several new books have been written in the past few years about the prison, and with the advent of the Internet, there is a renewed interest in connection with one’s past.
About the Library
On the left side of each page will appear an index of the entire site, allowing you to move from section to section without having to return to the homepage. (There will also be links that appear across the top and bottom for main sections.)
Also available is the search engine on the left. You can use this feature to search for items and names within the Library. To search for an ancestor's name, simply type it in the field. If he is listed in the Library, all pages with his name will be shown.
The library is divided into sections:
New information is added nearly every month. And submissions are highly encouraged and more than welcome.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library is simple: It exists to provide the most comprehensive and complete picture of the camp as possible. (The current size of the Library is over 8.0 MB and more than 300 printed pages.) For that reason, you will find both Union and Confederate documents here. From my own experience and from the stories of others who have written me, information on Elmira can be scarce and hard to find. Therefore, in this Library, you will find original documents dealing with the prison. Letters, diaries, books, journals, photographs, drawings, and other material will all be included here. Short biographies, where provided by descendents, are also being accepted. In fact, readers submitted about 90 percent of the information that is located in the library. I have had many e-mails writing me asking why their ancestor is not included. The answer is simple: submit him and he will be here. For information on donating resources or for questions on the Elmira prison, drop me a line.
For all those of you who have submitted information, written to express support, or asked questions, I want to tell you that I greatly appreciate you. I had no idea how many people would be interested in the prison or that the response would be this great. To date, there are over 200 biographies in the index and more are arriving each week. There seems to be no limit to the hunger for knowledge about our ancestors and facts are always welcome...no matter how large or small.
New Elmira Book
For many years, the key reference for Elmira was a book written by Clay Holmes in 1908. Now, after almost a century, a new book about the Elmira Prison Camp is being released: Death Camp of the North: The Elmira Civil War Prison Camp. Written by Michael Horigan, it will be released on March 1, 2002, and is published by Stackpole Books. Be sure to check out the information on the Links page about the new Elmira Prison book coming out in March 2002!! Or use the links on the left to Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble to order it. Information about the book is below.
The Civil War prison camp at Elmira, New York, had the highest death rate of any prison camp in the North: almost 25 percent. Comparatively, the overall death rate of all Northern prison camps was just over 11 percent; in the South, the death rate was just over 15 percent. Clearly, something went wrong in Elmira. The culmination of ten years of research, this book traces the story of what happened. Author Michael Horigan also places the prison in the context of the greater Elmira community by describing the town in 1864 and explaining its significance as a military depot and draft rendezvous.
About the Author
Michael Horigan taught and lectured in American History for more than twenty years. Recognized locally as an expert on the Elmira Civil War prison camp, his views were included in a 1993 Public Television documentary on the subject entitled Helmira: 1864-1865. This is his first book.