Southern Roots

Family history research in the Southern States.

Civil War Prisoner of War Records

I made an interesting find at Ancestry last week: Civil War Prisoner of War Records. I found the record of Robert C. Purdy of Caldwell Co., Kentucky. The collection includes digital images of the records. The record indicates that R.C. Purdy was captured in Caldwell Co., Kentucky in January 1864. He was listed as a deserter from the Confederate Army. He was released on oath in April 1864.

Desertion was a big problem for the military during the Civil War. The long, bloody war was hard on both the soldiers and their families. It made me think of what the conditions were like that may have prompted Robert to leave his unit.

The compiled service record of Perry G. Baker, a Civil War soldier from Tennessee, states in 1863 that he was missing since the fall of Ft. Henry in 1862. He passed away in 1900, so he wasn’t killed in the battle. Was he wounded, captured or did he slip away and rejoin his family?

I have other Civil War ancestors who were POWs. I’m planning on taking some more time with this database to see if I can learn more about them.


May 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Robert Cobb Purdy (1838-1917) is one of my 3rd great-grandfathers.
    He enlisted in Co. C,”The Beauregards”, 3rd KY. Infantry C.S.A. in July, 1861 at Camp Boone, Montgomery Co, Tenn.
    He served in the 3rd KY. until his capture at home in Caldwell Co, KY. on April 1, 1864.
    His regiment was under the command of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest at that time, and Forrest gave his Kentucky regiments a furlough to return home following the Battle of Paducah, KY. on March 25-26, 1864.
    So, despite the Union records, R.C. Purdy may not have been a “deserter” from the C.S. Army. Most of his company was captured by occupying Union troops while at home in Caldwell County in April, 1864.
    He applied for a pension for his C.S.A. service in 1912 from Ky. and stated he’d served out his three-year enlistment by the time of his capture in April 1864.

    Comment by Z. Cummins | June 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thank you for the update on Robert C. Purdy. I love to hear the story behind the records. I did notice while looking at the record that a number of men were captured in Caldwell Co. and it certainly looks like the Union forces went through and just rounded everyone up.

    Comment by vycurry | June 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, R.C. and some of his comrades from Co. “C” stated in their pension applications that they were captured by the Union troops garrisoned in and around Princeton, Caldwell Co. when they returned home about the 1st of April, 1864. They were probably reported to Union troops by local Unionists, etc.
      These C.S.A. pension applications can be seen at the Caldwell Co courthouse.
      When the men of that company failed to return to the 3rd KY. for duty they were perhaps erroneously described as “AWOL with horse and gun”.
      According to a local historian of the period, most of Co. “C” fell into this category.

      Comment by Z. Cummins | June 4, 2011 | Reply

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