Prisoner Exchange at Northeast Cape Fear River, 1865
On February 26, 1865, ten miles northeast of downtown Wilmington, Union and Confederate forces began negotiations that saw a total of 8,684 Union soldiers (including 992 commissioned officers and 120 African American troops) exchanged for an unknown number of Confederate prisoners of war. Many of the Union troops had been prisoners at Salisbury Prison.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant informed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that an agreement regarding prisoners held by the warring armies was at hand. The negotiated agreement was completed on February 16 and word relayed to field officers and prison commandants.
Wilmington fell to Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield on February 22, and the following day he sent word to his Confederate counterpart, Gen. Robert F. Hoke that he was prepared to receive prisoners of war “at the crossing of the Northeast Cape Fear River, on the main road from Wilmington to Goldsborough.”
Schofield assigned Brevet Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Abbott as his special agent of exchange. Abbott reported that the exchange of troops at that site commenced on Sunday, February 26, and took seven days.
Other related resources:
- The Civil War on NCpedia
- The North Civil War Experience from N.C. Historic Sites
- North Carolina and the Civil War from the N.C. Museum of History
- The North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee
- North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground from N.C. Historical Publications
- Under Both Flags: The Civil War in the Albermarle, an online exhibit from the Museum of the Albemarle
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