05 March 2014

John E. Carr - The death of a confederate soldier

While working on my genealogy research I came across an ancestor that was in my Legacy database but not found in FamilySearch. Long ago when I started using Legacy I entered in a family tree from the Carr family. The tree included some pictures and other data but I was new to the game and I blindly entered the information. I now know that this is not something I should have done but over time I have been able to tell the difference between the sourced material and the random family information I had blindly added to my tree.

John E. Carr was born in Pike County, Alabama in 1845, the oldest of six children, born to Richard and Mary Carr. John is enumerated in both the 1850 (age 5) United States Federal Census
Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place:  , Pike, Alabama; Roll: M432_13; Page: 250A; Image: 506.
and 1860 (age 14) United States Federal Census. (There are actually 3 Carr household on this census page.)
Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Eastern Division, Pike, Alabama; Roll: M653_21; Page: 379; Image: 379; Family History Library Film: 803021.

On 20 Aug 1863 John enlisted as a Private in Company A of the Alabama Infantry, 57th Regiment. (I know this enlistment form says 54th and 57th but later documents show just the 57th.)

Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DVR : accessed 06 Mar 2014), John E Carr, 1863

John's father Richard followed and enlisted 1 December 1863 also as a Private in Company A of the Alabama Infantry, 57th Regiment.
"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DPN : accessed 06 Mar 2014), Richard Carr, 1864

In January of 1864 the Alabama 57th joined with the Army of Tennessee on its way to Atlanta. Casualties were minimal until the Battle of Peach Creek on 20 July 1864 in which almost 4,700 Confederate soldiers were killed. This was the first loss in the battle that led to the burning and fall of Atlanta 1 September 1864.

On 16 November 1864  General Sherman's Army of Georgia begins the "March to the Sea". At the time the Army of Tennessee had moved to Franklin Tennessee. On 30 November 1864 the Army of Tennessee is confronted by Union troops near Spring Hill, Tennessee. A massive frontal assault on the well entrenched Confederate line meets with disaster. The toll for Confederate forces is heavy including the loss of six of its generals. Union troops retreat in the direction of Nashville.

Flag of the 57th Alabama Infantry Co. A.

On 15 December 1864, Union Major General George H.Thomas defeats Confederate Lieut. General John Bell Hood at Nashville in a complete victory that finally eliminates the Army of the Tennessee as a fighting force. This is where both John E. Carr and his father Richard R. Carr are captured as Prisoners of War.The father and son are then sent to separate prison camps.

On 16 January 1865 Richard R. Carr is transferred to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. He dies of Pneumonia 8 Feb 1865.

"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DPN : accessed 06 Mar 2014), Richard Carr, 1864
John E. Carr meets a similar but drawn out fate. On 20 Dec 1865 he is quickly moved after his capture to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois.



Much has been written and documented about Camp Douglas.


The above History Channel movie describes the camp as "80 Acres of Hell". There were few prison camps in the Civil War with worse living conditions than Camp Douglas. Punishments and torture were commonplace. As were prisoners being shot on sight for various offenses. Disease and illness were rampant throughout the camp causing the deaths of thousands of confederate prisoners. Newspaper accounts of how the prisoner's lived and died could not begin to describe the horrible conditions.

Based on the City Sexton's records up to 3,871 Confederate Prisoners of War were buried within Potter's field in the Chicago City Cemetery during the three years Camp Douglas was open. John E. Carr died of Pneumonia 18 March 1865, just three short months after his capture. As you can see in the below document he was buried in grave number 985, block 3 of the Chicago City Cemetery.

"Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXKD-DVR : accessed 06 Mar 2014), John E Carr, 1863

Sadly, that is not the end of the story for John E. Carr. On 21 October 1864, just before General Sherman began his March to the Sea, The Common Council of the City of Chicago passed an ordinance establishing a public park on the North end of the Chicago City Cemetery. They also declared, "That hereafter, nobody shall be buried in the Chicago Cemetery, except in the Lots, which have been sold by the City." On 15 Feb 1865, a month before John's death, the City of Chicago and the Rosehill Cemetery Company entered into an agreement to set apart the appropriate ground for the park.

On 17 Dec 1866, nine months after John's burial, the Common Council of the City of Chicago sends a letter to Chief Quartermaster stating they, "were appointed, by said council, to confer with you, and through you, with the War department of the government, in relation to the removal of the bodies of prisoners interred in our City Cemetery, during the Rebellion."

The bodies of most of the Confederate soldiers buried in Potter's Field in the Chicago City Cemetery were then disinterred over the next 20 years. The building of a parking lot in 1998 uncovered another 181 bodies from the field.


This monument in the nearby Oakwoods Cemetery reads;
"The Confederate dead here buried in concentric trenches were all private soldiers. The monument to their memory is of Georgia granite, stands forty feet from the ground to the top of statue and was erected in July, 1893, with funds mainly subscribed by liberal citizens of Chicago and Camps of the United Confederate Veterans. The bronze panels of the pedestal die represent: On the east face, - THE CALL TO ARMS; On the west face, - A VETERANS RETURN HOME; And on the south face, - A SOLDIER’S DEATH DREAM. The bronze statue surmounting the battlemented cap of the column is a realistic representation of a Confederate Infantry soldier after the surrender. The face expresses sorrow for the thousands of prison dead interred beneath. The cannon shot and shell ornamenting this Government lot, in which both Union and Confederate dead are buried, were furnished by the War Department under authority of an Act of Congress approved January 25th, 1895."


A tablet on the memorial lists John E. Carr's name.


Mary Polly Carr lost both her husband and son in the Civil War. She continued to live in Alabama for 20 more years until she moved to Bosque County, Texas with her son Joseph Madison Carr.