Alcatrez and Confederate prisoners during Civil War : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

My friend is doing research of Confederate Army and Civil War. She read that Confederate soldiers were held prisoner within Alcatrez. We would be interested in whatever information is available. If you need physical address please send to Nancy Bixler PO Box 707 Seneca MO 64865 Thx

-- Nancy Bixler (, April 21, 2001


No Confederate "soldiers" were ever incarcerated on Alcatraz. Instead, numerous suspected pro-Secessionists were sent to the Island and confined in the guardhouse there along with the Army's soldier- prisoners. These included almost anyone who made anti-Union remarks or gave incendiary speeches, and at one point the Army even locked up the chairman of the State Democratic Committee for giving an anti-war speech.

In March 1863, the U. S. Navy seized the sloop CHAPMAN on San Francisco Bay and found it loaded with men and arms. The crew were all pro-Secessionists Southerners and their leader, Asbury Harpending, had a letter of marque signed by Jefferson Davis authorizing him to act as a privateer. They were confined on Alcatraz for awhile, and the leaders later tried and convicted of treason and sentenced to death. (Lincoln eventualy pardoned them.)

Although not really CNS sailors, the CHAPMAN's crew were probably the closest to Confederate military personnel ever sent to Alcatraz.

A highly dramatized account of the CHAPMAN episode can be found in the book "The Great Diamond Hoax and Other Stirring Episodes in the Life of Asbury Harpending" by (who else?) Asbury Harpending. (San Francisco: John H. Barry, Co. 1912)

-- John Martini (, April 21, 2001.

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