Now What: Civil War POWs
2/18/2011
My ancestor got involved in the US Civil War even though he was from Nova Scotia, Canada. As a ship's captain, he ran the Union blockade and was captured and died in a Yankee POW camp. How can I find his POW record?
Q. My ancestor got involved in the US Civil War even though he was from Nova Scotia, Canada. As a ship's captain, he ran the Union blockade and was captured and died in a Yankee POW camp. How can I find his POW record?

A. Because he died while incarcerated, your ancestor should be in National Archives microfilm M918: Register of Confederate Soldiers, Sailors and Citizens Who Died in Federal Prisons and Military Hospitals in the North, 1861–1865 (one roll), available through the Family History Library. If not, you'll have to turn to the much larger (145 rolls) Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865, which is National Archives microfilm M598.

Both of these record sets are part of subscription site Ancestry.com's collection Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861–1865. Search this database by first and middle name, last name, side (Confederate or Union), film roll number or title, or keyword. Try the full title for roll M918 and check Exact to limit your search. If searching the name alone doesn't help, use keywords such as Capt. or Citizen (because your ancestor wasn't in the Confederate Navy), or Canada and uncheck the Exact restriction.