Intro Picture

Diary of Henry H. Ladd

Prisoner of War at Belle Isle, VA and Salisbury, NC

Photograph © Copyright
Dearborn Historical Museum

Henry Harrison Ladd enlisted in company D, 24th Michigan on August 7, 1862. He mustered into service on August 13, 1862. at Dearborn, MI.  He was wounded in action at Gettysburg, PA, perhaps not seriously.  He was assigned to hospital duty until April 1864.  After returning to the Regiment, Henry was appointed a mounted orderly for General Wadsworth until the latter was critically wounded at the Wilderness on May 6, 1864.  He also served as an orderly for the division Surgeon-in-Chief Chamberlain and General Cutler until August 1864.  He was captured at the battle for the Weldon Railroad, August 19, 1864.  For a time he was held at Belle Isle in Richmond Virginia.  He was later moved to the camp at Salisbury, North Carolina, where he was held for 5 months.  He was finally paroled in February, 1865.   He  mustered out in Detroit,  on June 16th, 1865.   He married Annie Edwards on 18 Aug 1862. They had four children.

Henry Ladd is known to have attended the Dedication of the 24th Michigan's Monument at "Michigan Day at Gettysburg", June 12th-14th, 1889.  He died September 19, 1910 in Dearborn, Wayne Co, MI.


Daniel Ladd
Nathaniel Ladd
Nathaniel Ladd
Elias Ladd
Dr John Ladd
Josiah Ladd
Loram Ladd
Friday. August 19, 1864 I am a prisoner; marched to Petersburg and lodged in gaol.  
Saturday August 20, 1864 Start for Richmond. Escorted to a tobacco warehouse near Libby Prison.
Sunday, August 21, 1864 Feel rather rough after sleeping on the hard floor with wet clothes on. Move into Libby Prison. All are searched for the third time. Marched to Belle Isle.

Belle Isle Confederate Prison

Belle Isle is located west of Richmond, Virginia in the James River. During the Civil War, this small and beautiful island was used as a Civil War Prison. Holding only a few small shacks, the island afforded no protection from the elements to the Union soldiers who were captured and taken there. Prisoners were given tents to sleep in but the tents numbered 3000, while the soldiers held there, numbered almost 10,000 by 1863. A hospital for prisoners and an iron factory were located on the island, but no barracks were ever built for the prisoners, hence the continuous exposure to weather played a large role in the death toll on Belle Isle.

"Stormy and disagreeable weather. From fifteen to twenty and twenty-five die every day and are buried just outside the prison with no coffins- nothing but canvas wrapped around them." So wrote captured Union soldier John Ransom in his November 27, 1863, diary entry from Belle Island Prison. On February 11, 1864, the 20-year-old brigade quartermaster wrote that there was "a good deal of fighting going on among the men;" they were "just like so many hungry wolves penned together." Bands of predatory prisoners roamed the encampment, robbing their fellow prisoners of rations, blankets, and anything else they wanted. The commandant admitted that he could do nothing to stop the gangsters, as he had only enough men to try to prevent escapes.

Beautiful Belle Isle, in the James River at Richmond, became a Confederate prison after 1st Bull Run, confining Union noncommissioned officers and enlisted men. No barracks were erected; Belle Isle and the Union prison at Point Lookout, MD, were the only major Civil War prisons that were made up of clusters of tents. Although Belle Isle Prison was intended to hold only 3,000 men, with tents provided to house that many, its population swelled to double that number and more. The island's location in the rapids of the James River made escape very perilous. Many of the men who tried it drowned before reaching safety.

Monday, August 22, 1864 Slept on the ground without a rag under or over me. No tents on the island. Had one meal to-day, half a cup of bean soup and corn bead. Rained all the afternoon and night. No tents nor blankets.
Tuesday, August 23, 1864

A cool morning. Spend my time reading my testament. Had two meals. Lay on ground.

Wednesday, August 24, 1864 A hot day. Don't feel well.
Thursday, August 25, 1864 Up and ready for my corn dodger. Wish I was home to have a good meal. There are 4,500 prisoners on about two and one-half acres here. Bought a loaf of bread for $1.50.
Friday, August 26, 1864 Lay on the wet ground. Paid twelve shillings for a piece of bread for breakfast. Got no rations till night. Shall attend prayer-meeting to-night.
Saturday, August 27, 1864 Rained last night. No breakfast. One of our boys was shot last night by the guard. Bought two loaves of bread for two dollars.
Sunday, August 28, 1864 Dreamed of home last night. How I wish that it was so. I would attend church in old Dearborn. Had a cup of bean soup and one-quarter pound corn dodger to-day.
Monday, August 29, 1864 Rained last night. Cool this morning. Have all been counted. Two thousand more prisoners arrived to-day.
Tuesday, August 30, 1864 Had a cup of coffee made from grounds. Buy three small biscuits for a dollar. Wish I could hear from home.
Wednesday, August 31, 1864 Cold last night. Bought three loaves of bread for two dollars.
Thursday, September 1, 1864 Our Government refuses to parole us. The men think it hard.
Saturday September 3, 1864 Did not sleep half an hour all night.
Sunday, September 4, 1864 Rained last night. All were counted today. No grub. Paid fifty cents for some bread. Have spent my last shilling. Sold my wallet for three loaves of bread. Had prayer meeting tonight.
Monday, September 5, 1864 Heard good news by the rebel papers that Atlanta is ours. Have a loaf left for breakfast. Rained in the night.
Tuesday, September 6, 1864 All counted again. Sold my canteen for two loaves of bread. Rained again at night.
Wednesday, September 7, 1864 No grub. If I were on the Island of Juan Fernandez, I could have something to eat, but alas, Belle Isle is barren.
Thursday, September 8, 1864 Nearly froze last night. Am hungry but nothing to eat.
Friday, September 9, 1864 Sold my knife for six loaves of bread.
Saturday, September 10, 1864 The day closes with a row and calls for tents.
Sunday, September 11, 1864 Got half a loaf for this day's ration. Have an old bag for a bed.
Monday, September 12, 1864 Did not sleep any last night on account of cold. Nothing to eat. Not well enough to go to prayer meeting.
Tuesday, September 13, 1864 Sold my haversack for two loaves and ate them for breakfast. Had a good prayer meeting with large attendance.
Wednesday, September 14, 1864 Dreamed of home. Hear heavy cannonading. All called out.
Thursday, September 15, 1864 Sick with fever. Sold my ring for a loaf of bread.
Friday, September 16, 1864 Fever all night. Wrote home.
Saturday, September 17, 1864  Ration of bread for breakfast.
Sunday, September 18, 1864 Headache and fever all night.
Thursday, September 22, 1864 Rained through the night. Have a bad cold.
Friday, September 23, 1864 A wet day.
Saturday, September 24, 1864 Have a tip-top appetite but nothing to eat.
Sunday, September 25, 1864 How hard to be a prisoner. Wish I was home to dinner.
Monday, September 26, 1864 Slept cold last night. Out to be counted to-day.
Tuesday, September 27, 1864 Nothing to eat till noon. Hear of Early's defeat in the Valley.
Thursday, September 29, 1864 Two of our boys retaken who attempted to escape. Did not get any grub until 3 o'clock; nearly famished.
Friday, September 30, 1864 Over 650 prisoners came from Libby.
Saturday, October 1, 1864 Nothing to eat till noon. Very hungry and cold. Rained all day.
Sunday, October 2, 1864 Slept hard last night; head aches. Am getting thin and poor. Another man shot by the guard last night.
Monday, October 3, 1864 Some tents came today.
Tuesday, October 4, 1864 This is a hard life to live and starve, but hope for better days. 1,000 men went south to North Carolina today from Belle Island.  
Wednesday, October 5, 1864 About 950 men left for Southern prisons to-day.
Thursday, October 6, 1864 Left Belle Island to-day and reached Danville at 5 p.m. Sixty men in one cattle car. Such a crowd and such a time! Sell my ink bottle for bread. Good-bye Belle Isle, may I never see it again. Have ate all of my bread. Still hungry.
Friday, October 7, 1864 No rations. Sell my eye-glass for two apples.

Salisbury Confederate Prison

This is a "Birds Eye View" of the Salisbury Prison Compound.  This painting was made in 1864 and details the entire facility.

The only Confederate Prison that was located in North Carolina was in the town of Salisbury. The prison was established on November 2, 1861. The site consisted of sixteen acres within and contiguous to the town of Salisbury, and contained a principal 3 story cotton factory building, about ninety by fifty feet constructed of red brick; also six brick tenements with four rooms each, and a larger superintendent's house of framed materials, with smith shop and two or three inferior buildings.

A lack of water at Salisbury brought conditions of filth and unbearable stench. The daily ration there for both prisoner and guard was soup and twenty ounces of bread without meat or sorghum. Many internees lacked clothing or shelter and "muggers" among the prisoners robbed their comrades. The disease rate soared. From October 1864 to February 1865, 3,479 prisoners died out of the 10,321 confined there, or over one third of the total.

The real misery for the prisoners at the Salisbury Confederate Prison began in the fall of 1864. The Prison compound designed for 2,500 men was forced to handle four times that many. Due to the Union Naval blockade there was a shortage of medicine and medical supplies which resulted in terrible suffering of the prisoners and needless deaths. Throughout the South there was a shortage of food and the Prison was no exception. Eventually, all the buildings were taken over for hospital use, and the men were forced to seek shelter that cold, wet winter under the buildings, in overcrowded tents, and in burrows dug into the hard red soil.

Due to the large number of men dying daily after October 1864 a mass burial system was initiated. The bodies were collected daily and taken to the “dead house” to be counted and loaded onto a one-horse wagon. At 2:00 PM each day this wagon of the dead would be taken about ¼ mile to an abandoned cornfield where the men were buried. Eighteen trenches of approximately 240 feet each were eventually needed.

Saturday, October 8, 1864 Slept in an open field. Arrived at Salisbury, North Carolina. No rations. Staid all night in an open field. Have not slept for four nights.
Sunday, October 9, 1864 We are in an enclosure of twelve acres. Got two meals to-day. Am shivering with cold.
Monday, October 10, 1864 Got half a loaf of bread for to-day's ration. Am getting very thin in body.
Tuesday, October 11, 1864 Two men died last night of exposure.
Wednesday, October 12, 1864 Wish I could hear from home or get a letter to my friends.
Thursday, October 13, 1864 Got some soup and 5 hard tack to-day. Flour is $225 a barrel, Confederate money. Pies and cakes three dollars each.
Friday, October 14, 1864 Had a cup of crust coffee and half a cake for breakfast. Hope God in his Providence will deliver us from here. Half a dozen die daily from starvation.
Saturday, October 15, 1864 Drew some bread and molasses to eat to-day.
Sunday, October 16, 1864 Wish that I was home to go to church in Dearborn. Home, sweet home - will I ever see you again? Shall keep up the good cheer and trust in Providence. One of our officers was shot to-day while hanging his clothes on a tree.
Monday, October 17, 1864 Sold some buttons and bought half a corn dodger.
Tuesday, October 18, 1864 How hard to be here starving and suffering cold when one has a home with plenty. Could I only have the crumbs of my table I would not complain.
Wednesday, October 19, 1864 The officers leave to-day for another prison.
Thursday, October 20, 1864 No news yet from home. Eighty a week are dying here. Boys digging and making earth shanties. The hospital is overflowing. Diarrhea and black fever prevail, caused by starvation.
Friday, October 21, 1864 Grub came at 9 a.m. Have a severe headache
Saturday, October 22, 1864 No tents or barracks and many must perish. Think of my dear old home daily.
Sunday, October 23, 1864 Up and ready for my half loaf. It can't be colder in Michigan.
Monday, October 24, 1864 Got a cup of flour and molasses to eat to-day. Got one tent for 100 men to-day.
Tuesday, October 25, 1864 Sold my hat band for a loaf of bread. Two loads of dead went out. They bury our men without coffins or straw.
Wednesday, October 26, 1864 Noon and no rations. Discouraged. Ten died last night. Oh, will our government leave us here to perish.
Thursday, October 27, 1864 Cloudy and rainy, How our men suffer. Will get no provisions till to-morrow. Will not the Almighty punish men for such treatment of prisoners?
Friday, October 28, 1864 Twenty-two died last night. No rations to-day. Starvation stares us all in the face.
Saturday, October 29, 1864 No food for 36 hours. Will get no bread to-day. Almost famished. The men are about to raise a mob and break out. Twelve died this morning and others dying every hour.
Sunday, October 30, 1864 Sixty hours and only one quart of rice and two small pieces of meat to eat. Twenty died this morning. Hear we are to be paroled. God grant it.
Monday, October 31, 1864 Got half a loaf of bread to-day. Eighteen dead hauled out to-day.
Tuesday, November 1, 1864 Sold my hat for a loaf of bread and $500 Confederate money.
Wednesday, November 2, 1864 No rations till dark and then drew flour. Rains and cannot cook it .
Thursday, November 3, 1864 Cloudy and awful cold. Thirty died last night. Drew half a pint of flour today.
Saturday, November 5, 1864 A few of our men are enlisting in the Confederate army hoping to escape death here. The men are forced to it by starvation. Language nor pen can describe the suffering we undergo. Men die every hour.
Sunday, November 6, 1864 Drew meal and tripe for rations.
Monday, November 7, 1864 How I wish I was back to my old Wayne County home. God has kept me thus far, and I will rely on his mercy. Six hundred came from Richmond last night.
Tuesday, November 8, 1864 No rations to-day.
Wednesday, November 9, 1864 Trade pantaloons and get half a loaf of bread to boot. Traded boots and gave half a loaf of bread worth five dollars.
Thursday, November 10, 1864 Rainy. Slept only half the night.
Friday, November 11, 1864 Saw a piece in the Raleigh Standard that the Governor of Georgia favors peace
Sunday, November 13, 1864 What a cheerless sabbath; about eighteen die daily.
Monday, November 14, 1864 Hear that Lincoln is elected. Bourassas of Company F, Twenty-fourth Michigan is dead.
Wednesday, November 16, 1864 Half a loaf of corn bread for this day.  
Thursday, November 17, 1864 Hear that letters will go North. Must write to my friends.
Friday, November 18, 1864 Corn bread for ration.
Saturday, November 19, 1864 Lay abed all day to keep warm. Cold and Stormy. Got half a loaf of poor corn bread. Men are dying like sheep with the rot.

24th Michigan Monument
Gettysburg National Military Park

The 24th Michigan, also known as Detroit and Wayne County Regiment, was originally composed of volunteers from the Detroit Area. Recruiting began on July 26th, 1862 and in less than 2 weeks, the ranks had been filled. It served in the Army of the Potomac, and was assigned to the famous Iron Brigade. While not one of the original regiments, the 24th Michigan quickly earned the respect of the hard fighting westerners. Not heavily engaged at Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville, the Regiment marched to Gettysburg some 493 strong. By the end of the first day's battle fewer than 100 men answered roll call, having incurred approximately 80% casualties. The Regiment has the dubious distinction of having the highest losses of any of the 400 union regiments engaged at Gettysburg. The regiment played an important role in Grant's 1864 campaign, and was engaged heavily at Wilderness, Spottsylvannia, and Petersburg. In the spring of 1865, the regiment was assigned to duty at Camp Butler Illinois. The governor of Michigan authorized the Regiment to recruit up to full strength, which was quite unusual and an indication of the reputation that that the men had fought so hard to earn. The regiment was part of the honor guard at Lincoln's Funeral in Springfield, Illinois. A month later, the regiment returned to Detroit and was mustered out on June 30, 1865.

Sunday, November 20, 1864 It still rains. Cold and muddy. In bed to keep warm. Got half a loaf of sour corn bread.
Monday, November 21, 1864 Rained all night and all day. Mud knee deep
Tuesday, November 22, 1864 Awful cold day, one freezes to stir out long enough to draw rations. Willaird of Company A, Twenty-Fourth Michigan died last night.
Wednesday, November 23, 1864 Too cold to take off our clothes to skirmish for "greybacks."
Thursday, November 24, 1864 Thanksgiving day at home. We get only a quarter loaf of bread. Hardly enough to live on. Forty die daily.
Friday, November 25, 1864 I write with sad heart. Only got four ounces of bread today. Suffering with cold. Nearly naked. Covered with lice. Oh, what a fate! Must we die? Will not God deliver us from this hell?
Saturday, November 26, 1864 Yesterday the mob secured the guard and rallied to get out. We lost in killed and wounded about ninety.
Sunday, November 27, 1864 Drew half a loaf. One hundred colored soldiers came in to-day.
Monday, November 28, 1864 Got two ounces of meat. There is plenty of bread in the cook house but C.S.A. would rather have us starve fifty a day
Wednesday, November 30, 1864 Saw a man drop dead from starvation.
Monday, December 5, 1864 No hope of parole. Half a loaf and a potato for to-day's ration.
Thursday, December 8, 1864 Chapman, of Company K, Twenty-fourth Michigan died this morning,
Saturday, December 10, 1864 Seventy-five men have died since yesterday.
Sunday, December 11, 1864 Men still dying over fifty a day. Hear that Sherman is twenty-five miles of Savannah. Hope something will turn up.
Tuesday, December 13, 1864 Slept none last night it was so cold.
Thursday, December 15, 1864 On quarter rations. Hear that we are to go to South Carolina. Hope that we will get out of this accursed place. Shall I ever see home again?
Saturday, December 17, 1864 Bought an onion for a dollar.
Sunday, December 18, 1864 Had a cup of good soup made from a bone.
Tuesday, December 20, 1864 In bed all day. Rain at night run in on our bed.
Wednesday, December 21, 1864 Cold and muddy. Still stick to our beds to keep from freezing. Got only half a loaf of bread to-day. Disease and death doing their work as usual.
Thursday, December 22, 1864 Drew bread and molasses.
Friday, December 23, 1864 Nearly frozen. No fire. Only a piece of raw corn bread to eat. How long must we suffer so?
Sunday, December 25, 1864 Had a loaf of bread and rice soup for Christmas dinner.
Monday, December 26, 1864 The Catholic prisoners about 200 left for a new camp.
Wednesday, December 28, 1864 Clark W. Butler of Company H, Twenty-fourth Michigan died to-day.
Friday, December 30, 1864 Half a loaf only. Getting discouraged. Men still dying like sheep. No relief. Our government has forsaken us! God forgive but we never can.
Sunday, January 1, 1865 Sergeant Nardin of Company I, Twenty-fourth Michigan, died last night
Monday, January 2, 1865 Living in bed to keep warm. Oh, how dreary is such a life. Will we ever get out of this place?
Tuesday, January 3, 1865 Drew salt meat and bread.
Wednesday, January 4, 1865 The men still sicken and die.  
Thursday, January 5, 1865 In bed to keep warm. Will it ever be my lot to see home again?
Friday, January 6, 1865 Rainy and mud knee deep.

Henry was 67 years old
Photograph © Copyright
Dearborn Historical Museum

Sunday, January 8, 1865 Too cold to look over my clothing for lice. Got half a loaf. Burnett of Company H, Twenty-fourth Michigan is dead.
Monday, January 9, 1865 Sitting in bed all shivering with the cold.
Tuesday, January 10, 1865 Rained all night. mud too deep to stir outside. John A Sherwood of Company C, Twenty-Fourth Michigan has also died here.
Wednesday, January 11, 1865 Only some molasses to eat today.
Thursday, January 12, 1865 Got half a loaf.
Friday, January 13, 1865 Hunted lice on my shirt all day. Oh what a life!
Saturday, January 14, 1865 No rations in camp; 100 of us go out to work on R.R. Got half a loaf for our day's work.
Friday, January 20, 1865 Been in bed six days to keep warm.
Sunday January 22, 1865 Sick in bed.
Monday, January 23, 1865 Men dying like sheep every hour. Oh, what a horrid place! Such a stench and lice. One can hardly live.  
Tuesday, January 24, 1865 Still in bed to keep warm.

Annie Edwards
Mrs. Henry H Ladd
Photograph © Copyright
Dearborn Historical Museum

Wednesday, January 25, 1865 Hundreds are sick and dying goes on all the time.
Thursday, January 26, 1865 Nearly frozen to death. No fire, no clothing, nor anything to keep warm. One can lie down and die of despair. Hope is all that is left
Friday, January 27, 1865 Still awful cold. One of the boys by my side died last night.
Saturday, January 28, 1865 Still in bed shivering from cold. It breaks the stoutest heart.
Sunday, January, 29, 1865 Still suffer and sick.
Monday, January 30, 1865 Get less to eat every day. Am poor; will not weigh ninety pounds.
Tuesday, January 31, 1865 Things look dreary, but hope to see home again.
Wednesday, February 1, 1865 Sold my last article, my housewife, for two onions.
Sunday, February 5, 1865 Bread and molasses for rations today. Men dying as usual.
Tuesday, February 7, 1865 My diary is kept only weekly now for want of space. Snow and sleet. Lie abed all day. Could not sleep for hunger last night.
Sunday, February 12, 1865 Bruskie of Company E, Twenty-fourth Michigan, died last night. This makes the eighth man of our regiment that has died here who were captured on Aug. 19th last.
Sunday, February 19, 1865 Parole papers are made out and we are to start for our lines. Thank God, the day of deliverance has come. One thousand left last night. There have died in this prison 5,019 prisoners since I came here last October.   ;
Wednesday, February 22, 1865 Left Salisbury prison for the north at noon,
  (Diary filled)