Setting the Record Straight

The Court-martial of Major John H. Gee, Commandant
Salisbury Confederate Prison
Salisbury, North Carolina
One of the great untold stories of the War for Southern Independence is the court-martial of Major John Henry Gee (pronounced "G") by the United States Government.

Major Gee was commandant of the prison at Salisbury, North Carolina, during the months of 1864-1865 when, as a result of overcrowding, thousands of prisoners died from starvation and disease.  This was despite heroic efforts by Gee and other prison personnel to provide for them. 

After his parole from the war, Gee returned to his home in Quincy, Florida, to resume his life as a physician.  Although warned he was going to be arrested  and strongly urged by his friends to flee, he choose to be put on trial to prove his innocence. He was taken into custody  in Quincy in October of 1865 and imprisoned at the infamous Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C.  on charges of cruelty and murder.  There is credible evidence that he was there when Captian Henry Wirz, commandant of the Andersonville, Georgia, prison was hanged on November 10; and it was from there that he penned a poignant poem,
"The Captive", the inspiration for the title of a book compiled by Annette Gee Ford.  Major Gee was later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he was tried by a U.S. military commission and unanimously acquitted on all charges.
Dr. John Henry Gee
See the book
The trial was a major news event at the time, with extensive coverage in Northern and Southern newspapers, and citizens (primarily ladies' groups)  from New Orleans to Savannah and as far north as Raleigh held social events to raise money for his defense.  Still his story  has been omitted from the written history of the war.  Untruths abound about his role at the prison,  and many well-known historians still proclaim that Wirz was the only commandant ever tried.  Fortunately, however, Major Gee's trial was recorded verbatim; and, in addition to a biographical sketch of his life, Ford's book contains a complete transcript of the 4000-page handwritten document found in the National Archives. 

The reader will find that an accurate history of the prison  and Major Gee's humane character  emerge through eyewitness accounts of daily happenings and major events that occurred there from the day word first came that the great number of prisoners were about to arrive through General Stoneman's raid on April 12, 1865.  Witnesses  include Salisbury citizens, former guards and prison personel, and former prisoners (including famed war correspondents and authors, Junius Henri Browne, and Albert D. Richardson).

Annette Gee Ford is the great granddaughter of Major Gee's brother,  Lt. Col. Bolivar H. Gee (59th Ga. Reg.),  who was also a major player in the war.  She is a graduate of Florida State University and is employed by the Florida Legislature as an editor on lawbook publications.  She resides in Quincy, Florida.

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