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Saturday, March 03, 2018


Salisbury In The Civil War

Salisbury’s participation in the Civil War was minimal at best. The devastating fire of 1860 had leveled the entire downtown, so much of the 1861- 65 era was spent rebuilding the town. The Union established Camp Upton on the land where the old Daily Times building was on Carroll Street. The population at the camp outnumbered the citizens who lived in Salisbury at the time.

The sentiments of the entire Eastern Shore were divided in their loyalties to both the North and the South. The Union put Camp Upton in Salisbury to guard the telegraph line from north to south that provided information for the Union forces. They would occasionally roust a few Southern sympathizers to check for weapons that could be used against them.

There is a grave in Salisbury that has a stone that gives the soldier’s name and the designation “U S C I”. This stood for United States Colored Infantry. Researching his service showed him to have been owned by a George Johnson. He was mustered in on March 29, 1864 and discharged on December 4, 1865. He was 34 years old at the time.

Another local figure that was prominent during the Civil War was Clara Gunby. She was the sister of L. W. Gunby of hardware store fame. She lived in Fruitland and came to Salisbury one time to buy some things for her upcoming wedding to Will Huffington of Allen. While in Salisbury, she refused to walk under a Union flag stretched across Bridge (Main) St. When someone got wind of this, they hung one over her front door. She still refused to walk under it and entered and exited her house by crawling in and out of a window rather than acknowledge the colors. Her acts were eventually deemed serious enough for her to be sent to Baltimore to be tried by a military commission and she was finally exiled to the South for the duration of the War.

There are only two other incidents that are noteworthy. One is when a Mr. Byrd, who owned a local tavern where the Court House now stands, shot and killed a rowdy Union soldier at his establishment. Nothing ever came of this, however.

The other deaths were as a result of disease. It seems a regiment of Union soldiers from Massachusetts was marching back home from having fought in the South. They had an extraordinary number of cases of either typhoid fever or black measles and had to stop at Camp Upton. Camp Upton had a hospital that was where the main entrance to PRMC is now. A total of 51 or 52 soldiers died and are buried locally. Most of them were buried in the old Potter’s Field behind what is now Arby’s by Wi Jr Hi. Some of the graves were moved to Parson’s cemetery when they cut Route 50 through there. No one knew any names but the uniform buttons and belt buckles identified them as the Union soldiers.

As for any local folk making a name for themselves, there appears to be none. After all, they had a town to rebuild and crops to tend.


Anonymous said...

Good article, but quick question. The soldiers from Massachusetts that were marching home from the south, how did they end up here on the peninsula? Did they bring boats across? Or for some reason come up and around the bay? I may be having a moment here, but was trying to figure this out, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr C I am the one that asked you to write on this subject. As always I enjoyed your post.

Cathy said...

i was driving down mill street the other day (not a normal route for me) but i noticed that along the railroad tracks is a headstone that is fenced in. whats the story on this? i immediately thought of you, Mr. Chevallier.

thanks :)

George Chevallier said...

I have not turned up any mention of their itinery, so I do not know how they came to be on the Shore. They must have come up from Norfolk. I can only surmise that to go the other way around the Eastern Shore would have put them too close to the Confederate forces near Richmond and the Eastern Shore was in Union hands.

George Chevallier said...

I have a full explanation of that stone as researched by Jim Trader. If you would send me your email address at, I will forward it to you. It is quite fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chevalier,
What about the plaque downtown? Confederate general Winder? Was he the Winder involved in Andersonville before Wertz took over? I certainly hope not! Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your articles about the history of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For those of us who are students of history, your stories of the lives of those who spent time on the land are fascinating.

Anonymous said...

That bayonet is not from a civil war gun.

Anonymous said...

Just like now, the locals don't get involved in anything. They just complain about it.

Anonymous said...

March 3, 2018 at 11:33 AM:

You must be a liberal from the other side of the bay. Locals are the only ones that count around here. "You people" are the ones that don't mean anything to us locals. We couldn't care less about what you think, or what the rest of all the Baltimorons think.