Neill Angus Ray: A Survivor of Point Lookout Prison Camp
On June 1, 1864, seventeen-and-a-half-year-old Neill Angus Ray enlisted in the Confederate Army at Wilmington, North Carolina. According to war records, Ray was five-feet-eight-inches tall and had a fair complexion, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair. Ray was first assigned to Company A, 3rd N.C. Junior Reserves, then later to Company A, 7th Battalion, N.C. Junior Reserves. Neill was captured by Union Troops on December 25, 1864 at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. He was received at Fort Monroe, Virginia on December 29, and confined to military prison. Then, on December 31, the young soldier was forwarded to Point Lookout, Maryland. Ray was held prisoner there for the remainder of the war.
Point Lookout, Maryland is at the southern tip of the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. There, the ten-mile-wide Potomac River rolls into the twenty-mile-wide Bay. During the Civil War, this was the site of a hospital and prison camp for Confederate soldiers. Built to hold ten thousand men, by the end of the war, the overcrowded camp housed twice that many. Food and living conditions were horrible and nearly 3,400 prisoners died during the camps existence. Small traces of the once sprawling facilities are still visible, and in Point Lookout Confederate cemetery there are monuments to commemorate the existence of the prisoners who died.
After the war, Ray was released from the prison camp on June 17, 1865. He returned to his home in the Puppy Creek Community of western Cumberland County, now Hoke County. On March 28, 1869, he married Isabella Johnson of the Philippi Church area. They were members of Galatia Presbyterian Church and are buried in the church cemetery.