top of page

Marquis de Lafayette Abbott

Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas

Marquis de Lafayette Abbott (1830-1880)

Marquis de Lafayette Abbott is a sixth-generation descendant of George and Hannah (David5, Nathan4, Thomas3, Thomas2, George1). He is of interest to me for several reasons. First is his name, although he often went by M. D. L or just Lafayette. Second, he was one of the George Abbott descendants who served in the Confederate forces, and he was taken prisoner 30 November 1864 and spent time at two of the more notorious prisons for Confederate soldiers: Camp Douglas near Chicago and Point Lookout in Maryland. And lastly, he provides an opportunity to take just a small leap in making the connection as a descendant of George Abbott of Andover and exploring the outcome of his father David Abbott son of Nathan and Betty (Farnum) Abbott.

First, Lafayette’s father David: David was born at Concord, NH 22 September 1772, the fourth of ten children of Nathan and Betty (Farnum) Abbott. The Abbot genealogical register reports that he was a house joiner and that there is no account of him after he went to New York 11 March 1794. (1) The Rutherford County Tennessee Historical Society suggests that this David Abbott made his way to Tennessee and died in Gibson County, TN 2 Dec 1856. The historical society has prepared a summary on David and reports he married Elizabeth Cummins 15 Oct 1811. (2) And, indeed, there is in Tennessee census records David Abbott born in New Hampshire of the right age to be this David. There are other David Abbotts born within a year or two of this David, but none in New Hampshire and the other David Abbotts are accounted for – at least those in the descendancy of George Abbott of Andover.

David Abbott owned a mill and received a pension for service in the War of 1812. (3) There is an 1850 U.S. Census Record for Fall Creek, Rutherford, TN which lists David Abbott born about 1772 in NH as head of the household. (4)

David Abbott married Elizabeth Cummins at Rutherford County, TN 15 October 1811. Elizabeth was born in Tennessee about 1795, the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Waller) Cummins. The couple had a least six children, two daughters and four sons, and there may well be thirteen children. Although married in 1811, the first documented child is daughter Leticia born in 1824 and there is plenty of speculation about the other possible children.

David Abbott wrote his will 24 August 1855 that was in probate in Gibson County, TN in February 1857. In his will, David Abbott made the following bequests: to beloved wife Elizabeth, he leaves "all my black people and servants" during her natural life and on her death, these same to be divided equally among his four youngest sons Fayette, James, Samuel, and George. All the remainder of his property is to be equally divided among his four sons and son Fayette is named executor. (5)

The oldest of the “four youngest sons” was Marquis de Lafayette Abbott born about 1830 likely in Gibson County. Lafayette served in the Confederate forces and was taken prisoner at Franklin, TN 30 Nov 1864 by forces under Major General Thomas. He was at the military prison in Louisville the first week in December but discharged from there to the military prison at Camp Douglas, IL on 3 Dec 1864. He was transferred from Camp Douglas to Point Lookout, MD 23 Mar 1865. He was released 9 Jun 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States and was provided transportation to Gibson, TN. (6, 7)

Camp Douglas became known as the “Andersonville of the North” with a death rate of prisoners that exceeded 17%. Following the war, the bodies of 4,275 Confederate prisoners who died at Camp Douglas were moved from the camp cemetery and re-interred in a mass grave at Oaks Wood Cemetery. (8, 9) Point Lookout was known for similar bleak conditions. A set of sketches made by a Confederate prisoner at Point Lookout have now been digitized by the New York Historical Society and can be seen at this link:

After returning from the war, Lafayette settled in Gibson County. He married Emma Lea Wright on 6 October 1875. Emma was born 13 April 1847 the daughter of Griffin and Violet (Jetton) Wright. Lafayette and Emma had one daughter who died in infancy. Lafayette died in Gibson County in 1880.

Photo credit:

Miller and Lanier, The Photographic History of the Civil War

1) Abbot and Abbot, Genealogical Register of Descendants of George Abbot, p 89

2) Rutherford County Tennessee Historical Society, “Some of the Earliest People in Rutherford County by Their Date of Birth Prior to 1800,” retrieved from

3) National Archives, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,

4) Year: 1850; Census Place: Fall Creek, Rutherford, Tennessee; Roll: M432_894; Page: 164B; Image: 321

5) Tennessee Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008, Gibson County, TN, Will Books Vol D-F, 1846-1862, Will of David Abbott.

6) U.S., Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865

7) Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Tennessee 1862

8) Kelly, Dennis, August 1989. “A History of Camp Douglas, Illinois, Union Prison, 1861-1865”, United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service

9) Eisendrath, Joseph L., 1960. Chicago’s Camp Douglas, 1861-1865, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, volume 53, no. 1, 37-63

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page