Prison of War Camp

      Camp Chase was a Civil War camp established in May 1861, on land leased by the U.S. Government. It served as a replacement for the much smaller Camp Jackson. The main entrance was on the National Road 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Boundaries of the camp were present-day Broad Street (north), Hague Avenue (east), Sullivant Avenue (south), and near Westgate Avenue (west). Named for former Ohio Governor and Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, it was a training camp for Ohio volunteer army soldiers, a parole camp, a muster outpost, and a prisoner-of-war camp. The nearby Camp Thomas served as a similar base for the Regular Army.

     Camp Chase Cemetery Monument. As many as 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates from 18611865. By February 1865, over 9,400 men were held at the prison. More than 2,000 Confederates are buried in the Camp Chase Cemetery.
Four future Presidents passed through Camp Chase: Andrew Johnson, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and William McKinley. It also held Confederates captured during Morgan's Raid in 1863, including Col. Basil W. Duke. Early in the war, the prison section held a group of prominent western Virginia and Kentucky civilians suspected of actively supporting secession, including former 3-term United States Congressman Richard Henry Stanton.

      The camp was closed in 1865, and by September 1867, dismantled buildings, usable items, and 450 patients from Tripler Military Hospital (also in Columbus) were transferred to the National Soldier's Home in Dayton. In 1895, former Union soldier William H. Knauss organized the first memorial service at the cemetery, and in 1906 he wrote a history of the camp.

November 1862 Early November 1862:
Journal by Lt. W. H. Herbert
Lt. W.H. Herbert speaks of his experience as a Confederate Prisoner:

      We remained in Wheeling prison several days, leaving there one evening, the first part of November, under a guard of seven for Camp Chase, Ohio. On reaching Newark a gentleman coming into the car took a seat just in front of me. On the way to Columbus we fell into conversation, when I told him I was a Confederate prisoner. He was surprised and wanted to know how many there were of us. I gave him the number - twelve prisoners and seven guards. Then he said: "When we get to Columbus I would like to do something for you boys. If we find a restaurant open, I'll set up supper for the party." I referred him to the officer in charge, who, upon being informed that the guard was to be included in the supper, gave his consent. We landed in Columbus about 11:30 at night, marched up High St, looking for a restaurant . Luckily we found one on the corner of High St, opposite the Statehouse, that was still open. It was in the basement, entrance down steps on the street leading out to Camp Chase. Here we had a supper fit for the gods. Our host, who proved himself a royal entertainer, was then deputy sheriff of Franklin County.

      There was a bar in connection with the restaurant, and while supper was being prepared "John Barleycorn" flowed freely to those who wished to imbibe. We all seemed that way inclined, some more so than others. Several Union officers who had been captured and released on parole came in, and when they found we were Confederate prisoners they were exceedingly kind. They requested the proprietor to give us the best of everything the house had to offer.

      About that time General McClellan had been relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac and General Burnside appointed to the place. These officers were strong McClellan men, and were loud in their opposition to the change. After we all had our supper we took one farewell drink "from the same canteen" before starting on the tramp to Camp Chase. The most of the party were groggy and wabbled along as best they could. As we emerged from the west end of the covered bridge we found that one of the prisoners and one of the guards were past locomotion; they were simply paralyzed. The officer in charge had them carried to the roadside at the end of the bridge wall and left them lying there, the balance taking up the line of tramp to the prison, which was reached in due time. ** When the roll of prisoners was called and one found missing, the officer said he was left by the roadside, too sick to travel, and that he had left a guard with him. As day was breaking we marched through the gate to our quarters in Prison 2, Mess No. 12. About nine o'clock the same morning a cart came driving in with our absent brother. What became of the guard, I never learned. A Major Zinn was then in command of the prison.

      The prison was a long barracks built of rough boards, one story high, running lengthwise of the inclosure, divided off into apartments, each containing twelve bunks, six on a side, three men, to the bunk, thirty-six comprising the mess. A high board fence surrounded the inclosure, at top of which was a walk, used by the guard, and at intervals were small shelters used in inclement weather. The roll of the prisoners was called every morning and evening by the officer from the top of this fence, and all letters were distributed from there also. One of the sad incidents that occurred was the killing of a citizen-prisoner from Kentucky and the wounding of a citizen-prisoner from Virginia by the guard one night after taps had sounded. In each mess was a small cook stove, which sat in the middle of the floor with mouth toward the door. When taps were sounded the guard would call: "Lights out!" On this occasion the light kept flickering from the stove mouth, which could be seen through the cracks between the boards. He called out again, "Lights Out!" then he fired his gun into the mess where he saw the light, killing one man and wounding the another.

      One of the funny incidents that occurred while I was there was that a woman was permitted to come inside to do washing for the prisoners. She would have her tubs just inside the dead line near the fence. Some soldiers were fond of their toddy, and generally got it by hook or crook; so they worked on the tender sympathies of this washerwoman, and she would bring in a bottle now and then concealed under her dress, and when the opportunity offered they got it. One morning she came in with a quart in one of those old-style flat glass bottles, with General Jackson's head on one side and an ear of corn on the other. The bottle was not quite full. She began her washing. The guard on duty kept close watch, so that the party for whom the whiskey was intended could not get it at once. She kept on rubbing the clothes. The motion agitated the whiskey, creating a gas in the bottle, and there was an explosion like unto the report of a mountain Howitzer. The guard turned out, and, when the cause of the explosion was solved, the old lady was escorted through the gate to the outside. She never returned while I was there. After this occurrence the sutler would furnish spirits on the sly, labeled "Butter", at two dollars the quart. About two hundred of us left Camp Chase the latter part of November, 1862, with three day's rations, via Dayton and Cincinnati, for Cairo ,Ill.

Prisoners at Camp Chase near Columbus, OH

December 25, 1862
The Democratic Standard (Delaware, Ohio)

      Camp Delaware is numbered among the things that were. On Monday last, a squad of soldiers belonging to the Governor's Guards, at Camp Chase came up and tore down the barracks remaining in Camp Delaware, preparatory to taking them to Camp Chase, where they are to be put up as quarters for horses. The deed is done. Our people allowed it to be removed without an effort made for its retention.

      The Alton prison opened in 1833 as the first Illinois State Penitentiary and was closed in 1860, when the last prisoners were moved to a new facility at Joliet. By late in 1861 an urgent need arose to relieve the overcrowding at 2 St. Louis prisons. On December 31, 1861, Major General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Department of the Missouri, ordered Lieutenant-Colonel James B. McPherson to Alton for an inspection of the closed penitentiary. Colonel McPherson reported that the prison could be made into a military prison and house up to 1,750 prisoners with improvements estimated to cost $2,415.

      Alton Civil War Prison was established February 9, 1862 when the first Confederate prisoners were delivered there. The prison was housed in the abandoned Illinois State Penitentiary built in 1831 and located near the Mississippi River in Alton Illinois.

      The prison was built in the style of a fortress, made of stone with walls 30 feet high. Initially the prison held 24 cells. Overcrowding!..... Through modern archeology digs, the size of these cells has been determined to be 4 feet wide by 7 feet 4 inches long. Reports indicate there were 3 men in each cell!

     During the 3 years of use during the Civil War, almost 12,000 Confederate soldiers were incarcerated at Alton Prison.

      Disease, scurvy, fever and general malnutrition plagued the prisoners but it was the dreaded smallpox which killed 6-10 prisoners per day during an outbreak in Alton Prison. The smallpox epidemic became so bad that prisoners were sent to a quarantine hospital on an island across the Mississippi River.

     The exact death toll is not known but reports estimate 1500-2200 Confederate soldiers died within the walls of this infamous military prison. Due to neglect of the old cemetery, all graves of those who died at Alton Prison are unidentifiable. There is a monument, however, erected by the U.S. Government. The granite monument is 40 feet tall surrounded by an iron fence. Bronze plaques adorn the monument and are engraved with names and military units of all known Confederates who found their final resting place in the cemetery at Alton.

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