Johnson's Island Union Prison

     Originally called Bull's Island (prisoners would later refer to the prison as the Bull Pen), Johnson's Island 330 acres on Sandusky Bay.

     Prison Regiment at Johnson's Island Confederate Officer's Prison consisted of an early morning call and a day of inactivity until the evening's call. Prisoners spent their days writing studying, writing letters and playing baseball.

     From April of 1862 until September of 1865, over 9000 Confederates passed through Johnsonís Island Civil War Military Prison leaving behind an extensive historical and archaeological record. Many of these officers recorded in journals or diaries the day to day happenings, emotions, and conditions they were enduring. They also spent many hours writing letters, collecting autographs from prisoners, and sketching maps. These documents give vast insight into what prison life was like, as well as the personal conflicts and hardships encountered among families and friends during the Civil War.

     The 16.5 acre Johnsonís Island Prison Compound contained 13 Blocks (12 as prisoner housing units and one as a hospital), latrines, sutlerís stand, 3 wells, pest house, 2 large mess halls (added in August, 1864) and more. The Blocks were two stories high and approximately 130 by 24 feet. There were more than 40 buildings outside the stockade (barns, stables, a lime kiln, forts, barracks for officers, a powder magazine, etc.) used by the 128th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to guard the prison. The two major fortifications (Forts Johnson and Hill) protecting Johnson's Island were constructed over the 1864/65 winter, and were operational by March of 1865.

     Horace H. Lurton, confined as a private, began his law studies while imprisoned. He became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1910. The Rebel Thespians, a troop of prisoners, wrote and produced many shows. ..."Goober Peas," which hit the National Hit Parade in the 1950s vocalized by Doc Wilson, originated as a Johnson's Island marching song.

     Of the 9,000 men held captive, 206 remain forever---their headstones carved in white Georgian marble. A bronze Confederate private keeps guard over the cemetery as he looks south toward Cedar Point, Sandusky and beyond.


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