Camp Douglas opened in 1861 as a training site for soldiers for the Civil War. It was named for the man who donated its 60 acres of land, Stephen A. Douglas. It was bounded by what would be 31st Street, 33rd Place, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Cottage Grove Avenue.
It became a prisoner-of-war camp in early 1862. Though intended for a maximum of 6,000 prisoners, it often "accommodated" as many as 12,000 at one time. An estimated total of 26,000 prisoners were housed here during the war. Thousands died.