Jul 8, 2015

Camp Douglas, Chicago - Civil War

"the largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere: a mound of roughly 4,000 Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Douglas, now buried at Oak Woods Cemetery at 67th Street and Cottage Grove. (The soldiers had originally been buried in City Cemetery, now Lincoln Park. But soon after the war, the city thought better of placing the dead so close to Lake Michigan — Chicago’s principal source of drinking water. That cemetery was closed and the Confederate soldiers were moved to Oak Woods, the only cemetery that would accept them.)
Staring up at the forty-foot-tall bronze and granite memorial where a despondent-looking Confederate soldier stands atop a granite column, bowing his head in remembrance, "


Two of my great great grandfathers escorted prisoners  from the battlefield to the prison camp in Chicago.  They stopped every 25 or 30 miles to bury both prisoners and guards who died from disease. Their Regiment lost far more men from disease than from combat.

"McClernand's troops and Porter's fleet reached Arkansas Post on the evening of the 9th of January. In the operations of the 10th and 11th of January, 1863, we had a further taste of war, accompanied with the exulation of victory. The Thirty-Fourth took a leading part in the siege and capture of the fort. Its flag being one of the first placed within the breastworks of the rebels, by Major R. D. Kellogg. Among the 4,791 prisoners were Gen. Churchill, rebel general commanding, and his staff; seven colonels; about fifteen lieutenant-colonels and majors, and 330 other officers. Rebels killed and wounded, about 800; of the Union troops, about 1,000; the Thirty Fourth in killed and wounded, seventeen; among them the brave and fearless Capt. Dan H. Lyons of company C, mortally wounded by a bullet in the breast, who died the morning after the battle. 

As if in recognition of the gallantry of the Thirty-Fourth, the prisoners taken in this engagement were put in charge of that regiment with what assistance they needed, being six companies of the Thirteenth Illinois regiment. These prisoners except the commissioned officers were conveyed to Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill. The officers were sent to Johnson's Island. 

One hesitates to attempt a description of the suffering of this trip to Chicago which resulted from packing and jamming of about 5,500 men on three moderate sized boats. The cases of small pox were greatly multiplied in the regiment and before we reached St. Louis the disease broke out among the prisoners. We were two weeks going from Arkansas Post to St. Louis. Col. Clark stated in one of his reports, what we all remember too vividly, that "the human suffering during this trip exceeded anything I have ever witnessed in the same length of time." The state rooms were filled with sick. The floors of the cabin were covered with the sick of our own regiment, and also sick rebels, all lying closely together, some with fevers, some with pneumonia, some with measles, some with small pox, all with chronic diarrhea. 

There were not enough well men to properly guard the prisoners and care for the sick. Each night the pails used for excretions were filled to overflowing and the overflow would run down the sides of the cabin. The poisonous stench arising from the cabin was terrible. It could have been no worse in the black hole of Calcutta, or in the holds of slave-ships, which before our war, filled with human beings, made their long voyages with closed hatches. At Memphis we put off a number of sick, at Cairo more, and at Arsenal Island just below St. Louis, a desolate looking place it was, 100 or more cases of small pox and varioloid1; in Chicago hospitals we left 200 of "our poor sick boys." 

History of the After disposing of the prisoners in Chicago, the regiment returned to Benton barracks on the 5th day of February, 1863. The regiment was at this time totally broken down. Its dead had been planted along the islands of the Mississippi, and at every graveyard we touched in our route, its sick and dying had filled the hospitals at every place where hospital accommodations could be had."


"Regiment lost during service 1 Officer and 11 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 244 Enlisted men by disease. Total 258."

Both of my great great grandfathers survived the war but were discharged for disability.

"SERVICE.--Sherman's Yazoo Expedition December 22, 1862, to January 2, 1863. Chickasaw Bayou December 26-28, 1862. Chickasaw Bluffs December 29. Expedition to Arkansas Post, Ark., January 3-10, 1863. Assault on and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, January 10-11. Moved to Chicago, Ill., with prisoners January 17-February 5. At St. Louis, Mo., until April 1. Guard prisoners to City Point, Va., April 1-20. Moved to Pilot Knob, Mo., and duty there until June 3. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., June 3-10. Siege of Vicksburg June 10-July 4. Expedition to Yazoo City July 12-21. Occupation of Yazoo City July 14. Moved to Port Hudson, thence to Carrollton, La., August 20-24. Expedition to Morganza through swamps of the Atchafalaya September 9-10. Sterling's Plantation September 29. Moved to Carrollton October 10. Expedition to the Rio Grande, Texas, October 24-November 8. Brazos Santiago, November 2-3. Advance on Brownsville November 3-6. Expedition to Arkansas November 14-21. Mustang Island November 17. Fort Esperanza November 27-30. Duty on Matagorda Island until April. Moved to Alexandria, La., April 20-27. Red River Campaign April 27-May 22. Construction of dam at Alexandria April 30-May 10. Graham's Plantation May 5. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansure May 15-16. Expedition from Morganza to the Atchafalaya May 30-June 6. Moved to Baton Rouge and duty there until July. Operations against Fort Gaines, Mobile Bay, August 2-8, and against Fort Morgan August 9-23. Capture of Fort Morgan August 23. Moved to Morganza August 7-11. Duty there and at mouth of White River, Ark., until January 25, 1865. Expedition to Morgan's Ferry December 13-14, 1864. Moved to New Orleans, La., January 25, 1865; thence to Barrancas, Fla., January 26-28, and to Pensacola, Fla., March 11, March to Fort Blakely, Ala., March 20-April 2. Occupation of Canoe Station March 27. Siege of Fort Blakely April 2-9. Capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Duty at Mobile and Selma, Ala., until May. Ordered to Texas May 12. Duty at Galveston and Houston, Texas, until August. Mustered out August 15, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 1 Officer and 11 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 244 Enlisted men by disease. Total 258."

Thanks to MPHS Military Historian Al Linsenmeyer for reminding us of this prison camp in Chicago.

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