Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern state; Confederate cemetery

I had no idea there were Confederate Army cemeteries in the northern states, let alone in Columbus, Ohio where I went to college.  Our friend Carl took us to see it.  
Called Camp Chase, it’s named after Salmon P. Chase, a former Ohio Governor, US Senator, Supreme Court Justice and Secretary of Treasury for President Lincoln.  
Camp Chase was originally a military training camp and a place where men started out or were “mustered” into their military jobs, and also discharged.  Later it became a Confederate prisoner of war camp and the burial place for soldiers who died from war wounds while imprisoned. Most prisoners, however, died from disease (a small pox epidemic in 1863 killed nearly 500 Camp Chase POWs in a single month) or because of a lack of medicine, food and warm clothing.
Just over 2000 soldiers are buried at Camp Chase.  While it’s expected -yet still tragic - that people die in war, this was a time before autos or even reliable mail, and boys from southern states might as well have been on the moon.  Families might never have known that their son/husband/brother was a POW or where he was buried.  
By the the end of the war, over 400,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were held as prisoners of war; about 56,000 of those died while imprisoned.   As many as 620,000 people lost their lives in the Civil War ... that’s more than have been killed in all US wars since then.
Cooper, Jim and Carl in front of the gates of Camp Chase.  By 1865, there were 9,400 prisoners here. Most were housed in tents. 
 A statue of a soldier stands on the arch in the middle of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery; the word “Americans” is carved into the arch.  On the boulder below it says “2260 Confederate Soldiers of the War 1861-1865 buried in this enclosure.”
 Legend has it that a ghost wearing a gray dress and veil weeps quitetly over the man in this grave.
In addition to soldiers, some men who worked at the POW camps were buried there and were listed on the graves as “citizens.” We also saw a few listed as “conscripts” like the one above.  CSA stands for Confederate States of America.

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