Friday, August 11 | 12:00pm – 1:00pm | Speaker: Rob Girardi
Camp Douglas, located on the south side of Chicago, was Illinois’ largest Civil War training camp. More than 40,000 Union volunteers mustered here. In February 1862, the camp was converted to accommodate Confederate prisoners of war. About 24,000 Confederates were held there during the war, of which 6,000 died. Their story is well-told. Yet lesser known is the story of the thousands of Union POWs who were held in the camp while awaiting exchange.
In September 1862, nearly 13,000 Union soldiers surrendered to Confederate forces at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The majority of these were interred in parole camps waiting to be exchanged before they could rejoin the Union Army. More than 8,000 of these Union soldiers were sent to Camp Douglas where they occupied barracks recently vacated by Confederate prisoners and were subjected to the same poor sanitary conditions and privations. Their uncertain future and lack of understanding of their status led to a breakdown in discipline. Mr. Girardi’s presentation is an account of their troublesome experiences in Chicago.