: This image is a view of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. Rows of headstones mark the soldiers' graves. Visible in the left center background is a bronze figure of a Confederate soldier standing atop a stone arch. The cemetery is located in a residential neighborhood.
Organized in 1861, Camp Chase initially replaced Camp Jackson, located near Columbus, as a recruitment and training center for the Union Army. The facility was named after Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln and former governor of Ohio. However, Camp Chase became a prisoner-of-war camp early in the war. The first inmates at Camp Chase were chiefly political and military prisoners from Kentucky and Western Virginia allegedly loyal to the Confederacy.
Union victories at Fort Donaldson, Tennessee, on Feb. 16, 1862, and at Mississippi River Island No. 10, on April 8, 1862, brought an influx of Confederate prisoners to Camp Chase, most of whom were enlisted men and non-commissioned officers. During 1863 the prison population at Camp Chase numbered 8,000 men, its peak. Like many prisons in the north, Camp Chase was ravaged by disease; during late 1864, a smallpox epidemic resulted in many deaths. During the course of the Civil War, more than two thousand Confederate prisoners died at Camp Chase.
Initially, prison officials buried dead prisoners in a Columbus city cemetery. In 1863, however, the prison established its own cemetery. Remains were reinterred in the prison cemetery after its opening. Following the war, thirty-one Confederate bodies from Camp Dennison near Cincinnati were moved to the Camp Chase cemetery.
The Union military closed Camp Chase at the end of the Civil War. Efforts to mark the graves of the Confederate dead within the cemetery began by the mid-1890s. Led by William H. Knauss, a wounded Union Army veteran, this movement succeeded in bringing together both Union and Confederate veterans’ organizations to pay tribute to those interred in the cemetery. Memorial services have been held at the cemetery every year since 1896. On June 7, 1902, a monument to the Confederate dead was erected at the cemetery. In 1904, Congress allocated funds for the maintenance of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.
Most of what remains of Camp Chase today includes two acres of land, consisting primarily of the Confederate cemetery. Officially, the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery contains an estimated 2,168 remains in 2,122 graves.
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery has two monuments. The first depicts a bronze figure of a Confederate Civil War soldier standing atop a granite arch, his rifle held vertically in front of him, with both hands resting on the top of the barrel. Originally the memorial consisted of a wooden arch inscribed with the word “AMERICANS,” but in 1902 the wooden arch was replaced with this 17' tall stone memorial. The second monument is a 3-foot-tall boulder underneath the stone arch. Installed in 1897, the boulder bears an inscription that reads: "2260 Confederate Soldiers of the war 1861-1865 buried in this enclosure." (This statistic disagrees with the official record.)
The Camp Chase site, including the Confederate Cemetery, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL06659 Subjects
: Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery (Columbus, Ohio); Camp Chase (Ohio); Civil War; Cemeteries--Ohio; Civil War--Prisoners and prisons; National Register of Historic Places Places
: Columbus (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio)