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Elmira Civil War Prison Camp

Join us as we work to Re-Construct portions of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp Site

ELMIRA CIVIL WAR PRISON CAMP
July 1864—July 1865
Over 12,000 Confederate prisoners were housed in a camp suited for 5,000.
Due to overcrowding, bitter winter conditions, inadequate food, medicine, shelter, clothing, medical staff, and outbreaks of dysentery, pneumonia, and smallpox; these factors caused the deaths of 2,963 prisoners who were later buried at Woodlawn National Cemetery.

About The Elmira Civil War Prison Camp

Elmira Prison was a prisoner-of-war camp constructed by the Union Army in Elmira, New York, during the American Civil War to house captive Confederate soldiers.

The site was selected partially due to its proximity to the Erie Railway and the Northern Central Railway, which criss-crossed in the midst of the city, making it a prime location for a Union Army training and muster point early in the Civil War. Most of the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Union installation, known as Camp Rathbun, fell into disuse as the war progressed, but the camp's "Barracks #3" were converted into a military prison in the summer of 1864. The prison camp, in use from July 6, 1864, until the autumn of 1865, was dubbed "Hellmira" by its inmates. Towner's history of 1892 and maps from the period indicate the camp occupied an area running about 1,000 feet (300 m) west and approximately the same distance south of a location a couple of hundred feet west of Hoffman Street and about 35 feet south of Water Street, bordered on the south by Foster's Pond, on the north bank of the Chemung River.[1][2]:265

During the 15 months the site was used as a prisoner of war camp more than 12,100 Confederate soldiers were incarcerated there; of these, nearly 25% (2,963) died from a combination of malnutrition, continued exposure to harsh winter weather, and disease from the poor sanitary conditions on Foster's Pond combined with a lack of medical care. The camp's dead were prepared for burial and laid to rest by the sexton, an ex-slave named John W. Jones, at what is now Woodlawn National Cemetery. At the end of the war, each prisoner was required to take a loyalty oath and given a train ticket home. The last prisoner left the camp on September 27, 1865. The camp was then closed, demolished and converted to farm land.[3][1]

Woodlawn Cemetery, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the original prison camp site (bounded by West Hill, Bancroft, Davis, and Mary streets), was designated a National Cemetery in 1877. The prison camp site is a residential area today, and few of the city's residents are aware that the prison camp ever existed. However, there is a memorial at the site today.

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We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for checking out this project. We are very excited to be reconstructing such a relevant part of history, and are moving full steam ahead to get the real work underway. A major factor in determining the success of this campaign is funding and the availability of […]

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