Exploring Camp Chase Cemetery

(Timelines Magazine) When visiting Columbus, Ohio, recently, and telling a friend there my destination, I was met with an incredulous stare and an immediate question: “You mean there’s a Confederate cemetery in Columbus?” “Oh, yes,” I replied, “and that’s where I’m headed.” It is perhaps a best-kept secret that not far from the downtown of this Ohio capitol city, there is a Confederate cemetery with the remains of more than 2,200 soldiers and civilians. Columbus was the site of a Union Civil War prison, Camp Chase, which during its operation saw more than 25,000 Confederate soldiers and sympathizers pass through its gates.

ORIGIN

Camp Chase, named for former Ohio Governor Salmon Chase who served as Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary, was originally established in May 1861 as a training camp for Ohio Union volunteers, as well as a muster and parole camp, replacing the smaller Camp Jackson. By June 1861, prisoners were being held – not just soldiers initially, but also Ohio, Kentucky, and western Virginia (now West Virginia) civilians suspected of secession sympathies, including judges, mayors, newspaper editors, sheriffs, court clerks, and legislators.

By February 1862 its purpose expanded further when 800 Confederate prisoners arrived along with some 75 African Americans.

This prison thus housed enlisted men, officers, and political prisoners (whose graves are marked “civilian”). Captured soldiers from western campaigns made up the largest group of prisoners, …

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