“The North’s Andersonville”

Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois, sometimes described as “The North’s Andersonville,” was one of the largest Union Army prisoner-of-war camps for Confederate soldiers taken prisoner during the American Civil War. Based south of the city on the prairie, it was also used as a training and detention camp for Union soldiers. The Union Army first used the camp in 1861 as an organizational and training camp for volunteer regiments. It became a prisoner-of-war camp in early 1862. Later in 1862 the Union Army again used Camp Douglas as a training camp. In the fall of 1862, the Union Army used the facility as a detention camp for paroled Confederate prisoners (these were Union soldiers who had been captured by the Confederacy and sent North under an agreement that they would be held temporarily while formal prisoner exchanges were worked out).

Camp Douglas became a permanent prisoner-of-war camp from January 1863 to the end of the war in May 1865. In the summer and fall of 1865, the camp served as a mustering out point for Union Army volunteer regiments. The camp was dismantled and the movable property was sold off late in the year. The land was eventually sold-off and developed.

In the aftermath of the war, Camp Douglas eventually came to be noted for its poor conditions and death rate of about seventeen percent, although it is possible a higher rate occurred. Some 4,275 Confederate prisoners were known to be re-interred from the camp cemetery to a mass grave at Oak Woods Cemetery after the war.

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