By Roger Pickenpaugh
Camp Chase was once a big Union POW camp and likewise served at a number of instances as a Union army education facility and as quarters for Union infantrymen who have been taken prisoner through the Confederacy and published on parole or exchanged. As such, this cautious, thorough, and aim exam of the background and management of the camp may be of precise value within the literature at the Civil struggle.
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Additional resources for Camp Chase and the Evolution of Union Prison Policy
It often appeared that inconsistency was the only consistent policy at the post. This did not always bode well for the prisoners, who were caught in the middle of the confusion. Despite the many reports of “license” allowed Confederate ofﬁcers, the vast majority of prisoners was kept conﬁned at the camp. As a parade of guards and commanders passed through, trying to develop coherent policies for the unprecedented number of prisoners arriving proved a daunting challenge. Whatever the motives of the Union ofﬁcials, the lack of a stable command structure virtually guaranteed that the conditions of the Confederate captives would fall far short of ideal.
In February 1862, camp ofﬁcials addressed a longstanding problem when they hired a local woman to wash the prisoners’ clothing. Governor Tod, signing his correspondence as “Governor and Commander in Chief,” continued to keep involved in the operations of the camp. ” Detailed descriptive lists of the prisoners were to be made without delay. Tod further ordered that the prisoners be divided into “conveniently sized messes” and that ofﬁcers and men be separated. The commander could permit family members to visit prisoners but only outside the prison area of the camp and under strict supervision.
Changing of the guard. ” Several noncommissioned ofﬁcers and privates of the relief detail could not be found. The ofﬁcer of the guard wrote down the names of those who failed to appear. 45 If the men were less than dedicated, their equipment was often less than desirable. ” On January 3, 1862, the ofﬁcer of the guard requested a lantern for the use of the sentinels. The request was repeated on March 22. ” The situation was so bad that the men often went to their own barracks after being relieved, rather than remaining in the nearby guardhouses as they were supposed to when they were off duty for only a short time.