By Roger Pickenpaugh
Camp Chase used to be a massive Union POW camp and likewise served at a variety of occasions as a Union army education facility and as quarters for Union infantrymen who were taken prisoner by way of the Confederacy and published on parole or exchanged. As such, this cautious, thorough, and target exam of the historical past and management of the camp might be of real value within the literature at the Civil battle.
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Additional resources for Camp Chase and the Evolution of Union Prison Policy
Unsure what to do with them, Dennison sought the advice of Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s secretary of war. Some of the prisoners, the governor explained, were charged with such serious crimes as rape or murder. Should they be turned over to authorities of their home states, Dennison wondered, or tried in Columbus by courts-martial? ” Dennison asked for guidance on whether to hand them over to the federal courts or detain them as prisoners of war. ” Dennison sent a list of prisoners and allegations to the secretary, asking for advice in each individual case.
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.
The unfortunate sentry was released from conﬁnement. More serious was the November 15 report that several German-born guards could not understand English well enough to be certain of their duties. Those who could be certain often found ways to avoid performing them. Writing to his wife in March 1862, Thomas M. m. 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.