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Elmira in Chemung County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865

 
 
Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
1. Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker
Inscription.
This was the site of Elmira Prison Camp, established in 1864 to hold Confederate prisoners of the Civil War. When the war started in 1861, it was Barracks No. 3 of the Upstate Draft Rendezvous where Union soldiers were housed and trained. It was converted into a prison camp in 1864.

The 30-acre compound had a 12-foot stockade fence, with each about 100 feet long. The camp extended along the south side of West Water Street from Hoffman Creek to beyond Foster Avenue and ran south past Foster's Pond.

The camp opened July 6, 1864, when 399 Confederate prisoners arrived in Elmira on the Erie Railroad. In all, 12,123 prisoners were assigned to the camp. Death claimed 2,963 of these soldiers. The poor physical condition of the prisoners, plus an unusually severe winter and sanitary problems of overcrowding, caused the unusually high death rate. The Confederate dead are buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery a mile north of this site.

Seventeen men escaped from this camp, 10 of whom made the "great tunnel escape" October 7.

The camp officially closed July 10, 1865.

Two marble markers on West Water Street show the east and west boundaries of the camp. They are in the yards of 641 and 811 West Water Street.

Sergeant Benny Benson of Company A, Sharpshooters, 1st South Carolina
Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Original Flagpole Location Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
2. Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Original Flagpole Location Marker
volunteers, was among the ten Confederates who made the famous Tunnel Escape from Elmira Prison Camp October 7, 1864. He made his way through Canton, Williamsport, Harrisburg, and Baltimore, and on to his old regiment at Richmond, Virginia.

John W. Jones (1817-1900), sexton of Woodlawn Cemetery, was in charge of the burial of Confederate soldiers who died at Elmira Prison Camp. Born in slavery on a plantation near Leesburg, Va., he fled north via the Underground Railroad, reaching Elmira in 1844. Jones Court housing project is named in honor of Jones, who kept a record of name, rank, regiment, date of death of every Confederate.

Elmira Military Rendezvous
Elmira was the main artery of upstate New York in the flow of Union soldiers to Civil War battlefronts. Owing to its railroad network, Elmira was designated as one of the state's three military depots on June 30, 1861, by Gov. Morgan. Two years after the war began, conscription was decreed and Elmira became the draft rendezvous for upstate New York.

The first call for troops came on April 15, 1861. Company K of the 23rd Regiment, N.Y.V. was raised. Other "home" regiments were the 107th and 141st.

(Right Side photo captions):
Barracks No. 1 of the Elmira Military Rendezvous was between Lake Street and Oak Street, south of East Washington Avenue. This photo was taken from
Elmira Prison Camp: Fosters Pond Looking West Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
3. Elmira Prison Camp: Fosters Pond Looking West
The medical staff went on to emphasize the problems with Foster's Pond..."This pond received the contents of the sinks and garbage of the camp until it became so offensive that vaults (sinks) were dug on the banks of the pond for sinks and the whole left a festering mass of corruption, impregnating the entire atmosphere of the camp with its pestilential odor, night and day...The pond remains green with putrescence, filling the air with its messengers of disease and death, the vaults (sinks) give out their sickly odors, and the hospitals are crowded with victims for the grave
below Harper Street, looking northeast. In foreground are long cordwood piles. Barracks No. 1 was surrounded by a 12-foot stockade. This site, called Arnot Field, was just north of old Parker Athletic Field.

Guard house at the main entrance to Elmira Prison Camp.

Government hospital of 1861-65 at northwest corner of Clinton and Davis Streets.
 
Location. 42° 4.945′ N, 76° 49.3′ W. Marker is in Elmira, New York, in Chemung County. Marker is at the intersection of Winsor Avenue and Hoffman Street, on the right when traveling east on Winsor Avenue. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elmira NY 14905, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Monument (a few steps from this marker); Elmira Prison Camp 1864-65 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Old Second Street Cemetery (approx. 0.8 miles away); Crystal Eastman (approx. 0.8 miles away); Spanish War Veterans (approx. 0.8 miles away); Medal of Honor Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away); Chemung County World War II Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away); Chemung County Korea and Vietnam Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away); Chemung County World War I Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away); AFL-CIO Veterans Monument (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Elmira.
 
Also see . . .
Left Section of the Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
4. Left Section of the Marker

1. Elmira Prison Camp. Photo tour of the prison site from Civil War Album. (Submitted on June 26, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Elmira Prison Camp. From the Chemung History website. Includes pages listing those buried in the cemetery. (Submitted on June 26, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Center of Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
5. Center of Marker
Right Side of Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
6. Right Side of Marker
Map of Prison Compound Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
7. Map of Prison Compound
Map Legend:
1. Main entrance
2. Officer's private entrance
3. Dead house, where bodies were prepared for burial
4. Officer of the day and guard tending main gate
5. Hospital barracks
6. Officer's tents
7. Commandant's office
8. Sutler's store
9. Mess house of the sixteen police sergeants
10. Sleeping quarters of the sixteen police sergeants
11. Tunnel outlet from Hospital 1
12. Unfinished tunnel under Hospital 2
13. House for guards when off duty
14. Officers' quarters
15. Colonel Moore's living quarters
16. Barracks of 16th V.C.R.
17. October 7 tunnel escape route
Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
8. Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker
Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Original Flagpole Location Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
9. Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Original Flagpole Location Marker
The flagpole was located in the back yard of a private residence.The owners of the house donated the flagpole to the City of Elmira and a plaque was placed at the original site, about 20 feet inside of the main gate on West Water Street, in 1992.
Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, September 20, 2015
10. Elmira Prison Camp 1864 - 1865 Marker
Winsor Street Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, May 30, 2010
11. Winsor Street
Where the prison once stood, today is a residential section of the town.
Elmira Prison Camp: Area of Fosters Pond Looking West Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, April 30, 2009
12. Elmira Prison Camp: Area of Fosters Pond Looking West
The "Dead House", was on the left side of this copse of trees. Close to 3,000 Confederates died here. March, 1865 held the highest death count for the camp. 491 prisoners died during this time. Each dead soldier had a small glass bottle placed in his armpit. A piece of paper with the soldiers information was placed in the bottle for further identification. John Jones, a runaway slave from Leesburg, Virginia and sexton of the Baptist Church in Elmira, was given the task of preparing the bodies for burial. He received $2.50 per burial
Elmira Prison Camp: Hospital Tents Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
13. Elmira Prison Camp: Hospital Tents
Hospital tents for prisoners with severe cases of diarrhea were placed between Foster's Pond and Chemung River
Elmira Prison Camp: Area of Smallpox Hospital Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
14. Elmira Prison Camp: Area of Smallpox Hospital
Area of small pox hospital. By December 1864, their miserable existence and fight for survival intensified. The frigid cold weather swept in and, with it, small pox, arrived. Within weeks, smallpox became an epidemic, which led to a smallpox camp established away from the prison
Elmira Prison Camp:Area of Commandants Office Photo, Click for full size
By Scott J. Payne, June 19, 2014
15. Elmira Prison Camp:Area of Commandants Office
Commandant's office and officer tents
Original Flag Pole for the Prison Camp Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, September 20, 2015
16. Original Flag Pole for the Prison Camp
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,996 times since then and 175 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on , by Scott J. Payne of Deposit, New York.   3. submitted on , by Scott J. Payne of Deposit, New York.   4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   9. submitted on , by Scott J. Payne of Deposit, New York.   10. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   11. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on , by Scott J. Payne of Deposit, New York.   16. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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