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Tyler in Smith County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Camp Ford Confederate Guards

 
 
Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, September 17, 2012
1. Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker
Inscription.    The initial guards at the camp were local militia commanded by a regular officer, Captain S.M. Warner. With the arrival of the Fordoche prisoners in October 1863, their numbers were inadequate, and an independent Cavalry company, the Walter P. Lang Rangers were rushed from Shreveport to assist in controlling the prisoners. Along with them came Col. R.T.P. Allen of the 17th Texas Infantry, who had been recovering from wounds he recieved in July. Allen was a West Pointer, and was noted for his kind treatment of his charges. One private of the Lane Rangers remarked that if Allen had spent some time at Camp Douglass in the north, he would not be so well disposed to his prisoners. Allen's wife was also kindly disposed to the prisoners, and was referred to as "mother Allen." A poem extolling her virtues was published in The Old Flag. With the removal of the enlisted men to Shreveport in late November, the militia and the Rangers could adequately guard their charges.

   With the massive influx of prisoners in April and May, the existing guards were no longer sufficient. In late May, a large contingent of Anderson's Texas Cavalry arrived. Allen was relieved by Lt. Col. T. Scott Anderson of the regiment. Anderson's Adjutant was Lt. B.W. McEachern, a serious gambler, who would
Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker image. Click for full size.
By Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, September 17, 2012
2. Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker
Militia at drill (l) and Union prisoners on the march (r)
go into the stockade and play "Keno" with the prisoners. On one occasion, while intense on the game, prisoners stole his pistol. Only the stoppage of rations resulted in the return of the pistols, and thereafter, McEachern was reviled by the name "Keno"

   Many of the men of this regiment were not happy at being assigned to prison duty, and in late July, a mass desertion occurred with more than a hundred men of the regiment leaving. Even some of the troops dispatched to bring them back deserted. This created a panic and new troops were rushed to Tyler to guard the prisoners. Anderson was relieved by Col. J.P. Borders, who was in turn relieved by Col. George Sweet, 15th Texas Cavalry. In October Col. J.P. Bradfute arrived to take command of the post of Tyler which placed him in control of the Camp commandant.

   Bradfute would remain in this position until war's end. The guard consisted of Sweet's regiment, Col. Reuben R. Brown's 35th Texas Cavalry, and various battalions of the Reserve Corps, generally men over 45. During this period the guards erected rather substantial quarters on the east side of the stockade, with soldiers selling their quarters to new troops when transfers occurred

   Even though Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, events continued in the west, with some thought being given to continuing the
Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, center image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, September 17, 2012
3. Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, center
war in Texas. By mid May it was apparent that further resistance was futile and by May 19, most of the guards at the Camp had simply gone home.

   Guarding prisoners was an extremely boring task that was not liked by the rank and file. Men had to stand 12 hour shifts no matter what the weather. There were some unprovoked shootings. The first occur in November 1863 when militiaman Frank Smith shot private Thomas Moorehead of the 19th Iowa. Col. Allen convened a court of inquiry and placed Federal officers on the panel.
 At least five other fatal shootings occurred, all of which were deemed unjustified. The prisoners thought that a guard recieved furlough if they shot a prisoner, but such was not the case.
   The harshness of treatment of the prisoners depended upon the temperament of the guards. The Fordoche prisoners were under the charge of Captain A.M. Alford of Harrison's Louisiana cavalry battalion on their march to Camp Ford in October 1863. A number of accounts reflect that he used a rope to drag stragglers behind his horse and that he would ride his horse into streams to deliberately muddy the prisoner's source of water. However other groups of prisoners were not so strictly controlled in their trek to and from Tyler, and some officers were even allowed to hire private conveyances in which to ride.

Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, List of Union Regiments at Camp Ford image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, September 17, 2012
4. Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, List of Union Regiments at Camp Ford
   Hounds were used to track escapees, and this was universally resented by the inmates as violating "the rules of war." Some officers like Borders were harsh and meted out punishments of "bucking and gagging, " or hanging men by their thumbs. However, this was the exception, and as one prisoner wrote "the Rebels... did for the prisoners all that was possible with the means in their power, and treated them as well as prisoners could expect to be treated."
 
Erected by Smith County Historical Society.
 
Location. 32° 23.78′ N, 95° 16.102′ W. Marker is in Tyler, Texas, in Smith County. Marker is on U.S. 271 near Loop State Highway 323, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tyler TX 75702, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Camp Ford - Establishment of the Camp (here, next to this marker); Camp Ford - Early Days as a Prison Camp (here, next to this marker); African Americans at Camp Ford (here, next to this marker); Camp Ford - Prisoners from Louisiana (here, next to this marker); Camp Ford - Naval Prisoners (here, next
Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, List of Union Regiments at Camp Ford - Contd.- image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, September 17, 2012
5. Camp Ford Confederate Guards Marker, List of Union Regiments at Camp Ford - Contd.-
to this marker); Cabin of Lt. Col. J.B. Leake (within shouting distance of this marker); Camp Ford (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Camp Ford (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tyler.
 
Regarding Camp Ford Confederate Guards. Camp Ford was the largest Confederate Prisoner of War Camp west of the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. Established in August of 1863, the camp was not closed until May 19, 1865. At its peak in July 1864, over 5,300 prisoners were detained there. (Smith County Historical Society)
 
Additional comments.
1. Fordoche
At least two American Civil War battles were fought in and around Fordoche, in Louisiana . The Battle of Fordoche Bridge was fought in September 1863. Union troops were sent to prevent the Confederacy from operating in the upper Atchafalaya but the Confederates were successful in driving back the Union forces.
In May 1864, the Confederates were again victorious over the Union troops at the "Skirmish on Bayou Fordoche Road".
    — Submitted October 10, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.

 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 21, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 9, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 319 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 9, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   4, 5. submitted on November 5, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.
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