Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Onady's Uncle William, buried at Camp Morton in Indianapolis

William Randolph died March 23, 1862 at Indianapolis, and his remains were buried at Crown Hill Cemetery at Camp Morton.

Camp Morton was established at Indianapolis by Governor Morton of Indiana in response to the need to detain the numerous Confederate soldiers captured at Fort Donelson. The first group of prisoners arrived on February 22, 1862 with much fanfare, and a total of 3,700 prisoners would arrive over the next few days. Many of the prisoners arrived sick and in poor physical condition. In addition, typical of most prison facilities at that time, Camp Morton was unprepared for the large influx of prisoners. Medical care, food, and sanitary conditions were inadequate. The Indianapolis Journal, on March 4, 1862 described the health of the newly arrived prisoners as follows:

"Of the sick prisoners at the military prison and hospitals of this city, the greater proportion are Mississippians. Though some of the Tennesseans and Kentuckians are quite ill, their maladies are not so deep seated as those of the First, Fourth, and Twenty-Sixth Mississippi prisoners. These regiments were at Fort Henry, and at the time of the attack made upon it by Commodore Foote they retreated so rapidly that they left behind most of their baggage, including many articles of clothing much needed for their comfort. On arriving at Fort Donelson they were (thinly clad as they were) put at work immediately upon the fortifications, and were compelled to labor upon the trenches constantly. During the siege of the Fort, they lay in the ditches and rifle pits, day and night. Such exposure would produce disease in the ranks of the most able-bodied soldiers, but when incurred by men of feeble constitutions, the seeds of disease are so firmly planted that no medical skill can remove them. Of the latter class are those now in hospitals. Many are under eighteen years of age, and the large majority are persons of feeble constitution."

William was 22 years old when he died at Camp Morton. The dead prisoners were interred in a lot located next to the City Cemetery of Indianapolis. Weaver and Williams, an undertaker firm, furnished plain wooden coffins at $3.50 each. Upon burial, a wooden marker bearing a painted identification marker was placed at the head of each grave. In 1931, the prisoners buried at City Cemetery were exhumed and reburied at Crown Hill Cemetery in a mass grave in Section 32. In 1989, two Indianapolis police officers led an effort to have the graves of the Confederate prisoners of war marked, and William Randolph of Company G, 26th Mississippi Infantry was identified as one of the buried Confederate soldiers. Today, Crown Hill Cemetery is the third largest non-government cemetery in America.

The photo above is of Camp Mortion in 1864, a couple of years after William died. By then the POW camp had been well established with adequate housing. Photograph from Camp Morton website maintained at rootsweb.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mona, when Ron and I finally made it up to Ft. Donelson, TN in the fall of 2000,we visited the small church inside the Battleground Park and a beautifully kept cemetery with workers busy that morning. They talked with us about "who" was eligble to be buried inside this national cemetery and this may be a shocker to some people!

We were told that only descendants of Union Army soldiers were permitted burial in that cemetery, and this had always been the only people buried there. Since my maternal GGgrandfather 1st. Lt. George B. Dyer was a member of the James Creek Volunteers (1st Mississippi I believe)died at Ft. Donelson on Feb. 15, 1862, my curiosity about where he was buried was discussed with the employees working that day. I was told that he would be buried in the mass graves that bore no recognition as graves because when the war was over, the confederacy owned no property as a result of losing the war and thus there are no confederacy cemeteries anywhere in this country.

Beginning in the summer of 1952, we began visiting well known battlegrounds that would carry us as far northeast as Gettysburg - our visit to that park was cut short because on that day, President Eisenhower and his wife Mamie were at their farm which adjoined the "park".

When you have visited as many battlefields as we have over the years, one is amazed at how they ever had time to fight a war due to the miles and miles of rock walls about 24 inches tall were built from the Richmond, Petersburg, Lynchburg, Manassas wheat fields and cow pastures in the 1950's.

These civil war grounds have fended big money over the years as there were attempts to build theme parks, shopping malls and housing developments.

It's really hard to decide where the more fancy and elaborate statutes are located - are they at Shiloh, Ft. Donelson, all over Virginia and there are some huge statutes in the middle of cow pastures around Gettysburg surrounded by some mean looking bulls! I doubt that many people can get up "close and personal" to read what is etched on those monuments! Maybe the cattle are more protective than any "two legged" security can offer. . . .bettye