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The largest prison camp run by the Union during the Civil War, Point Lookout served not only as a prisoner of war camp, but also as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers between 1862 and 1865. The prison camp at Point Lookout was well-known for its crowded and poor living conditions. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, and official documents from ordinary Union and Confederate soldiers who were stationed, treated, or imprisoned at Point Lookout, as well as other official records and documents written by officers and commanders in camp. There are also original copies of the Hammond Gazette, the newspaper for Hammond Hospital, and assorted newspaper clippings that document camp life and other news from the area during the Civil War.
This collection is open for research.
0.50 Linear Feet
The Point Lookout Collection covers the period from 1861 to 1922; the bulk of the materials date from 1861 to 1865. The collection consists of both personal and official papers including letters, photographs, diaries, newspapers, clippings, passes, and other official government documents related to the operations of the Hammond Hospital and the prison, and the lives of ordinary soldiers – both Union and Confederate – at Point Lookout.
Point Lookout is located at the southern end of the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. In 1862, a hospital was established for the Union under the direction of Captain L.C. Edwards, Assistant Quartermaster. It was called Hammond Hospital and completed in 1863. The hospital could hold 1400 patients. Patients arrived to the hospital aboard ships. Shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the federal government set up a prisoner of war camp nearby and Hammond Hospital also began treating sick and injured Confederate prisoners. Originally designed to hold 10,000 men, the camp housed men in old tents instead of in permanent barracks or other structures. The camp became extremely overcrowded and by June 1864 there were over 20,000 prisoners crowded into a space of about 1,000 square feet. The camp was known for its poor living conditions, especially in 1864 and 1865, and about 4,000 of the total 50,000 prisoners incarcerated in camp died (1). Southern Maryland was an area with strong Southern sympathies, further magnifying tensions in camp. Union soldiers worried about this issue, especially after U.S. Colored Troops were stationed there. The last prisoners were released from Point Lookout in July 1865 (2).
Endnotes: 1. National Park Service. "Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery Ridge, Maryland." http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/maryland/point_lookout_confederate_cemetery.html. Last accessed: October 1, 2015. 2. For more see Blondo, Richard A. “A View of Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates." OAH Magazine of History, vol. 8, No. 1, The Civil War (Fall, 1993), pp. 30-36.
This collection is organized as eleven series.
Collection was purchased in August 2014 from Michael J. Osborne Books. This purchase was made possible with generous funding from the Gordon S. Mackenzie Estate.
Materials were sorted into eleven series based on the individual creators of the documents. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and in acid-free boxes.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives