Camp Douglas, Where Ten
Per Cent of the Prisoners Died One Month
In February, 1863, out of 3,884 prisoners, 387 died at
Camp Douglas in Chicago, or almost exactly ten per cent mortality rate for
one month not reached by any other large prison during the war. The camp was
on low ground, the drainage bad, and conditions generally were unsanitary.
Its abandonment as a prison urged by President H. W. Bellows of the Sanitary
Commission. It is hard for us to realize, as we look at this group of
apparently hale and hearty young men, how great a toll death took by reason
of the ignorance or indifference of their keepers. It was no contemplated
part of the war to allow such things to happen, but those in charge of the
prisoners were often hampered by lack of appropriations and delay in
delivering supplies. The question of the proper feeding and adequate housing
of prisoners in sanitary surroundings remained unsolved by either side until
the close of the protracted conflict.