polo club boca raton fl Elmira Civil War prison camp takes shape
Efforts to turn the one time location of Elmira’s Civil War prison camp into a historical site will be unveiled to the public next month.
A grand dedication of the site will be held June 24 during a weekend full of events for history enthusiasts, the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp announced Thursday.
Volunteers have worked since last summer to reconstruct a building that had been located at Barracks No. 3, a riverside camp where more than12,000 Confederate soldiers were incarcerated between July 6, 1864 and July 11, 1865.
Elmira Civil War Prison Camp building project to start
The prison camp earned the nickname “Hellmira” after nearly 3,000 prisoners died, a rate attributed to overcrowding, wintry conditions and shortages in clothing, food, shelter and medicine.
The reconstructed building, located behind the Elmira Water Board building on Winsor Avenue, will be relocated shortly to a roadside spot about 100 feet away. A wooden observation tower is also under construction, similar to one where visitors would pay to watch prisoners.
“With tremendous support and with your help, we have made a tremendous amount of progress,” said Marty Chalk, president of Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp. “If you look outside, you won’t see much, but in about 10 days, you’ll be shocked at what’s happening here.”
The group hopes to eventually have a museum and research library at the site. But for now, an event scheduled for June 24 and 25 dubbed “Barracks to Prison Pen: A Living History and Preservation Challenge” will provide the community with an education on the Elmira area’s military history through demonstrations, tours, ceremonies and speakers.
20 facts about Elmira Civil War prison camp
“Elmira was a large rendezvous. A little over 20,000 Union troops passed through Elmira, so it wasn’t just the prison camp,” said Douglas Oakes, the event’s co chair. “The main reason the camp was selected to be here was because the number of troops in the area had died down and they had all these empty camps.”
During the event, reenactors representing the first 400 Confederate soldiers to be jailed in Elmira will march from the Erie Railroad station on North Main Street where the initial prisoners were dropped off to the Winsor Avenue camp site. After processing, the soldiers will settle into their routines, staying in tents similar to those once located at the site.
Buy PhotoDouglas Oakes and Terri Olszowy of Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp discuss an upcoming event scheduled for June 24 25 during an announcement in Elmira. (Photo: Amanda Renko / Staff photo)
On Sunday, reenactors will march from the prison camp to Woodlawn National Ceremony, where a memorial ceremony will commence at noon.
There is no charge to attend the events, but donations are encouraged. The group also seeks volunteers to help prepare the site for June’s events.
“We’ve had scores and scores of volunteers who have helped us out to get where we are right now,” said Vice President John Trice.