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Camp Ford (Confederate Prison)

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  • Pvt. / Corporal James Jefferson Maxwell, (USA) (1836 - 1864)
    Son of John Maxwell and Mahala Weddle Maxwell. Union Army solider. Served in Company B, 50th Regiment Indiana. Was captured, and later succumbed to disease at Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas. His grave has nev...
  • Sgt. Joseph Brooks, (USA) (1840 - 1864)
    Enlisted as a Private on July 7, 1862 at the age of 22. Joined Co. H, 18th Iowa Infantry Regiment on August 6, 1862. Promoted to 5th Sergeant on Novomber 16, 1863. Died as a prisoner of war on August 2...
  • Maj. General John Bankhead Magruder, (CSA) (1807 - 1871)
    Bankhead Magruder (May 1, 1807 – February 19, 1871) was a career military officer who served in the armies of three nations. He was a U.S. Army officer in the Mexican-American War, a Confederate genera...
  • Lt. Gen. (CSA), Edmund Kirby Smith (1824 - 1893)
    Edmund Kirby Smith (May 16, 1824 – March 28, 1893) was a career United States Army officer and educator. He served as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, notable for...
  • Frank Heinrich Beckmann, (USA) (1838 - 1888)
    Civil War Veteran; prisoner of War at Cahaba & Andersonville prisons; severe abdomen war wound at Pleasant Hill battle.National Archive pension records show that Frank signed his surname as "Beckmann" ...

Established in the spring of 1862 as a training camp for new Confederate recruits, the camp was named for Col. John Salmon Ford, a Texas Ranger and the Superintendent of Conscripts for the State of Texas. The first Union prisoners to arrive at camp Ford in August 1863 included officers captured in Brashear City Louisiana in June, and included naval personnel captured when the 'Queen Of The West' and the 'Diana' were seized by the Confederate Navy. The captives were initially held in the open, but a panic ensued in November 1863 when 800 new prisoners threatened a mass breakout. A military stockade enclosing 4 acres was soon erected.

With over 2,000 new prisoners taken in Louisiana on April 8 and 9 1864, at the battles of Mansfield, and Pleasant Hill, the stockade was quadrupled in size. Among those imprisoned there following these battles were 17 members of the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry, the only regiment from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to fight in the Union's 1864 Red River Campaign across Louisiana and the only regiment from the Keystone State to have men imprisoned at Camp Ford. With more prisoners captured in Arkansas, the prison's population peaked at about 5,000 in July 1864. The population was reduced by exchanges in July and October 1864, and again in February 1865. The last 1,761 prisoners were exchanged on May 22, 1865. The prison was the largest Confederate-run prison west of the Mississippi.

The original site of the camp stockade is now a public historic park, owned by Smith County, Texas, and managed by the Smith County Historical Society, a 501 non-profit organization founded in 1959 by individuals and business firms dedicated to discovering, collecting and preserving data, records and other items relating to the history of Smith County. The park contains a kiosk, paved trail, interpretive signage, a cabin reconstruction, and a picnic area. The camp is located on US Highway 271, .7 miles north of Loop 323 in Tyler, Texas. The geographical coordinates are: 32°23'44.13"N - 95°16'7.28"W


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