Sunday, May 4, 2014

Elmira Prison Camp Sesquicentennial Living History Event May 3

Forgive me for being geeked out today. History has been a passion of mine since I was in middle school. (No need to tell you all exactly how many years ago that was. Suffice to say, my youngest child is now in middle school.) But not just history, local history. And Civil War history. It was like the perfect triumvirate of awesome yesterday when my family and I attended a living history event commemorating the Civil War prison camp's 150th anniversary along the banks of the Chemung River. 

A few quick facts about Elmira Prison Camp:
  • Called Hellmira by the Confederates imprisoned there.
  • From May 3, 1864 when barracks #3 were converted to house prisoners to July 1665 when the last prisoners were mustered out, 24 % of its population died.
  • disease, starvation, putrid water supply, exposure to extreme weather, and overcrowding are among causes of high death rate.
  • Highest death rate of any camp, North or South--even than Andersonville.
  • built to house 5,000 men, population swelled to 10,000 within weeks. 

bridge to Foster's Island--me in background
With this dramatic history, it seemed especially meaningful yesterday as the Chemung Living History Association came together with reenactors to present the event on Foster Pond near the actual campgrounds. 

fixin' tater soup

inspecting the troops before battle

Union soldiers fire first shots
Virginia Infantry answer the Union volley

Chaplain praying for dying soldier