Why Camp Douglas

“After … Boston Chicago was the main tool to make this war in the country.”

Abraham Lincoln, February 23, 1865

This statement made by Joseph Medill with a delegation of leaders of Chicago when discussing the military draft in 1865 is an example of the influence of Chicago and Illinois during the Civil War. They were not only the abolition of vocal representatives, but Chicago (1860 population 108,000) provided 17,000 of about 40,000 allied troops from the greater Chicago area. In Illinois 260000 soldiers in fourth place, the states, the troops joined the Union. Nearly 35,000 Illinois troops killed in the conflict is ranked third among all states.

Chicago was one of the largest producers, not only in manpower, but the war material, transportation and food for the Union cause. Impact of civil war on the growth and development of Chicago and Illinois can not be understated. Most of the population growth of Chicago almost 300,000 by 1870 can be attributed to the war effort.

Camp Douglas, which was located on the near south side of Chicago, was one of the most important Union Civil War camps. Operating from 1861 to1865, its reconstruction and preservation of well serve to preserve the history of Chicago during this important period of American history.

Camp Douglas was distinguished by the following facts:

  • The oldest and largest alliance military camp in the Chicago area
  • Consisted of more than 200 buildings on 60 acres of land
  • Housed and trained more than 25,000 Allied troops
  • One of the 8 allied camps to prepare African American Union soldiers
  • Was the center of many camps located five miles south and two miles west of the camp
  • One of the longest continuous operating camps in the Civil War
  • 30,000 total prisoners were held and 12100 were the prisoners at one time
  • The greatest number of deaths of prisoners in any prison Union

Since Camp Douglas was demolished in 1865, there was little recognition of its existence. Currently small plaques in the parking shutters Griffin Funeral and its boundaries are noted on the sidewalk map of the area in the 35th and ML King Drive is the only state identification camp. Confederate Monument in the oak woodland cemetery, five miles south of the camp, there is only evidence of prisoners being held at Camp Douglas.

Bronzeville community is rapidly becoming a significant historical place in Chicago. In addition to the existing Stephen A. Douglas monument and renovated Old Soldier, plans were developed for the military museum in the nearby 80th Regiment Armory Museum in memory of the Black migration in Chicago near the site of Camp Douglas.

Almost all of Camp Douglas is developing Lake Meadows owned Chicago developers Draper and Kramer. Draper and Kramer’s redevelopment plans, which include an increase in population density and the creation of additional retail space. This plan will significantly reduce the current open space on the center. Restructuring offers a unique opportunity for private developers cooperation with the community to ensure long tribute to those who served or were prisoners in Camp Douglas, as well as a celebration of the contribution of African Americans in the Civil War.

Camp Douglas is an important part of the history of Chicago, Illinois, and our people. Now is the time to take action to preserve this important piece of history. After the reconstruction, it is likely that any opportunity for a meaningful tribute to Camp Douglas will be lost forever.

Now is the time to act.

Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation.