Rock Island Prisoner of War Camp.

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Joined
Aug 25, 2012
I might be going to a military history convention at Rock Island, Illinois. Perhaps I should study up on the prisoner of war camp that housed Confederate prisoners there. Rock Island had a total of 12,400 Confederate prisoners of which 1,964 reportedly died.

To start off, I know that during the winter in that area it gets on the cold side. Were Confederate soldiers use to sub zero temperatures? It would have taken a prisoner a couple of weeks to adjust to sub zero weather. I am guessing many Confederates had never seen minus 20 degrees. One can assume that some prisoners found 30 degrees below zero crazy cold. Temperatures this low would discourage escapes during the winter. The 84 barracks had but two stoves each and the barracks would not have been real warm on cold days.
 

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
When I was in the military, we were instructed that it takes about two weeks for a healthy person to go through the acclimatization process to local weather. When the first Confederates arrived at Rock Island, it reportedly was 32 degrees below zero. Because they came from Camp Douglas, they should have already been acclimated to the local weather. Still minus 32 feels cold even to people acclimated to the cold.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
Absolutely this must have been a problem. As someone who transplanted to the North from a much warmer climate I found out about frostbite the hard way my first winter. In the same way I learned you never, ever put a slightly damp hand on a metal mailbox when it is five below. All these facts were second nature to my friends and I don't think it ever occurred to them to warn me of the dangers. That first winter I persisted in not dressing in enough layers to keep warm.
In the same way I don't think some Northern soldiers had a clue how to deal with heat and high humidity. I'm reading a diary now of a soldier from Detroit, Michigan who is stationed in Kentucky and writes on April 1, 1863 of the "brutal heat of the Southern summers" he is experiencing that day. I can't imagine how he is going to like August!
 

Iowa Miss

Private
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Location
NC Iowa
Book on Rock Island Prison-- Rebels at Rock Island: The Story of a Civil War Prison by Benton McAdams, Northern Illinois Press

Info on the cemetery for Confederate prisoners, with info pertaining to visiting the cemetery--https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/illinois/rock_island_confederate_cemetery.html

Website for Rock Island Preservation Society; has illustration from an early 1900's postcard of the camp
and further info--

http://www.rockislandpreservation.org/postcards-from-home/arsenal-confederate-prison-camp/

Find A Grave listing of burials with photos--

https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1977216/rock-island-confederate-cemetery
 

51st Georgia

Private
Joined
May 31, 2011
Location
Miami FL
GG Grandfather was there from Dec 63-May 65. He came from the disaster at Fort Sanders in Knoxville TN, so maybe the acclimatization was partial already. Please post whatever you can find out.
 

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
At this time I believe I will attend the military history convention at Rock Rock island next spring.
 
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