Camp Ford, Texas
The Largest Confederate Prison Camp West of the Mississippi River

Courtesy of William Bozic, Houston, TX and Webmaster

Camp Ford Panorama

March 2001 Photos courtesy of Webmaster
History of Camp Ford
Don Worth's 48th Ohio VVI Camp Ford Website
3. Texas beyond history: Camp Ford. University of Texas
4. Camp Ford Civil War Prison
5. Prisoners of War in Camp Ford Prison
6. Camp Ford - Tyler Texas :: Smith County Historical Society
7. Handbook of Texas Online: Camp Ford
8. Camp Ford Cemetery
9. Camp Ford:
10. Camp Ford: Wikipedia
More Links
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Photos this page courtesy of William Bozic

June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Sign
Located at the intersection of Loop 323 and Route 271.

June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Tourist Area
When we arrived on June 13, 2014. A car had just pulled out of the parking lot but we were alone for only a short time before a minivan arrived with California plates. The minivan was full of people who appeared to all be from the same family. Although we really did not intend to eavesdrop on their conversation, it was obvious they were related to one of the Union soldiers who was a prisoner of war the camp. Apparently they had driven directly from California to do some heritage tourism in Tyler, Texas, then to the site of their ancestor's military activities. Based on what they threw in the trash cans, we could tell they had patronize local restaurants and probably were going to patronize other local businesses. Food for thought...


June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Replica Entrance

June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Texas Monument


June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Smith County Historical Society Sign & Information
The Smith County Historical Society has made great strides in the interpretation of this site, as well as research into the conditions and people related to it. Books have been written and data collected. The visitor is encouraged to visit the historical society in Tyler and view their museum which holds artifacts from the POW Camp. There is no visitor center/museum on site and no artifacts are located at Camp Ford.


June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Texas Historical Marker

Text of marker
On this site during the Civil War was located Camp Ford, the largest prisoner of war compound for Union troops west of the Mississippi River. Named in honor of Col. John S. "Rip" Ford who originally established a training camp here in 1862. It was converted in the summer of 1863 to a prison camp. It first consisted of four to five acres enclosed by a stockade sixteen feet high. In the spring of 1864 following the Confederate victories at Mansfield, Louisiana and Mark's Mills, Arkansas, the enclosure was doubled to accommodate the large influx of prisoners. Approximately 4700 Federals were confined here during this period. This overcrowded condition was somewhat relieved through a series of prisoner of war exchanges between the North and the South. Union soldiers representing nearly one hundred different regiments plus sailors from gunboats and transports were confined here. In addition there were imprisoned Union sympathizers, spies and even Confederate deserters. The prisoners constructed their own shelters ranging from log huts and burrows called "shebangs" to brush arbors and tents made of blankets. A spring, located about 100 yards southwest of this marker, furnished an ample supply of good water. Their meager rations, essentially the same as that of their guards, usually consisted of beef and corn meal and were sometimes supplemented by vegetables purchased from nearby farms. Although escape attempts were frequent, very few were successful due to the long distance to Union lines and the difficulty in eluding the tracking hounds used by the Confederate guards. Even though conditions were primitive it compared favorably with the other Civil War prison camps. Camp Ford continued to serve as a prison until the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department in May, 1865. It was later destroyed by Federal occupation troops (Erected 1962).


June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Panel: Battles Where POW's Captured
This panel shows the locations of where the Union soldiers & sailors were captured. The visitor can quickly pinpoint the modern location of the capture and can easily locate the proximity to the camp.


June 2014 Enlarge Camp Ford Panel: African American POW's at Camp Ford
This panel is located in the replica main gate area. 27 African American Sailors were held at the camp. Their presence at the camp was different, as was their service. The US Navy operated under different prisoner exchange directives than the US Army and far fewer Confederate sailors were captured.

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