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Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Warner Robins, Georgia
P.O. Box 1823, Warner Robins, GA 31099 -

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Heritage Violation: Insult to Confederate POWs buried in Chicago, victims of barbaric cruelty at Camp Douglas

Those of you with Confederate ancestors in Alabama, Tennessee or Mississippi Confederate units or with ancestors who were POWs at Camp Douglas, Illinois, may be interested in several books written by my cousin James Pless.  You can get info on his books at his website: - The Roster lists the names of all the soldiers named on the brass plaques at the Confederate monument in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.  These books lead me to learn more about the terrible conditions at Camp Douglas.  Other printed references are listed at the bottom of this page.

Camp Douglas was worse than Andersonville...Confederate POWs were deprived of blankets, food and medicine out of cruelty and greed, and sometimes for punishment---NOT because federal guards didn't have the materials.  They often returned funds from their provisions budgets because they didn't want to spend it on food or clothing or blankets for "rebels."  Those residents of Chicago who threw food to Confederate soldiers or waved Confederate flags were routinely imprisoned and punished for "insulting National soldiers."  Torture and cruelty were the order of the day at Camp Douglas. The death rate of 10% per month was far greater at Camp Douglas than at Andersonville.  Yankee doctors called Camp Douglas an "extermination camp."

These sites list sources and documents some of the cruelty, deprivation and torture at Camp Douglas. || ||

Photo of the statue & monument  -

It's documented in US Congressional records that the federal policy was to allow Confederate POW deaths by starvation and exposure....this immoral and unconscionable practice was carried out at Camp Douglas. Through poor record-keeping and convenient amnesia, they account for only 3800 dead while other records prove that over 6000-7000 died there.  The monument plaques name almost 4300, the rest are unknowns.  Andersonville is now a National park while Camp Douglas is relatively the saying goes, "To the Victors go the silence."  Chicago likes to brag that they have the largest Confederate monument in the North...but they don't tell the whole story of the torture, cruelty and sadism practiced by the guards there.  And besides, it was Southerners--not yankees-- who lobbied and raised the money and placed the monument there in Oak Woods Cemetery 30 years after the war.

My gg-grandfather George Thomas Scroggins (1st AL Inf. Co.A) was a POW at Camp Douglas three times (exchanged in 1862 after the surrender of Island Number Ten and in 1863 after the surrender of Port Hudson, but held from Dec1864 until April1865 after capture at Nashville, TN), and his future father-in-law, my ggg-grandfather, Alvin Henderson, was in Co.G of the 34th AL Infantry . Numerous men from his unit and brigade were taken to Camp Douglas.  Many Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama Confederate units were incarcerated at Camp Douglas.  (Examples: )

Those who died at Camp Douglas were buried at Potters Field outside the POW Camp and later moved to Lincoln Park and later reinterred in a mass grave at Oak Woods Cemetery outside Chicago.  Less that two hundred feet away from this mass tomb (with nice statue and brass plates) is what's known as the UGLY ROCK....the Cenotaph of Oak Woods.

Th photo on this page URL below shows how close it is to the Confederate Monument

A cenotaph , by definition, memorializes someone who is not present or buried there.  There can be only one purpose behind placing this Ugly Rock, this INSULT, so close to such a hallowed monument:  Intimidation and cruelty.  In addition, the bodies of 12 federal guards are buried right beside the Confederate further intimidation and if these dead guards are going to keep the dead POWs from escaping their mass grave.  You can see the 12 guards' headstones in the photo link below.

The photo on this page below shows the gravestones of the unknown federal guards next to the Confederate tomb

Here's the Text that's inscribed on the Ugly Rock:
"Cenotaph - To those unknown heroic men, once resident in the Southern states, martyrs
for human freedom, who at the breaking out of the civil war refused to be
traitors to the Union; who, without moral or material support, stood alone
amoung ruthless enemies , and, after unspeakable suffering, either died at
their post of duty, or, abandoning home and possessions, sought refuge, and
scant bread for their families, among strangers at the North; to those pure
patriots who, without bounty, without pay, without pension, without honor,
went to their graves without recognition even by their country, this stone
is raised and inscribed, after thirty years waiting, by one of themselves,
an exiled abolitionist."

THIS PAGE has a photos of the Ugly Rock

Obviously, my first reaction upon reading that inscription was anger at the suggestion that my ancestors were "traitors"...but calling them "ruthless enemies" so near the site of such brazen cruelty and unnecessary death inflicted by these yankee guards is just too much.  The "martyrs for human freedom" is the standard BIG LIE that implies that the yankees were fighting to end slavery.  It's as if their guilt was so great, they had to demonize the Southerners to justify their cruelty to them...and so they found (or invented) a useful idiot, a former southerner who had fled the South, to speak these words...and they placed them in stone in the hope they could distract posterity from judging their barbaric acts of cruelty.  Almighty God knows their hearts, and these people have no doubt met their Creator for a frank and honest discussion of their deeds.  In any event, we the living should not allow such an injustice to stand without rebuke. 

In our correspondence, cousin James wrote:
"If the Ugly Rock burns you now, you will not rest so long as it remains within a few feet of that Glorious Confederate Mound. I hope that those six thousand boys do not know of how they are being trashed every moment of every day. There is not a politician who does not know about it in that state. Will they each and everyone be forever gutless? Can you for a moment envision such trashing being placed next to the Vietnam Memorial, or next to the Unknown Soldier? Is there anyone in this great nation that would stand for it? The ugly thing is not even on a grave to mark a loved one - it has only one purpose....."

Cousin James is right.  I want justice for these fallen soldiers!  These men were Confederate Veterans with the same rights and entitled to the same honors as US Veterans under US law (Public Law 85-425). This UGLY ROCK they call a "Cenotaph," if not busted into gravel, should be located elsewhere, at some other location relevant to federal soldiers or abolition, but not "IN THE FACE" of the dead Confederates and any family which may come to visit their tomb.  Cousin James has also suggested that these Confederate dead be relocated to a safer place in the South, where their tomb may be protected from such disrespect.  He notes that there are deep tire tracks around the tomb and other desecrations of the area and that every politician in Illinois is aware of it.

There are numerous Yankee graves here in the South but we have more respect for the dead than to place signs and markers by their graves to tell the story of their looting and pillaging and raping and murderous rampages through our beloved South.  We believe with all our hearts that THEY were wrong, they were immoral to carry out the war the way they did.  But we don't stoop to desecrating their graves and marking them with insulting signs.

One must defend some of the yankees in the area.  This account of "honor" for the dead is recorded on Joe Kelley's website

A black funeral-parlor owner learned that there were many Confederate remains (bones) left in the ground under his parking lot.  He flew a Confederate flag there until his death in 1996, to "honor the men, not the cause," he said.  I want to believe that if more people in Illinois (and anywhere in the US) knew about this insulting Cenotaph and the graves of guards----the same men who had so cruelly and intentionally killed so many Confederate POWs by starvation and exposure----they would agree that these insults should not be allowed to mar the monument to these brave Americans....and they would take action to correct this injustice. 

The UGLY ROCK must be moved!  The guards must be moved!  The ongoing desecrations to the monument area must be stopped!  And failing that, the Confederate soldiers' remains should be relocated to a protected location in the South.  Unfortunately, there are a growing number here in the South who equally disrespectful, but I think we can truthfully say that honoring Confederate soldiers, their Cause and their memory and preserving their final resting place will always be a higher priority in a location where their descendants are more numerous. Please feel free to repost this message in all appropriate groups and lists so that pressure is brought to bear on the powers that be in Chicago and Illinois. 

Please send to everyone on your address lists and, finally, please send suggestions on practical solutions to this issue.   The Douglas Memorial SCV Camp 1507 in the Chicago area  [ ] reports that they hold memorials every year but that they've had return fire (real bullets) from nearby neighborhoods when they fired a rifle salute (powder charges) at their memorial services.  The neighborhood is a dangerous place with prostitutes, winos and derelicts on every corner.  The political climate in Chicago is not sympathetic to these soldiers.
  Any local pressure might result in hassles for Camp 1507 or they may be prevented from holding their annual memorial services at Oak Woods.

What can legally be done to correct this injustice?

Respectfully submitted,
Steve Scroggins
Commander, Camp 1399
Warner Robins, GA

Printed References

For information, please write
Lt. James Woodward Camp 1399
PO Box 1823, Warner Robins, GA 31099
Contact Commander Steve Scroggins by email.

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