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Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library
Submitted Information - Confederate Veteran:
Confederate Dead at Elmira Prison

[The following document comes from the Confederate Veteran, a magazine published throughout the South from the 1890s until the 1940s. It comes from Volume XXII, which contains writings from the year 1914, page 396.]

By Ms. Sussie Gentry

How many Southern people know that in the State of New York there are buried 2,917 Confederate soldiers in a cemetery of two and one-half acres that should be enclosed with a fence and memorial gate?

In 1864 the United States government located at Elmira N.Y., a prison camp for Confederate soldiers, and until the close of the war it was retained as such, many of the prisoners being transferred from Point Lookout, Md.

The mortality at the Elmira prison camp was very great on account of climatic conditions. The prisoners were in a low physical condition from fighting and poor and insufficient nourishment. They died rapidly and were buried in a part of the city's large cemetery and, strange to say, by an ex-slave, John W. Jones, who had escaped from the Elzey family, of Leesburg, Va., by the "underground railroad" in 1850. In some way this Negro became interested in the Confederate prisoners and buried the first who died, then the next, and the next, until he was employed to bury them all; and, at the government's expense, he had nicely painted headboards put up, on which were the name, company, regiment, and State.

In 1877 the government purchased the two-and-a-half acre plot, in which there were thirty-six rows of graves, at a cost of $1,500. Headstones replaced the wooden boards, and the name of "Woodlawn Cemetery" was given to this place. For forty-eight years the good people of Elmira have yearly decorated the graves of the Confederate dead as they have their own, but the cemetery needs a fence and memorial gate to make it entirely complete. A list of the dead has been kept, alphabetically arranged as to names, but irrespective of States.

The following is the result of my research and labor: