Union Blacks, Rebel Prisoners Honored at Civil War Memorial
A memorial was dedicated Saturday at the former site of Camp Douglas, once a training camp for Union soldiers--many of them blacks--and later a prison where thousands of Confederate soldiers died.
More than a century later, just six miles from the glitzy boutiques and department stores along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, no trace remains of the camp.
The Heritage Memorial Wall honors the 6,000 Confederates who died in the prison camp of malnutrition, disease and exposure, and the thousands of Union soldiers who enlisted at the training camp, said Ernest A. Griffin, who financed the $20,000 monument.
Many soldiers from Camp Douglas are buried in mass graves at Oak Woods Cemetery, five miles away.
Griffin said Camp Douglas was the Union’s main training site for black soldiers, almost 200,000 of whom served in the Union army in a separate federal branch designated as the U.S. Colored Troops.
For Griffin, the 6-by-6-foot concrete memorial represents his “admiration for a grandfather who participated in a historic event.”
The grandfather was Pvt. Charles H. Griffin, a Civil War veteran who served in the 29th Regiment’s Company B of the U.S. Colored Infantry.
About 300 people, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, joined a motorcade and parade Saturday from Oak Woods Cemetery to the memorial, which features a fountain, Confederate and Union flags, other war memorabilia and the flags of each state that fought in the Civil War.
Daley presented Charles Griffin’s great-great-great-granddaughter, 14-year-old Suzanne Griffin, with a Civil War flag.