4,000 Ghosts Honored at Point Lookout Prisoner of War Cemetery
ST. MARY'S COUNTY - 10/13/2009
The Captain Vincent Camalier Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans along with the Point Lookout Prisoner of War Association held a Memorial service to honor the 4,000+ prisoners buried at the Confederate cemetery on Point Lookout on Saturday, Oct. 10.
According to Jim Dunbar, association head, the event held each year to honor the descendants of those Confederate soldiers that died at the Camp Hoffman prison. “There were probably close to 14 thousand men that died in the prison,” said Dunbar. “The monument has the names 3,300 men that died and we have gone through records and uncovered an additional 700 names that need to be honored.
The moving service included color guards, re-enactors and guest speakers. After the service the Confederate Memorial park next to the cemetery was opened for an all day event of celebration, living history, food and more speakers.
One of the speakers, H.K. Edgenton, a black Confederate activist who works to provide the ‘real truth’ as President of Southern Heritage 411, Inc. Edgenton gave an impressive, passionate speech to the audience as part of the ceremony designed to tell the facts from the perspective of hundreds of thousands of black people who love and support the south, its people, customs and history.
The prison – a facility for Confederate prisoners of war was built at Point Lookout on the tip of the peninsula at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. During the two years the camp was in operation from August 1863 to June 1865, the prison was jammed with inmates, easily overwhelming the camp’s capacity of 10 thousand. It is estimated that at any given time, the camp contained from 12 thousand and to 20 thousand prisoners. During its two years in operation, it is estimated that 50,000 military and civilians were held.
The camp was laid out in a series of streets and trenches designed to drain runoff. It was surrounded by a fourteen foot parapet wall. Prisoners lived sixteen or more to a tent and suffered from short rations and limited fire wood in winter. When the coffee ration was suspended for federal prisoners at Andersonville, the Point Lookout prisoner lost theirs as well.
The worst suffering came because the physical conditions. The ground was flat and sandy and at almost sea level so that was just above high tide, adding to the misery, including every imaginable weather extreme, from blazing heat to bone-chilling cold.