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Hart's Island Prisoner of War Camp

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Union 1865
Hart's Island, New York

In 1865, as the Civil War was ending, the Federal government used the Island as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers. Hart Island was a prisoner of war camp for four months in 1865. 3,413 captured Confederate soldiers were housed. 235 died. Their remains were relocated to Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn in 1941.

The final prison established by the Union was on Hart Island in New York City and it quickly evolved into the city's most horrible site. Located in Long Island Sound about twenty miles north of the city and just a few miles south of David's Island, Hart Island wasn't even used until April 1865, the month the Civil War came to an end. Within three weeks of its opening, 3,413 POWs are crammed into the post's tiny enclosed area Hart does not become completely cleared of prisoners until July. Within the four months of its operation, nearly 7 percent of all the camp's POWs died, mostly from illnesses brought with them, such as chronic diarrhea and pneumonia.

It, too, was nothing more than a concentration camp. The first POWs arrived on April 7 and were immediately placed into a stockade enclosure of about four acres. "Two thousand and twenty-nine prisoners of war were received," noted Henry W Wessells, the prison commandant. "They seem to be healthy with few exceptions, and tolerably well clothed ... The guard is entirely insufficient consisting of a small detachment sent with them from City Point. Three hundred and fifty effective men are required." …

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