Johnson’s Island

The United States Civil War was a horrible period in our history. The country was split, families were torn apart by their political differences and men were far away from their wives and children often to never return.

Slavery was a very big moral issue for the North but it was an economic issue for everyone, especially the South. The Southern States produced cotton which they exported to the North and other countries but England was their biggest foreign importer. The Northern States produced goods and supplies that were bought by the Southern States.

Additionally the North wanted to raise tariffs on imported goods to make them more expensive to buy so that goods produced in the North would seem more affordable. The South did not want tariffs to rise because their many purchases from England would become too expensive.

States Rights were also involved in that the South believed they had the right to determine their own practices, including slavery, and did not want to be dictated to by the North.

The Southern life style would also be in jeopardy if tariffs raised or slavery was abolished and the South wanted to preserve the way of life they had created.

The South seceded but after a long, bloody war ultimately failed due to the North having the advantage in resources, the National Treasury for funding and a much larger population to draw soldiers from. The South was at a disadvantage from the beginning and blockades causing exports to fall drastically effectively eliminating funding, along with no support from any foreign country spelled doom.

One aspect of this dreadful war that I have always found interesting is that many of the officers on both sides of this conflict attended West Point together having the same training for war maneuvers and having been pals at school. They knew each other well.

While visiting Northern Ohio I was surprised to discover Johnson’s Island on the shores of Sandusky Bay in Lake Erie. Captured Confederate Soldiers were brought here to serve in a prison camp in this scenic, serene place. The views are outstanding and the quiet all encompassing. Winters could be filled with extreme cold, snow and ice.P1100275

During its 40 months of operation about 10,000 prisoners were processed through this facility with the maximum number at any one time of 3,224. Many of those brought here were Confederate Officers.

200 Confederate Military remains are buried in the now preserved Johnson’s Island Cemetery.

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A statue of a Confederate Soldier erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1910 stands sentinel at one end of the cemetery.

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Many of the headstones are carved with the names, rank and date of passing of the individuals.

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 But on the far side of the grounds are many headstones merely marked “Unknown” and not always dated.

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A tribute plaque to Mary Patton Hudson also resides here as she was instrumental in aiding the purchase and erecting the monument of this memorable place.

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It is sobering to stand here and think of this history and of our countrymen from both sides who rest here and in other US States. As violence escalates around our land it seems we have not learned the lessons of this sad time in our growth as a nation.

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