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Camp Chase
Part of American Civil War prison camps
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Bird's eye view of Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio. LOC 73694505.jpg
Type Army Training Camp and Union Prison Camp
Site information
Owner U.S. Government
Controlled by Union Army
Open to
the public
Site history
In use 1861–1865
Demolished 1865-1867
Battles/wars American Civil War
Garrison information
Occupants Union soldiers, Confederate officer prisoners of war
Camp Chase Site
Camp chase 1.jpg
More than 2,200 Confederate graves are in the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery
Location 2900 Sullivant Ave., Columbus, Ohio
Area 1.4 acres (0.57 ha)
Built 1861
NRHP reference No. 73001434
Added to NRHP April 11, 1973

Camp Chase was a military staging and training camp established in Columbus, Ohio in May 1861 after the start of the American Civil War. It also included a large Union-operated prison camp for Confederate prisoners during the American Civil War.

The camp was closed and dismantled after the war and the site has been redeveloped for residential and commercial use, except for the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery, which contains 2,260 graves of Confederates who died in captivity both in Camp Chase and in Camp Dennison near Cincinnati. Camp Chase was located in what is now the Hilltop neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. Camp Chase is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Camp Chase was a Civil War camp established in May 1861, on land leased by the U.S. Government. It replaced the much smaller Camp Jackson. The main entrance was on the National Road 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Boundaries of the camp were present-day Broad Street (north), Hague Avenue (east), Sullivant Avenue (south), and near Westgate Avenue (west). Named for former Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, who was Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, it was a training camp for Ohio volunteer army soldiers, a parole camp, a muster outpost, and later a prisoner-of-war camp. The nearby Camp Thomas served as a similar base for the Regular Army.

Camp chase 2
Camp Chase Cemetery Monument.

As many as 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates from 1861–1865. By February 1865, over 9,400 men were held at the prison. More than 2,200 Confederates are buried in the Camp Chase Cemetery.

Four future presidents passed through Camp Chase with Union forces: Andrew Johnson, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and William McKinley. Early in the war, the prison section held a group of prominent western Virginia and Kentucky civilians suspected of actively supporting secession, including former three-term United States Congressman Richard Henry Stanton. The prison camp held Confederates captured during Morgan's Raid in 1863, including Col. Basil W. Duke.

The camp was closed in 1865, and by September 1867, dismantled buildings, usable items, and 450 patients from Tripler Military Hospital (also in Columbus) were transferred to the National Soldier's Home in Dayton. In 1895, former Union soldier William H. Knauss organized the first memorial service at the cemetery. In 1906 he published a history of the camp.

The Memorial Arch was dedicated in 1902. From 1912 to 1994, the United Daughters of the Confederacy held annual services to commemorate Confederate soldiers who had been held and died there. The Hilltop Historical Society now sponsors the event on the second Sunday in June.

The Lady in Gray

The Lady in Gray is purportedly an apparition that haunts Camp Chase Cemetery. The story goes that the ghost is looking for her lost love, and cannot find him in the cemetery. The woman is described as young, in her late teens or early twenties, dressed entirely in gray, and carrying a clean white handkerchief. The legend of the Lady in Gray dates back to just after the Civil War, when visitors to Camp Chase spotted the woman walking through the cemetery, trying to read the carved names on the marked grave markers. She was seen quite often for several years, before disappearing completely.

Camp Chase today

Aside from the Confederate Cemetery, the land that formerly housed Camp Chase has been redeveloped as a residential and commercial area known as Westgate. A corner stone to the camp is located in front of the Westgate #623 Masonic Temple, in a community in the Hilltop section of west Columbus. This development was built in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Camp Chase Site, including the cemetery, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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