Severe overcrowding


Camp Douglas, the Union prison camp in Chicago, Illinois, grew quickly and was poorly administered by a series of commandants. Prisoners accused several of cruelty. The camp had a maximum capacity of 6,000. But by 1864 it housed more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers as well as a few civilians suspected of sympathizing with the Confederacy or planning escapes. The official death count at Camp Douglas was 4,454. Some 1,500 men, however, were “unaccounted for.”

National Archives, War Department Collection of Confederate Records