|Confederate Mound, Oak Wood Cemetery, Illinois|
photographer: John Delano of Hammond, Indiana
Josiah Gresham Camp left Georgia at the age 21, off to seek a better life in the state of Texas. He seemed to have found life to his suiting, as he expressed in a letter home. But no one lives in a vacuum, especially in 1861 as the country was divided by the question of slavery and heading toward a civil war. In 1861 Josiah found his life heading on a different path.
In a letter written to his sister-in-law Mary Camp in May of 1861, Josiah wrote of the excitement talk of the war was causing in Texas. He assured his family "as to myself, I have joined no company yet as there [is] excitement and so many … reports flying that I am not going to quit my business upon an uncertainty as many have done here. But when there comes straight news that we are seceded, I am ready."(1)
Documents in Josiah Gresham Camp's military records found on fold3.com revealed just how different life became from what my third great uncle had envisioned. On 10 Sep 1861, Josiah enlisted in Company C of the 7th Texas Volunteers, CSA. Interestingly, he was sworn into active duty by his older brother, Capt Raleigh Sparks Camp the company commander, and given the rank of 1st Corporal soon after he enlisted.
|Josiah G Camp, military record packet|
|Receipt for personal shotgun. Josiah G Camp, military record packet|
In one of those historical twists of fate, Raleigh Sparks Camp had left the 7th Texas Volunteers and joined the 40th Georgia Infantry by the time of the Battle of Fort Donelson. The 7th Texas Volunteers, lead by Col. John Gregg, were part of Col. John M. Simonton's Brigade. They, in turn, were in Gen. Gideon Pillow's Division during the Battle of Fort Donelson.(3) The fighting at Fort Donelson ended with the surrender of Confederate troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, making POWs of all the rebel soldiers who were not otherwise able to escape from the area.
A soldier from Mississippi, Selden Spencer, wrote this in his journal concerning the surrender:
"So after four days hard fighting without rest & exposure to severe weather, having defeated the enemy in every engagement & signally on Saturday, with no hope of relief, exhausted, surrounded by four times our number, cut off from succor, we yielded to fate and were Prisoners of War."(2)This is probably how Josiah felt when he became one of the 15,000 Confederate POWs captured on 16 Feb 1862.(4)
Due to either injuries or illness, Josiah was later transferred to the Camp Douglas Hospital near Chicago. On 20 Mar 1862, Josiah died in the Camp Douglas prison hospital. At the time of Josiah's death, his brother Raleigh Camp had just been promoted to Major of the 40th Georgia Infantry.(5)
Josiah Gresham Camp was later buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. His burial is among those commerated by the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods, pictured above. He was one of over 6000 Confederate soldiers buried in what is "the largest Confederate burial ground in all of the North".(6)
(1) "Sister Dear," 21 May 1861; letter no. 13, Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877; Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia.
(2) Lundberg, John R. Granbury's Texas Brigade" Diehard Western Confederates. Baton Rogue, LA : Louisiana State University Press, 2012; portion accessed through Google Books.
(3) Cooling, Benjamin Franklin. Forts Henry and Donelson: the Key to the Confederate Heartland. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, c1987.
(4) "Civil War Timeline, Feb 16, 1862", Tennessee State Library and Archives,
(5) Georgia. State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1864, vol. 4. Hapeville, GA: Longine & Porter, 1949-1964.
(6) "Oak Wood Cemetery", http://graveyards.com/IL/Cook/oakwoods/confederate.html