Camp Ford Confederate Guards

Camp Ford Confederate Guards (HM14W2)

Location: Tyler, TX 75708 Smith County
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Country: United States of America
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N 32° 23.78', W 95° 16.102'

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???The initial guards at the camp were local militia commanded by a regular officer, Captain S.M. Warner. With the arrival of the Fordoche prisoners in October 1863, their numbers were inadequate, and an independent Cavalry company, the Walter P. Lang Rangers were rushed from Shreveport to assist in controlling the prisoners. Along with them came Col. R.T.P. Allen of the 17th Texas Infantry, who had been recovering from wounds he recieved in July. Allen was a West Pointer, and was noted for his kind treatment of his charges. One private of the Lane Rangers remarked that if Allen had spent some time at Camp Douglass in the north, he would not be so well disposed to his prisoners. Allen's wife was also kindly disposed to the prisoners, and was referred to as "mother Allen." A poem extolling her virtues was published in The Old Flag. With the removal of the enlisted men to Shreveport in late November, the militia and the Rangers could adequately guard their charges.

???With the massive influx of prisoners in April and May, the existing guards were no longer sufficient. In late May, a large contingent of Anderson's Texas Cavalry arrived. Allen was relieved by Lt. Col. T. Scott Anderson of the regiment. Anderson's Adjutant was Lt. B.W. McEachern, a serious gambler, who would go into the stockade and play "Keno" with the prisoners. On one occasion, while intense on the game, prisoners stole his pistol. Only the stoppage of rations resulted in the return of the pistols, and thereafter, McEachern was reviled by the name "Keno"

???Many of the men of this regiment were not happy at being assigned to prison duty, and in late July, a mass desertion occurred with more than a hundred men of the regiment leaving. Even some of the troops dispatched to bring them back deserted. This created a panic and new troops were rushed to Tyler to guard the prisoners. Anderson was relieved by Col. J.P. Borders, who was in turn relieved by Col. George Sweet, 15th Texas Cavalry. In October Col. J.P. Bradfute arrived to take command of the post of Tyler which placed him in control of the Camp commandant.

???Bradfute would remain in this position until war's end. The guard consisted of Sweet's regiment, Col. Reuben R. Brown's 35th Texas Cavalry, and various battalions of the Reserve Corps, generally men over 45. During this period the guards erected rather substantial quarters on the east side of the stockade, with soldiers selling their quarters to new troops when transfers occurred

???Even though Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, events continued in the west, with some thought being given to continuing the war in Texas. By mid May it was apparent that further resistance was futile and by May 19, most of the guards at the Camp had simply gone home.

???Guarding prisoners was an extremely boring task that was not liked by the rank and file. Men had to stand 12 hour shifts no matter what the weather. There were some unprovoked shootings. The first occur in November 1863 when militiaman Frank Smith shot private Thomas Moorehead of the 19th Iowa. Col. Allen convened a court of inquiry and placed Federal officers on the panel.
?At least five other fatal shootings occurred, all of which were deemed unjustified. The prisoners thought that a guard recieved furlough if they shot a prisoner, but such was not the case.
???The harshness of treatment of the prisoners depended upon the temperament of the guards. The Fordoche prisoners were under the charge of Captain A.M. Alford of Harrison's Louisiana cavalry battalion on their march to Camp Ford in October 1863. A number of accounts reflect that he used a rope to drag stragglers behind his horse and that he would ride his horse into streams to deliberately muddy the prisoner's source of water. However other groups of prisoners were not so strictly controlled in their trek to and from Tyler, and some officers were even allowed to hire private conveyances in which to ride.

???Hounds were used to track escapees, and this was universally resented by the inmates as violating "the rules of war." Some officers like Borders were harsh and meted out punishments of "bucking and gagging, " or hanging men by their thumbs. However, this was the exception, and as one prisoner wrote "the Rebels... did for the prisoners all that was possible with the means in their power, and treated them as well as prisoners could expect to be treated."
HM NumberHM14W2
Placed BySmith County Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 13th, 2014 at 6:18am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 286643 N 3586631
Decimal Degrees32.39633333, -95.26836667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 32° 23.78', W 95° 16.102'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds32° 23' 46.80" N, 95° 16' 6.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)903
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4051 N Northeast 323 Loop, Tyler TX 75708, US
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