Elmira, The Death Camp
Surrounded by an abundance of crops, medical supplies and doctors, untouched by the hand of war, Elmira, New York became known as a death camp for captured American patriots—rebels—as were Washington’s men.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Elmira, the Death Camp:
“Elmira Camp was a very sickly place. The death rate was much higher than in the army during active hostilities. About half of us Virginians—and I think three-quarters of all the Southerners—died here in eight to ten months. A large number of North and South Carolinians had been captured at a Fort on the North Carolina coast—hale, hearty looking fellows except that they were yellow from lying in the trenches.
These men crowded us very much at first, but in two or three weeks they were nearly all gone to the hospitals, and most of them died. The well water looked pure and good but was deadly poison to our men, thousands taking chronic diarrhea from which they died. We had smallpox almost all the time. One doctor there said he killed more Rebs than any soldier at the front.”
James Huffman, 10th Virginia Infantry:
(True Tales of the South at War, Clarence Poe, editor, UNC Press, 1961, page 147)