Camp Butler near Springfield, Illinois was a death camp for Southern prisoners in 1862 and 1863. With medical supplies almost nonexistent, malnutrition, dysentery, typhus and pneumonia ravaged the camp and in late 1862, over seven hundred Southern prisoners died in a smallpox epidemic.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Death and Robbery Await Prisoners
“At Arkansas Post, January 11, 1863 the whole command to which I was attached was captured, and we were all sent to [the Northern prison] Camp Butler, near Springfield, Illinois, where we were imprisoned for about three months.
The rigors of winter in that latitude, against which our thin Southern clothing afforded us insufficient protection, prostrated nearly all of us with diseases; but in a short time a supply of blankets and woolen clothing came to us from some ladies of Missouri and Arkansas, and improved our condition very much.
Prison life was rather monotonous; but there was occasionally a little stir among us produced by an exhibition of authority by a small fellow called Colonel [William F.] Lynch, who was our master.
On one occasion he had us rush out of the barracks and into line, and while one of his set of underlings were searching our sleeping places — for “spoons,” perhaps — another set were searching our persons for money. On another occasion a detail of us, including myself, were ordered out by this little tyrant to shovel snow out of his way — not out of ours.
And when we got on the [railroad] cars to leave the place, he sent men through each coach with orders to rob us of everything we had except what we had on our backs and one blanket apiece.”
(The Case of the South Against the North, Benjamin Franklin Grady, Edwards & Broughton, 1899, pp. x-xi)