Point Lookout Prison

  • American Civil War
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

Located in St. Mary's County, Maryland – Point Lookout had a long history prior to being an infamous military Prison for captured Confederate soldiers. Discovered by famed English Explorer and Soldier, Captain John Smith in 1608 – the land mass juts out into the crossings of The Potomac and Patuxent Rivers. It is not a large piece of real estate (at only 1,078 acres total). Still Captain Smith saw the military advantage in the location as an “observation Post”. Hence it's name of “Point Lookout”. The British also saw it's importance during The American Revolution. They raided Point Lookout regularly during The War. After the start of The Civil War in 1862, The US Army had constructed a bustling Port and storage facilities at Point Lookout.


It was determined (due to it's remoteness), that Point Lookout would be an excellent location to contain the growing amount of captured Confederate prisoners. A massive wooden Stockade was constructed around the small land mass. With only interior structures designed to hold 10,000 prisoners – Point Lookout quickly swelled to 20,000 captured soldiers. Old tents were brought in as “temporary shelter”. Muddy grounds, freezing cold (at night and sweltering heat during the day), Point Lookout became one of the largest (and worst) Union War Camps. No medical care, poor to little food, - all lead to high death rates. Many soldiers did not have blankets to keep warm.


When Rebel soldiers died, Union Guards had the “living” prisoners simply dump the dead into mass grave sites. It is estimated that one such mass grave currently contains almost 4,000 Confederate dead. A Memorial was erected by The US Government in 1925 in honor of these dead prisoners. Point Lookout Cemetery is also one of the only US National Cemeteries to allow the flying of The Confederate Flag (next to The US Flag). Due to erosion of the Coastline after The War, all of Point Lookout Prison has been obliterated.