Monday, April 13, 2015

Camp Butler - Newport News, Virginia

In my previous post I introduced my third great-grandfather - Hachaliah McMath, Jr. (1840-1916) - and his experience specifically at the end of the Civil war as a prisoner of war. 

Context: Hachaliah McMath, Jr. is my 3rd great-grandfather on my father's maternal side of the family.

After his capture in Farmville, Virginia following the Battle of Saylor's Creek, McMath was transferred to City Point, VA (Grant's headquarters) and then on to Newport News, Virginia.  From what I can determine, the Newport News area was occupied by Union troops for a large portion of the war.  Camp Butler was heavily fortified, as seen in the lithograph below - from the "Civil War in Newport News" collection of the Newport News Public Library System:

Image Source
From what I understand, the Prisoner of War camp was created alongside of Camp Butler to accommodate excess Confederate soldiers captured toward the end of the war.  Essentially - the POW camp in Newport News served to solve an "overflow" of prisoners.  My relative only spent 2 short months at the POW camp until his oath of allegiance and eventual release. 

While this lithograph was created in 1861, it still gives a great overall impression of the look of Camp Butler in 1865.  Views possibly similar to those seen by my 3rd great-grandfather during his time as a POW.

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