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[66] Fair Ground, which had been used during the fall and winter of 1861 and 1862 as barracks for a few Indiana troops. The Camp was turned into a prison to accommodate those captured in Forts Henry and Donelson, and what had formerly been sheds for horses and cattle or exhibition halls became barracks for prisoners. Apparently some of these barracks had no floors and during the winter could not be kept clean. The buildings were cheaply built, and the snow, wind, and rain came through. A part of the time fuel was insufficient. The enclosure was large, contained a number of trees, and the possibilities of drainage were good. During the first year the Camp was under control of the governor of Indiana, but afterward came under the supervision of Colonel Hoffman, the commissary-general of prisoners. In 1863, Colonel A. A. Stevens of the Invalid Corps became commandant of the prison, and under him conditions improved.

The prison at Rock Island stood on an island in the Mississippi River between the cities of Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. The island itself was about three miles long and half a mile wide. The construction of the prison was ordered in July, 1863, and on August 12th, the quartermaster-general instructed the builder that ‘ the barracks for prisoners on Rock Island should be put up in the roughest and cheapest manner, mere shanties, with no fine work about them.’ A high fence enclosed eighty-four barracks arranged in six rows of fourteen each. The barracks were eighty-two by twenty-two by twelve feet, with a cook-house at the end of each. The ventilation was poor, and only two stoves were placed in each of the barracks. The water supply was partly secured from an artesian well and partly from the river by means of a steam-pump, which frequently gave out for days at a time. Though the prison was not quite completed, over five thousand prisoners were sent during the month of December, 1863, and from that time on the prison usually contained from five thousand to eight thousand prisoners until the end of the war.

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