Civil War Re-Enactors Bring History to Life at Texas Prison Camp Site
The place north of Tyler is called Camp Ford. During the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression, as it’s remembered in these parts, it was one of many prisoner of war camps set up across the south by the Confederate Army.
Camp Ford was opened in 1862 as a Confederate Army training camp, but it soon started taking in captured Union prisoners-of-war. At it’s peak it had more than 6,000 prisoners.
Today Camp Ford is historical park where Civil War Re-Enactors and others gather every year to honor their ancestors on both sides of that war, with noisy and realistic but harmless skirmishes, demonstrations of period clothing, toys and firearms, and the firing of two cannons at the top of each hour.
This year’s event attracted more than 1,200 people from East Texas and other states, including Greg Wheeler of Tyler. A self-described lover of history, Wheeler says he was glad to see the re-enactors showing people what life looked like during the Civil War.
“We’re not trying to refight the war, but to honor our southern ancestors,” he said. “They didn’t get a lot of honor.”
One of the Union Re-Enactors — a man from Wisconsin — said he came all the way to Texas to be part of the event at Camp Ford because his great-great-great grandfather was a Union prisoner there.