The actual cemetery where CSA soldiers who died at Point Lookout Prison were buried has been lost to erosion. The former prison site is now on state park property.
"The monument to these dead list 3,384, but some of the prisoners claimed that several times that many died...some of them were buried in the sand on the beaches and storms and the tides covered their graves forever."....Robert E.T. Pogue "Yesterday in Old St. Mary's County"
Originally, the soldiers were buried in two cemeteries near the prison camp. The graves have been moved inland twice. When the shore eroded and remains started washing into the Chesapeake around 1869, the state of Maryland removed the remains to a more favorable site one-mile inland. Open graves from which the Confederate dead were removed a century ago are still discernible near the bay shore. After the transfer, the individual graves could not be identified. There is a somewhat grisly reason for this.
When the prisoners' remains were moved from Tanner's Creek to the present cemetery in 1870, they were moved by two black men, William Shorter and Yaret Hewlett. The skulls were put in one box, the arm bones in another and the leg bones in a third box. Bones were dropped and left in the road. Children while walking to school would pick them up, not knowing what they were and take them to class for show-n-tell.
The two men were paid in accordance with the number of skull bones. Frequently, after having had too much to drink, they would gamble with the skull bones as stakes...'Pt. Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates" pg. 198, by Edwin Beitzell.
All the remains were buried in a common grave. Maryland erected a 25 foot tall memorial (photo 2 and photo 5) at the cemetery in 1876. In 1910, Maryland asked the federal government to assume care of the burial site and, toward that end, passed an act relinquishing all right, title, and interest in the cemetery.
The Federal government erected an 85' towering obelisk monument which was the first monument to Confederate soldiers (Who were judged an enemy)! Huge bronze tablets circling this monument depict 3,384 names of those so far recorded (photo 4)
The Point Lookout Lighthouse was turned over to the State of Maryland in 2006 and is now open to visitors on select Saturdays April thru November from 10 am until 2 pm. There is no charge to enter the lighthouse, however standard park entrance fees apply (up to $6 per person in peak season; best times to go are April, October and November when the fee is a reasonable $3 per vehicle in-state and $4 per vehicle for out-of-state). The open house events are hosted by a non-profit preservation group, the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society(PLLPS). See www.PLLPS.org for more information about the open house schedule. The lighthouse is just amazing, although they are still working on fixing up the inside which is in pretty bad shape since no one has lived there since 1981. Volunteers are friendly and enthusiastic.
On your next camping expedition, my recommendation is Point Lookout State Park, in Scotland, MD.
Located in historic St. Mary's County, the park is delightful! Park Staff are friendly! There is even an HONOR system in place, after hours, if you need wood for your campfire, or ICE. Wood is $5 a bundle. Useful little firestarters (in plastic, cupcake cups) (they work!) are $.75 a piece.
A small shopping center is nearby, within a five minute drive, Ridge Supermarket. OK, it's not Giant Food, but it's useful and close to the park, and even sells beer/ wine/ liquor if that is your pleasure. Hardware store next to that, and tiny post office, in same area. There is a Food Lion, but it's a left turn, 12 miles away, at the Naval Base entrance, from Point Lookout State Park.
Civil War Museum is a class act! Unfortunately confined into a small area, but very well displayed! Loads of interesting information! Due to the parks' history as a Confederate Prison during the Civil War, it is especially-- compelling-- to visit the Museum.
Marquees located throughout the park truly give you a sense this is a place rich in history...great for a research project, with the kids, or just for your own history endeavor!
Lighthouse is enclosed in barbed wire fence; poor impression, but the reason? Vandals...Open for tours, on Saturday.
Fishing is abundant along the perimeter of the park. Bring a large umbrella and lots of sunscreen.
Mosquitos are abundant in summer, despite the fact the park sprays three times a week. Nasty little buggers. Deep Woods OFF bug deterrent, works very well.
Tent Campers: Hoffman's Loop (A) is the best. Hoffman's Loop (A) is a pet-friendly loop. Some tent sites have electric hook up.
There are only (6) Cabins, in Conoy Loop, (heat, air conditoning and electricity). Like most State Parks in Maryland, more cabins need to be built. That way, grandparents can come along, too; be comfortable, and experience the fun!
Very relaxing State Park...nice place to visit!
Point Lookout has a lighthouse cupola on top of a regular house. The lighthouse was white when we first saw it, but it has now been repainted in the original colors and is in the process of being listed in the National Historic Register. The lighthouse is said to be haunted.
The Point Lookout lighthouse is near the former site of a notorious Civil War Prison where many southerners were held after capture. There is also a lake, with a channel from the river, and beaches and various other recreational activities available. The most visible items from the water were the various antennae and other structures.
The lighthouse, which was built in 1830 was sold to the Navy in 1965 and the interior of the lighthouse was dismantled. The Navy put a tracking station on the land.
In 2004, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer got the funds relocate the Theodolite Tracking System from Point Lookout to a safer, more secure location so that the lighthouse can become part of the State Park and eventually be opened again to the public.
Point Lookout is probably best known as the location of a Union hospital and prison camp during the Civil War. My southern great grandfather was held prisoner here and my grand aunt told me stories about how he got lice there and she would pick nits out of his hair for him. A lot of the prisoners weren't so lucky as to go home to their families.
During the Civil War many negro slaves escaped from the south into northern Contraband Camps. Many of these were located near Union bases. The former slaves were hired to work for the Union Army and many here in Southern Maryland worked at the prisoner of war camp.
Located in Scotland, Maryland just a few miles north of Point Lookout you will find the Memorial to the men who died at the prisoner of war camp. This is the only monument to the veterans of the Confederate States to be found in the north. There are two monuments here. The one pictured here is the monument erected by the Federal goverment.
Less than a mile north of the Point Lookout Lighthouse is the site of the largest northern Civil War prisoner of war camp. The camp is located on Point Lookout between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. At the time of the camp the area was completely barren and isolated. The camp was set up after the Battle at Gettysburg. The camp was only in operation for two years from July 1863-June 1865. There were an estimate of over 52,000 prisoners held at the camp during its operation. Due to its location the prisoners were subject to extreme weather, there was a lack of food, clothing or fuel. With a complete lack of medical care approximately 3,000 prisoners died here over its two year history.
The area is said to be haunted to this day and many believe the hauntings at the lighthouse are related to this time period also.
I had read much about the Point Lookout Lighthouse before actually visiting here for the first time. I had not expected it to be in such a state of disrepair. The lighthouse is not your traditional tall tower like building. The lighthouse is beacon attached to the lighthouse keepers house. It now belongs to the Dept of the Navy and is closed to the public. The lighthouse is said to be haunted and there are many documented cases of supernatural activity at the lighthouse. The Discovery Channel came here to film a documentary on the hauntings in 1998. It has been reported that a ghost of a Civil War soldier has been seen at the lighthouse as well as that of a woman from the same period. She is thought to be the ghost of the first lighthouse keeper who lived here alone for its first thiry years. The lighthouse was officially opened in 1830.
The view of the Chesapeake Bay at Point Lookout is unsurpassed. Even on a clear day its almost impossible to see across to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay at Point Lookout. This is the Bay at its widest. Its almost like looking out into the Atlantic Ocean instead of an inland bay. Today there is a State Park at Point Lookout. There is an admission charge to enter. You will need to pay cash at the park entrance. If there is no park ranger on duty you will need to pick up a pass to display in your windshield and leave a payment in a numbered envelope at the deposit box at the gate.
Every Halloween the Friends of Point Lookout help put on the Ghost Walk. It is a walk through the park with reinactments of shipwrecks and at the prison, the fort, and the hospital. It could potentially be a little scary for young children, but there are always lots of children there. At the end, there are games and food at the recreation area.
Located next to the Federal memorial you will find the State of Marylands monument to the Confederate dead from the prisoner of war camp.
Fort Lincoln is an earthen Civil War fort. I haven't visited it, because it was a hot day, and I wanted to go to the museum instead. It is on the Potomac side of the point.