With the Civil War’s outbreak, both the North and the South were ill prepared for the conflict. Ohio Governor William Dennison hoped to utilize the state’s militia forces to assist President Abraham Lincoln in reuniting the nation.
With the Civil War’s outbreak, both the North and the South were ill prepared for the conflict. Ohio Governor William Dennison hoped to utilize the state’s militia forces to assist President Abraham Lincoln in reuniting the nation. Unfortunately for Dennison, many of Ohio’s militia units were no longer in existence. Those units that continued to operate were primarily social organizations that rarely practiced military maneuvers. Following the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1861, President Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers to subdue the Confederate States of America. Despite the lack of a well-trained militia, Governor Dennison beseeched communities to send their militia companies to Columbus, Ohio for possible use by the North during the American Civil War.
To process Ohio’s volunteers, Governor Dennison ordered the creation of Camp Jackson at Columbus. To help speed soldiers’ inductions into Ohio’s military, Dennison soon authorized the establishment of other camps across the state, including Camp Dennison in Germany, seventeen miles north of Cincinnati, Ohio. Named for Governor Dennison, the camp included approximately five hundred acres of land near the Little Miami River and the Little Miami Railroad. The river and railroad line allowed authorities to ship volunteers and supplies to the camp quickly and easily. General George McClellan authorized the camp’s location, and Colonel William Rosecrans oversaw the camp’s construction, including barracks that would house a grand total of fifty thousand men over the course of the Civil War and a hospital that provided care to at least 2,300 wounded or ill soldiers. Camp Dennison also included a small prisoner of war camp. Most prisoners remained at Camp Dennison for only a brief time, before Northern authorities sent them to other prisoner of war installations located at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio or to Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie. At least thirty-one Confederate soldiers died in the camp. Their bodies eventually were transported to Columbus, for burial in Camp Chase’s cemetery.
Camp Dennison remained in operation until the war’s conclusion in April 1865. At that time, authorities abandoned the camp, and local residents, seeking building supplies, quickly demolished the buildings.