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 Jewett at Athens, Ohio. Officials named the camp after an early resident of Athens but eventually renamed the camp as Camp Wool after John Ellis Wool, a veteran of the War of 1812, the U.S.-Mexican War and the Civil War. Camp Wool remained in use during only 1861. The 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry organized at Camp Wool. The Daughters of Union Veterans erected a small monument to commemorate Camp Wool in 1932. The camp was located on the current site of West Elementary School in Athens.