Camp Ford Historic Park

Welcome to Camp Ford, C.S.A.

Camp Ford was the largest Confederate Prisoner of War Camp west of the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. Established in August of 1863, the camp was not closed until May 19, 1865. At its peak in July 1864, over 5,300 prisoners were detained there.

The site of the Camp stockade is now a public park, owned by Smith County, Texas, and managed by the Smith County Historical Society.

The park features a kiosk with extensive graphics detailing the history of the camp, a walking trail with more interpretive signage, a picnic area, and a reconstruction of the cabin of Lt. Col J.B. Leake.

The Camp Ford Historic Park is located at 6500 US Highway 271, 0.8 miles outside Loop 323 in Tyler, Texas. It is open daily and admission is free.

Notable Facts

Medal of Honor recipients held at Camp Ford

  • ASTEN, CHARLES
  • BUTTS, GEORGE
  • WHITE, PATRICK H.
  • CARMEN, ISAAC H.

Spiegel Brothers at Camp Ford

Joseph Spiegel, founder of merchandising giant Spiegels was the sutler of the 120th Ohio. He was captured on May 3, 1864, when the transport City Belle was ambushed on the Red River, he along with most of the 120th was held at the Camp until final exchange on May 22, 1865.

Joseph’s brother Marcus was the colonel of the 120th, and was mortally wounded during the engagement. The family were German Jews who had immigrated to America in the 1840’s. Marcus was one of only a handful of Jews in the Union army to reach the rank of Colonel. 

Help Preserve Camp Ford

Data and Information on Camp Ford

We have amassed a large collection of Camp Ford material, and our bibliography contains well over 300 entries. We believe that there are still letters, diaries and materials in small or private collections, and we are interested in obtaining copies.

If you know of letters, diaries, etc, and are willing to share, please contact us.

Sponsor a Flag and Pole.

Our goal is to have a flag pole and flag flying at the park for each state that had prisoners here for a total of 27 poles. We are using high quality, internal halyard poles that will be illuminated so that the flags will fly constantly.

If you are interested in donating a flag and pole for a particular state, or helping out financially, please contact us.

Camp Ford Lithograph

The lithograph, which was published between 1870 and 1875, provides a south view of the camp, with several smaller insert drawings.

The lithograph has been digitally restored and printed on 18″ X 24″ high quality paper. Copies may be ordered from the Smith County Historical Society.