When the Civil War came to Johnson’s Island, Ohio

Jena C. Henry is a writer, blogger, book reviewer, and bon vivant. Her goal is to make friends with everyone in the world. Jena enjoys reading new books and encouraging writers to be their best. Jena C. Henry holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Akron and practiced law and raised her family in tropical Ohio. Now retired, she writes novels, conducts writing workshops and enjoys good times with friends and family. Her fiction series, The Golden Age of Charli, spotlights the love and laughter of family life and retirement.







Describe The Civil War in One Word

Heroic

Bloodiest

Tragedy

Freedom

Horrific

Truth

Unfinished

The History Channel asked historians to describe the Civil War in one word. I appreciate the words they used, which are shown in the list above. My word would be: Unbelievable 

The historians would agree with my word, too. The thought of war in 1860 seemed unbelievable. No one in America thought that very soon their country would be blasted into a four year conflagration that would kill the equivalent of 6 million people.

I spend my summers on a small peninsular finger of land that juts into Lake Erie. I relax on Sandusky Bay on the south side of the peninsula and I can see Johnson’s Island from the jetty I walk to. Johnson’s Island is small and is jammed with quaint and modern vacation homes. It used to be peaceful and lonely. In the late fall of 1861, Johnson’s Island became the site of a federal Civil War Prisoner of War Depot.

Other islands on Lake Erie were considered for a prison. These islands are now fun vacation destinations, such as Put-in Bay. But they were deemed to be too close to Canada, and too treacherous to reach in the winter when the lake froze. Johnson’s Island was just right- sheltered waters, easy access to deliver supplies, uninhabited.

Most of the POWs were officers in the CSA- the Confederate States of America. Two generals who had fought at Gettysburg were confined to the prison on Johnson’s Island. During the early years, prisoners had a lively community, with amateur theatrical performances, publishing, and crafts projects available.

More than 15,000 men passed through Johnson’s Island. Wardens lost only about 200