By Paul Siedel
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved
The largest Civil War training camp in Northeast Ohio was Camp Cleveland, located in the Tremont neighborhood just to the south of downtown Cleveland. Along with the U.S. General Hospital it covered approximately 80 acres and according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History eventually trained 15,230 U.S. troops. It also served as a transit camp for troops moving from one front to another and housed two groups of Confederate prisoners. Camp Cleveland was, however, the only west side facility. Camps Wood, Taylor, Tod and Brown were located along Woodland Avenue between East 55th and Ontario Street. Today, this is the route of the Innerbelt freeway.
Along with the training camp, the U.S. Army General Hospital was located just to the east of what is today is West 5th Street. One of the men affiliated with the hospital was Dr. George Miller Sternberg. He is considered by some to be the Father of American Bacteriology. Sternberg was in the U.S. Army and served in the Battles of Bull Run, Gaines’ Mill and Malvern Hill. He was later assigned to the Cleveland Hospital and was here from May 1864 to July 1865 when the Camp closed. In later years he documented the causes of yellow fever and malaria and confirmed the roles of bacilli in both tuberculosis and typhoid fever. In 1886 he was instrumental in establishing the Army Medical School, known today as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Dr. Sternberg died in 1915 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
One of the most commonly asked questions on the Civil War Tour of Cleveland is, “Are there any buildings from Camp Cleveland left?” The answer is not on their original sites.
In 1865 the Camp was closed and the Government was in a hurry to demobilize and downsize. Several auctions were held to liquidate the various camps. In November 1865 an auction was held at Camp Cleveland and the Cleveland Leader advertised such items as “spades, rakes, garden tools of all kinds, horses, working harnesses, boots, shoes, and leather goods of all types, roles of telegraph wire, cook stoves, wash boilers, frying pans and kitchen supplies of various types.” The list goes on and on. Camp Cleveland was systematically disassembled, the property was returned to the lessor, Mr. Silas Stone, who sold it to a group of investors and they had the property surveyed and divided into building lots.
When the Camp was liquidated many of the barracks were sold to private individuals and therefore, although it has never been researched, many likely ended up as tool sheds or chicken coops on various properties scattered around the city. In that case there is no telling if there are indeed any Camp Cleveland structures left standing today. I personally don’t believe it’s probable, but, as we know, nothing is impossible.