Ohio - Home Of the First State Military Hall Of Fame - Honoring Forgotten Veterans
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery
West Side Military History In the Capital
Ohio contains a substantial amount of military history, from "Indian" wars to the War of 1812 on the Great Lake Erie, the Toledo War, the French and Indian War, and a list of others. My great grandfather fought in the American Civil War or the Union Army and the flag of his military unit is displayed in the State Capitol building in Columbus, Ohio. That building contains a lot of military history as well.
Columbus itself was the site of prisoner or war camps for Confederate captures. These prisoners were brought to the center of town near the capitol building, from where they were required to march out West Broad Street and Sullivant Avenue over five miles to Camp Chase. A veteran's cemetery sits on that site now, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. The burial grounds are 1.5 blocks long and 0.5 block wide and open to the public daily.
Interestingly, Camp Chase is located just under two miles west of the historic Feeble Minded Cemetery. This has been part of the state mental health complex located in this sector of the Franklinton and Hilltop Areas of Columbus.
The complex contained the State Psychiatric Hospital, the State School (for the mentally retarded"), and the State Forensic Institute for the Criminally Insane (and research). For a time, some inmates from the hospital and "school" were buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of the complex, but more recent government efforts have ensured that most have been exhumed and buried with markers and family witness. Yet, an eerie atmosphere lingers around the grounds and on out Sullivant Avenue to Camp Chase and good use is made of this on Halloween Ghost Tours of the city each autumn.
Respect For Adversaries
Camp Chase was originally a Union training camp, converted to a POW camp. Things were very bad there. In 1863 Camp Chase had accumulated a total of 8,000 men who were devastated by disease. By the end of 1864, a smallpox epidemic had run rampant and killed many. The camp changed into a cemetery.
Political prisoners at Camp Chase were transferred to an island prison in Lake Erie, but the rest were buried around Columbus, perhaps even in the Feeble Minded Cemetery - without markers. Inn the 1890s, the state government began moving bodies back to Camp Chase as a cemetery and marking as many as they could, provided they found identification. In fact, this movement to respect the Confederate veterans was initiated by a Union veteran, William Knauss. We have only estimates, but between 2168 to 2260 Confederate soldiers are buried in this spot, most with markers, and overall with two large bronze statues in tribute to them.
The cemetery is now on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.
Westside Military Historical Sites
A Native American burial mound is located in a roadside park near Downtown Columbus on McKinley Avenue and approximately four miles north of Camp Chase. Shrum Mound is named after the family that donated their land to the park and the mound may belong to prehistoric Indigenous People. While battles between native bands and between natives and white settlers occurred in our area, the mound was likely left here long before the American Civil War. At the same time, who knows what heroes might be resting inside?
In recent decades, a small group of Vietnam Veterans considered that a state military hall of fame was in order and they set about proposing to establish one. It is well known that our Vietnam Conflict Veterans have not always received prompt services from the VA, nor respect frm the non-military public. However, this group of veterans excited about a possible hall of fame stated that they wanted to honor all Ohio veterans of any combat service that have been awarded any sort of medal for valor for a specific act of heroism. After all, some were awarded medals posthumously and the public never heard about it. A hall of fame seemed fitting as a remembrance and respectful recognition.
The Hall of Fame opened during July 4th Week in 2000. The first class of inductees included veteran from WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, and Desert Storm.
The most recent class of 17 veterans was inducted for 2012, men who service in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. On of these was WWII Veteran Walter Kropp, who never spoke about the war to family or friends. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Germany and died in January 2012 at the age of 88, after leading three successful local savings and loans and serving on many Central Ohio boards.
Sharon A. Lane in Vietnam
The first female veteran was inducted in 2003, posthumously. Zanesville's Sharon A. Lane was a US Army 1st Lieutenant staff nurse at the 312th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam in 1969, just two months after her arrival. A 122mm rocket made a direct hit on the facility, but having first heard the sound of incoming attack, Lane rushed to her ward and began actions to safeguard her patients. Shrapnel killed her, but she saved many patients and prevented her ward from complete destruction. She was the first woman killed by direct fire in the war and was awarded the Bronze Star with V Device and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm. Aultman Hospital in Canton OH, Lane's school, installed a bronze statue to her memory with names of 110 local servicemen killed in Vietnam etched into its base.
Nominate a Hero
Do you know a US Veteran (male for female, living or dead) that was born in Ohio or entered the armed forces in Ohio and was awarded a medal for heroism or valor? If so, you may nominate that individual for the Ohio Military Hall of Fame at: Nominate a Veteran.
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