The private and community cemeteries that contain NCA soldiers' and government lots, and Confederate cemeteries, do not always have staffed offices on site. When administrative information for the larger cemetery is available, it is provided below.
This cemetery is overseen by Rock Island National Cemetery.
Please contact the national cemetery for more information.
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Rock Island Confederate Cemetery is located just 2,500 yards northwest of Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois. During the Civil War, the federal government established a prison on Rock Island to ease the crowded conditions at other prisons in the Midwest. The first prisoners, taken at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, arrived from Chattanooga in December 1863. In a little over two years more than 12,000 prisoners passed through the gates of the prison. As in many other prisons on both sides of the war, smallpox and other diseases presented a significant problem at Rock Island. Located in a low-lying area, the prison suffered from a lack of drainage, which contributed to the unhealthy living conditions. Over the course of the war, hundreds of Confederates died from disease and exposure.
Two separate cemeteries were developed on the island, one for Confederates and one for Union soldiers who served as prison guards. The latter became Rock Island National Cemetery after the war.
As early as January 1864, rumors began to circulate regarding the conditions at Rock Island. Critics of the camp began to refer to it as the “Andersonville of the North.” When burials in the Confederate cemetery were discontinued on July 11, 1865, interments totaled approximately 1,950. Smallpox and pneumonia accounted for most of the deaths in the prison.
After the war, the federal government transferred all the extant prison structures—including the barracks, hospital, and garrison building—to the Rock Island Arsenal. Subsequently, all of the buildings associated with the prison have been destroyed. Today, Rock Island Confederate Cemetery is the last vestige of the Rock Island Confederate prison.
The Rock Island Arsenal, including Rock Island Confederate Cemetery, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
Monuments and Memorials
There are four 12-lb Confederate artillery monuments within Rock Island Confederate Cemetery.
A granite obelisk on a block base was dedicated on Nov. 2, 2003, at the entrance to the cemetery by a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Engraved in the front of the block is “In Memory of the Confederate Veterans Who Died at the Rock Island Prison Camp. May They Never Be Forgotten. …”
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Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Flowers and containers: Fresh cut flowers may be placed on the gravesite at any time. Temporary flower containers are provided for your convenience and are the property of the cemetery. Please do not remove these containers from the cemetery grounds. Under no circumstances will items be tied, wired, glued, or otherwise attached to the headstone or marker. Permanent flower containers are no longer permitted.
Artificial flowers: Artificial flowers will be permitted on the gravesite during the period Oct. 10 through April 15. Christmas Decorations, wreaths, grave blankets (no larger than three feet by five feet), etc., are permitted from Thanksgiving through March 1. Decorations removed from the gravesites will be discarded 30 days after the pick up date.
Potted plants: While they are not suggested, because of damage to the grass, live potted plants will be permitted on the gravesite for a period of 10 days beginning the Thursday before Easter and Memorial Day. It is recommended that the family remove potted plants as soon as possible to minimize damage to the grass and/or headstone/marker.
Unauthorized decorations: The following items are not permitted on the gravesite: Potted plants (except as above), statues, permanent plantings, vigil lights, breakable items (i.e., glass/ceramic vases), balloons, toys, stuffed animals, shepherd's hooks or similar devices, U. S. Flags (except on Memorial Day weekend), other similar commemorative items or markers, and items degrading to the country.
Perpetual care: Guidelines provide for grounds maintenance, cutting the grass and trimming around the headstones/markers, and all areas of the cemetery on a weekly basis. This includes the removal and disposal of unauthorized grave decorations and artificial arrangements (except during periods specified above). Fresh cut floral arrangements will be removed from the gravesite and disposed of by cemetery personnel when they become withered, faded, or otherwise unsightly. Any decorations or floral items that have been displaced from the gravesites, due to wind or other factors out of our control, will be removed from the graves, held for 30 days and disposed of by cemetery personnel.
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