Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery is located in Ridge, Maryland, approximately 80 miles south of Washington, D.C., at the mouth of the Potomac River. During the Civil War, the Union Army established a hospital on the site after General George McClellan's Peninsula Campaign failed to capture Richmond. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union desperately needed a repository for Confederate soldiers in the region; as a consequence Point Lookout was transformed into a prison.
As in many Union prisons, the inmate population at Point Lookout ballooned as the war progressed. Between 1863 and 1865, more than 50,000 prisoners passed through the gates of Point Lookout. Many prisoners briefly stayed in Point Lookout before transferring to other prisons farther north. At various points over this period, the total population of Point Lookout reached 20,000 or more, double the intended capacity. Approximately 4,000 Confederates died at the site. Many of the inmates lived in tents instead of barracks, which contributed to the large number of deaths by exposure.
Confederate remains at Point Lookout are interred in a common grave. Originally, the soldiers were buried in two cemeteries near the prison camp. However, in 1870 the state of Maryland removed the remains to a more favorable site one-mile inland. After the transfer, the individual graves could not be identified; as a result the remains were buried in a common grave. In 1910, Maryland asked the federal government to assume care of the burial site and, toward that end, passed an act relinquishing all right, title, and interest in the cemetery.
Monuments and Memorials
In 1910, when the federal government began maintenance of this property, an 80' tall granite obelisk was erected marking the common grave. The monument includes 12 bronze tablets inscribed with the names and command of 3,382 known Confederate soldiers and sailors, and 44 civilians. Four of these tablets are attached to the base of the monument, and eight are on the grass mound supporting the monument. The Van Amridge Granite Company created the monument.
Adjacent to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument, there is a marble monument erected by the State of Maryland in 1876 dedicated to the Confederate dead.