A Civil War encampment that at one time brought more than 12,000 Union soldiers into Marietta will be memorialized with an historic marker at Indian Acres Park later this year.
"Very few people had any notion that Camp Putnam even existed," said Bill Reynolds, local historian and member of the Mid Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable.
The Roundtable is a group of 45 to 70 area Civil War enthusiasts working to preserve the local area's legacy during the war between the states.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Glenna Hoff, left, education and programs director at the Campus Martius Museum, and Friends of the Museum board member Dave Baker view the Camp Putnam photo and display in the “Touched By Conflict” Civil War exhibit at the museum last week.
This rare photo of troops assembled at Camp Putnam near the Washington County Fairgrounds is part of the “Touched By Conflict” exhibit at the Campus Martius Museum.
"Col. William Rufus Putnam, grandson of Rufus Putnam, was the camp's commander," Reynolds said. "And in July 1863 the camp contained far more troops than the entire population of Marietta at that time."
The assembly of soldiers grew from just 175 men training at the camp on July 13 of that year to a total 12,082 by July 19. In comparison, Marietta's population at the time was probably less than 4,000.
The number of troops increased on the orders of Ohio Gov. David Tod who had called out the state militia to protect the state's southern counties from raids being led by Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate cavalry leader with a contingent of 1,400 men.
The Mid Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable plans to erect a historical marker at Indian Acres Park to commemorate the location of Camp Putnam near the Washington County Fairgrounds.
The number of troops at Camp Putnam exceeded 12,000 in July 1863, four times the population of Marietta at that time.
Some soldiers from the camp took part in the Battle of Buffington Island, the only major Civil War battle that took place in the state of Ohio.
A display of artifacts and rare photo of Camp Putnam are part of the current "Touched By Conflict" Civil War exhibit at the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta.
Contributions to help the nonprofit Civil War Roundtable fund the Camp Putnam memorial and other historical markers the group plans to erect in the future can be made by sending a check designated "Civil War memorial" to the Marietta Community Foundation, 100 Putnam St., Marietta, Ohio 45750.
But Morgan's 13 days of raids ended at the Battle of Buffington Island on the Ohio River in Meigs County, the only major Civil War battle fought in the state of Ohio. An estimated 750 of Morgan's men were captured and another 300 escaped across the Ohio River back into the south.
Morgan and 400 men headed north following the battle and were eventually captured in Columbiana County.
"About 300 of the militia from Camp Putnam were among the troops that prevented Morgan from crossing the river at Buffington Island on July 18," said Scott Britton, director of The Castle museum in Marietta and another member of the Mid Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable.
He said because Morgan and his troops had been routed, Gov. Tod released many of the militia to return home that had gathered at Camp Putnam.
"On July 20 their numbers dropped from more than 12,000 to 6,444," Britton said. "But Camp Putnam, also known as the Marietta Camp, was one of the four biggest encampments in the state at that time."
He said the others included Camp Dennison in Cincinnati, Camp Chase in Columbus and Camp Cleveland in Cleveland.
Reynolds said the Mid Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable members wanted to commemorate Camp Putnam by erecting an historical marker with information about the camp at Indian Acres Park.
"We're a long way from finishing the project at this point," he said. "But first we wanted to make sure we'd have Marietta City Council's approval."
A resolution approving the project is expected to be passed by city council at the next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the community building at Lookout Park.
Reynolds said once final approval is received, he and Britton would work with Sewah Studios in Marietta to develop the wording that will be engraved on the monument. He said the project would probably cost around $2,000.
"We expect to have it completed by this fall," he said. "And anyone who would like to donate to the project can send a check designated for the Civil War marker to the Marietta Community Foundation."
Reynolds said the Civil War Roundtable group plans to place more markers at historic sites throughout the Mid Ohio Valley in the future.
He added that anyone is welcome to join the Roundtable group by attending one of the meetings held every other month on the third Thursday of the month at the Campus Martius Museum.
The next session is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 15.