We are a living history organization dedicated to telling the story of the Veteran Reserve Corps (formerly Invalid Corps), Camp Douglas, and Chicagoland during the Civil War. Through "in character" interactions, we provide an informative and memorable encounter with history. Visit us at one of the many reenactments, living history events, or parades that we participate in each year. We look forward to talking to you!
The 8th Veteran Reserve Corps, under the command of Col. Benjamin J. Sweet, performed guard duties at Camp Douglas. Union veterans who had been discharged due to illness or injury comprised the Veteran Reserve Corps. Though unfit for front-line duty, these men provided valuable service to the nation by garrisoning forts, performing Army paperwork, and guarding strategic installations such as railroad bridges, post offices, and prisons. The VRC was considered a Corps of Honor, and was furnished with distinct sky-blue uniforms.
Camp Douglas, located near present day 31st street on the south side of Chicago, was a major prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War. Thousands of Confederates were confined here, and many never returned home, as the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery demonstrates. Conditions at Camp Douglas, like those in every Civil War prison, were at best tolerable, at worst deadly. Given the limitations of medical and hygienic knowledge at the time, the concentration of large groups of men always fostered disease. Those of us who live in the area can only imagine how the Chicago winter felt to the Southern POWs.