May 17th, 1865 -- Last Union prisoners leave Camp Ford
On this day in 1865, the last 1,200 Federal prisoners left Camp Ford, a Confederate prison camp located four miles northeast of Tyler. The camp, named in honor of Col. John S. (Rip) Ford, originally opened in 1862 as a facility for training Confederate conscripts, but the Trans-Mississippi Department ordered the establishment of a prison camp there in July 1863; the notorious John Pelham Border became commandant in May 1864. About 6,000 prisoners were confined at Camp Ford over the two years of its existence, making it the largest Confederate prison camp west of the Mississippi River. Of this number, 286 died there. The remains of the prison compound were destroyed in July 1865 by a detail of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry.