On November 24, 1862, in what was then University Heights and now is Tremont, Governor David Tod ascended a large hill to be greeted by a 15-gun salute from the 20th Ohio Independent Battery. The governor was here to inspect Camp Cleveland, the largest of Cleveland's seven Civil War training camps. Although the 20th had only been at Camp Cleveland for about a month, other regiments had occupied the camp as early as August, 1862. In fact, just three weeks before Governor Tod arrived, 8,100 men were stationed there. By the war's end more than 15,000 soldiers (five percent of the troops raised in Ohio) had trained at Camp Cleveland.
Other Civil War training camps—Taylor (E. 30th and Woodlawn), Wade (adjacent to Camp Cleveland), Brown (Euclid and East 40th) and Wood (E. 37th and Woodlawn)—were operating in the area before the decision to construct Camp Cleveland was made in July of 1862. However, Camp Cleveland was distinctive: Situated on 35.5 acres owned by the Wade family, Camp Cleveland enjoyed an elevated but exceptionally flat location, ample clean water, and a predominance of wooden structures rather than tents. Recruitment for the camp was done in a barn on Auburn Avenue, about a mile to the south.
Camp Cleveland’s borders comprised Hershel (now West 5th Street) on the east, University Street (now West 7th Street) on the west, Railway Avenue (now University Road) on the north and South Street (now Marquardt Avenue) on the south. Walking around Camp Cleveland on the day of his visit, Governor Tod would have seen myriad 18' by 24' buildings used for privates' quarters. Behind these were officers' barracks. At the very rear were the 100' by 85' quartermasters' buildings. On the eastern side of the camp were six buildings occupied by artillery troops.
Camp Cleveland was used for more than training and the formation of regiments. With its abundance of good housing, the camp was able to accommodate traveling federal units. Two groups of Confederate prisoners also were held at Camp Cleveland until they could be transported elsewhere. Serving the camp, a U.S. General Hospital was located on 3.75 acres at what is now the southeast corner of West 5th Street and Jefferson Avenue. During the war, some 3,020 sick and injured soldiers were treated at this facility. As the war came to an end, more than 11,000 troops made their final stop at Camp Cleveland to be paid and discharged before returning home.
On August 23, 1865, the 22nd Ohio Veteran Reserve Corps departed for Camp Chase in Franklin County near Columbus, leaving the Camp Cleveland deserted. In September, the hospital and camp buildings were dismantled, with the lumber and government equipment sold at auction.
In October, 2003, the State of Ohio placed a historical marker near the site of the original Camp Cleveland. A dedication program was held, with participation by the 19th OVA Reenactment Battery and the Cleveland Grays Color Guard.