The Confederate Cemetery is all that remains from the Rock Island Prison Barracks, which was one of 21 prison camps operated by the Union Army during the Civil War. Almost 2,000 prisoners died at the camp. Each gravestone in the Confederate Cemetery identifies the individual soldier and his company and unit. The Veteran Administration maintains the cemetery today.

From the National Park Service

The Confederate Cemetery covers a rectangular, three-acre parcel of land, bound by Rodman Avenue and a post-and-chain fence to the north, Confederate Avenue to the south, and heavy tree cover to the east and west. A paved walkway extends from Rodman Avenue to the edge of the burial sites, passing a six-foot tall obelisk that the Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated in 2003 to the Confederate veterans who died at Rock Island. At the south end of the grounds, opposite the monument, is the cemetery's flagpole. Four Confederate cannons sit near the entrance, two each on either side of the monument.

The burial area is roughly square and consists of 20 rows of graves running north and south. Although the spacing of each row is identical, the beginning and end of the rows are irregular. In 1908, the Commission for Marking the Graves of Confederate Dead began a program to place distinctive pointed-top marble headstones, inscribed with the name and regimental affiliation of each soldier, on the graves. The graves were previously marked with wooden markers and a few private headstones.

From the Department of Veterans Affairs

Between 1863 and 1865, the federal government established a second cemetery of a little more than two acres for the burial of Confederate prisoners of war. More than 1,950 soldiers died at the Confederate prison on Rock Island Arsenal, founded there in 1863.