Andersonville - Hist 141


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Andersonville - Hist 141

  1. 1. Brandon Richards
  2. 2.  Beginning in February 1864, a Union POW camp was opened in Madison County, Georgia Its main purpose was to relieve other prisons from the large amount of Union prisoners in Richmond, Virginia It was named Andersonville, after railroad station in Sumter County
  3. 3.  The area chosen far from Richmond was to keep the war at a distance; but, also, this would allow for fewer men to guard them and insure lesser chance of uprising, i.e. raids to free prisoners The location settled upon was 65 miles southwest of Macon, Georgia
  4. 4.  The construction of Andersonville began in January, 1864 20 ft. long pine logs were placed at a depth of 5 feet to create a stockade By June, the prison had been enlarged to cover 26 ½ acres, with dimensions of 1,620 ft. long and 779 ft. wide Sentry boxes were placed 30 yards apart along the perimeter; 19 feet offset from the stockade was a line of wooded posts with wood rail on top called the “deadline”; any prisoner who crossed it was shot on sight The prison was originally designed to hold 10,000 prisoners; by June, it was swelling with 22,000; and by August, 32,000
  5. 5.  An incoming Union soldier wrote of his introduction to Andersonville He wrote of the horror that befell him and made his blood run cold Soldiers who had been there were but “walking skeletons, covered in filth and vermin.” He asked, “Can this be Hell?”
  6. 6.  The location – while ideally suited to keep away trouble for the guards – brought with it a lack of ready access to supplies As the number of prisoners grew, space became less and less Many of the prisoners were not only naked, but, covered in insects and filth, and disease; the cramped conditions made the spread of sickness that much more prevalent A group called the Andersonville Raiders attacked fellow inmates in order to get food, jewelry, money, and clothing A group called The Regulators formed in opposition to the Raiders and readily tried them by a jury of fellow prisoners ; punishments included running the gauntlet, ball and chain, and hangings (in 6 cases) A petition was constructed by the prisoners asking for the Union to reinstate prisoner exchange; the request was denied, on the outset In 1864, the Confederacy offered (unconditionally) to release prisoners if the Union sent ships to pick them up In the autumn of 1864, following the capture of Atlanta, prisoners well-enough to move were sent to Millen and Florence; Millen had improved conditions over Andersonville However, when General William Tecumseh Sherman began the march to the sea, prisoners were given back to Andersonville, which had, somewhat, improved itself
  7. 7.  Andersonville had the highest mortality rate of any Civil War prison With an amount of 45,000 prisoners being sent through Andersonville, 12,912 died from disease, malnutrition, and other factors, roughly 32% of all prisoners During the Civil War, more than 56,000 soldiers, or 9%, died in POW camps
  8. 8.  Following the surrender of the Confederates, on May 7th, 1865, Captain Wirz [shown above being read his death warrant] and Officer James W. Duncan, were arrested and charged with war crimes for their involvement in Andersonville They were tried separately: James Duncan received a 15-year sentence, but, escaped after serving one year Wirz, however, was not so lucky. Due to the recent assassination of Lincoln, sympathy for Confederates was low, and he was sentenced to death
  9. 9. Monument to Andersonville prisoners A National Prisoners of War Museum was opened in 1998 to serve as memorial to the all American POWs The Andersonville National Cemetery contains 13,714 graves; 921 of which are of “unknown” persons
  10. 10.  A Pulitzer-Prize winning novel titled Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor, was published in 1955; the novel covers fictional and real characters and is largely based in prisoner memoirs TNT created a series in 1996 documenting Andersonville via drama; aptly titled Andersonville, it was directed by John Frankenheimer
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