andersonville - hist 141

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Brandon Richards Andersonville

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  • 1.Brandon Richards

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. The area chosen far from Richmondwas to keep the war at a distance; but,also, this would allow for fewer men toguard them and insure lesser chance ofuprising, i.e. raids to free prisoners The location settled upon was 65 milessouthwest of Macon, Georgia 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 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 postswith 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. An incoming Unionsoldier wrote of hisintroduction toAndersonville He wrote of the horrorthat befell him andmade his blood runcold Soldiers who had beenthere were butwalking skeletons,covered in filth andvermin. He asked, Can this beHell? 6. The location while ideally suited to keep awaytrouble for the guards brought with it a lack ofready access to supplies As the number of prisoners grew, space becameless and less Many of the prisoners were not only naked, but,covered in insects and filth, and disease; thecramped conditions made the spread of sicknessthat much more prevalent A group called the Andersonville Raiders attackedfellow inmates in order to get food, jewelry,money, and clothing A group called The Regulators formed inopposition to the Raiders and readily tried themby a jury of fellow prisoners ; punishmentsincluded running the gauntlet, ball and chain, andhangings (in 6 cases) A petition was constructed by the prisonersasking for the Union to reinstate prisonerexchange; the request was denied, on the outset In 1864, the Confederacy offered(unconditionally) to release prisoners if theUnion sent ships to pick them up In the autumn of 1864, following the capture ofAtlanta, prisoners well-enough to move were sentto Millen and Florence; Millen had improvedconditions over Andersonville However, when General William TecumsehSherman began the march to the sea, prisonerswere given back to Andersonville, which had,somewhat, improved itself 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. Following the surrender of the Confederates, on May 7th, 1865, Captain Wirz [shown above being read his deathwarrant] and Officer James W. Duncan, were arrested and charged with war crimes for their involvement inAndersonville 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 hewas sentenced to death 9. Monument to Andersonville prisoners A National Prisoners of War Museum was opened in 1998 to serve as memorial to the all AmericanPOWs The Andersonville National Cemetery contains 13,714 graves; 921 of which are of unknown persons 10. A Pulitzer-Prize winning novel titled Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor, was published in 1955; thenovel 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 wasdirected by John Frankenheimer 11.