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Thread: Andersonville prison camp

  1. #1
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    Default Andersonville prison camp

    I spent part of a day at Andersonville prison, rightly named Camp Sumter, of the Confederate States of America.
    The name Andersonville in the minds of many is synonymous with Auschwitz, or the 7th circle of Hell. Constructed in early 1864 to relieve congestion around Richmond, and reduce the perceived security risk of having so many enemy troops interned close to the Capital of the Confederacy, and easing the burden on Virginia's resources.
    The location of Camp Sumter was decided when a former Governor of Georgia, M. General Howell Cobb suggested the central part of that State would best serve the needs of the project owing to the distance from the fighting, proximity to railroad services, and the presence of water, and other natural resources.
    All of these desirable things came together near the town of Andersonville (which truly is in the middle of nowhere) The design, and construction began under the command of Richard B. Winder (Capt. CSA)
    Originally planned to cover 16.5 acres, holding 10,000 prisoners, it had a stream running through the mid part of the stockaded compound. The compound built with slave labor was surrounded by a wall of close fitted Pine logs some 20 ft. in height. Within this wall was constructed a warning fence called the "Dead line" a prisoner found between these two barriers could be shot. To be continued....

    the first pics shows white posts, the outer most show the position of the stockade, the inner posts are the deadline.
    The second pic is of one of the state's monuments to their sons who died in Andersonville. This one is from my home State. The others are spread around the prison site.
    The third pic shows the prison area from the S.W. corner, next to the Star fort. (the fort was one of the artillery positions located at each corner of the camp)
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Just going to say this ...... Wirz got the shaft. Im sure he was a bastard but no worse then the majority of the camp comandants (USA or CSA). Camp Douglas in the North was diffently in the same ballpark as Andersonville as far as humanity would be concerned.

    For those that dont know anything about Andersonville they made a decent movie about it 15 years ago or so. Pretty accurate .... although some complaints.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115097/

    101st Airborne

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    That movie was one of the reasons I had wanted to visit Andersonville myself, The feeling of the actual place is darker than it appears in the movie. The Park Service published information about the camps of both sides, (for what its worth,) Andersonville has a death rate of 29%, Camp Douglas is 15% The Union Camp at Elmira, N.Y. lists a rate of 24%. Statistics aside, I agree that none of the camps were run humanely. The reason the camps became so overcrowded was that Lincoln had demanded equal treatment for all Union soldiers, regardless of their color. The Confederacy held a different opinion. In answer to that, Lincoln suspended the prisoner exchange program then in operation. So the camps on both sides filled up. The question of Capt. Wirz will probably never be settled, though I personally believe he could have done much more to at least lessen the privations of Andersonville. In todays world, who knows what he might have gotten.
    The pic shows a recreation of the types of shelters the prisoners were allowed to make for themselves. Barracks, cabins etc. for whatever reason were not allowed.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Some pics from wikipedia ...........



    Notice the lovely stream in the middle ...



    Im sure the smell had to be awful.

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    With as many as 30,000 men interned at one time, (the camp was designed for 10,000) that stream was the source of water for washing, drinking, and on the down stream end, the latrine. After a hard rain, one day, a spring broke through a bit uphill from the "sweet water branch" and furnished clean (er) water. The prisoners named it "Providence Spring" The stone house in the background is built over the actual spring.
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    I have a book (somewhere) titled "From Battlefield to Prison Pen" from the 1870's-1880's. Found it in my grandparents book collection. It recalled a Union soldiers time in Andersonville among other experiences. If I can find it I'll maybe post some excerpts from it.
    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." - Ronald Reagan

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Andersonville Prison being a regular military installation (Camp Sumter) it had artillery batteries placed at intervals outside of the Stockade, built into Earthworks. The remains of these are visible today, and have guns placed in them. The guns now present appear to be bronze smooth bores of about 3" bore. I looked at one of these, and its marks show it to have been cast in 1861, Mfg by Marshall & Co. of St. Louis, Mo. (the one I looked at had a bird's nest W/ eggs down in the barrel. ) The positions to the North are smaller than those at the South end of the camp.
    Pics 1, and 2 are of the "Star Fort" at the N.W. corner of the camp, is a somewhat star shaped Earthwork with a defensive trench surrounding it.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Andersonville National Cemetery was the burial ground for those who died in the prison, but after the War, in 1865, it was established as a National Cemetery. By 1868 it held over 800 additional interments of Union Soldiers who died in hospitals, other camps, or on the battlefields of southern Georgia. The Cemetery presently holds 18,000 graves.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    A stunning set of postings TG.
    Small question. Was the reason internees were not permitted to build barracks because then, under CSA law were there dwellings they would then be would qualify to receive resources that could otherwise be denied because the camp had no permanent housing structures for the inmates?

    In other words, did they "keep it classed as temporary" to avoid using resources or finances needed elsewhere?

    Kind and Respecftul Regards TG my friend, Uyraell.
    Last edited by Uyraell; 08-17-2010 at 11:36 AM. Reason: Grammatical.

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
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    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

    "Aligaes : Amore vel Ira." :
    "^Winged Ones^ : Love or Wrath."

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Although I suspect that either thought,be it resources, or that a temporary facility wouldnt need barracks may be the reason, any answer on my part would be speculation, as I have found no supported, factual information about the shelter issue, and few bare mentions of it. If I do ,I will post it here.

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Many Many Thanks TG, much appreciated my friend.

    There's an eerie parallel with the use of concentration camps during the Boer War, a generation later.
    Despite that they had Dutch/Boer civilians interned, and despite that same were often women and children, for the first few weeks at least, the UK Govt refused to allow permanent shelters to be built, and was even trying to deny/restrict the availability of tents. In this manner, the need to provision for the camp population was avoided because, being "temporary" the camp did not in effect legally exist.

    Which is why I was curious if similar circumstances had obtained during the US Civil War.

    Kind and Respectful Regards TG my friend, Uyraell.

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
    Edward III, Rex Britania, AD1348.

    "Wenn Schon, denn schon."
    "Be It Done, Best be It Be Done Well."
    Known German adage.

    "Until you have looked into a veteran's eyes and actually seen it,
    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

    "Aligaes : Amore vel Ira." :
    "^Winged Ones^ : Love or Wrath."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    Although I suspect that either thought,be it resources, or that a temporary facility wouldnt need barracks may be the reason, any answer on my part would be speculation, as I have found no supported, factual information about the shelter issue, and few bare mentions of it. If I do ,I will post it here.
    I couldnt be sure either! But the camp was ready about the time Grant took command of the Army. He was completely against prisoner exchanges due to the simple mathmatics of it. The North had more able men. Not everyone shared his idea or liked it. As a result im sure most thought it would be temporary. Although exhanges did happen after Grant was in command ... the were mostly stopped. Actually, John Wilkes Booth's original idea was to capture Lincoln and use him for the purpose of an exchange.
    Last edited by Gen. Sandworm; 08-17-2010 at 02:45 PM. Reason: Forgot the quote

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    I had read that it was Lincoln, and Grant that stopped the exchanges due to Confederate refusal to treat all Union soldiers equally, (some mention of a massacre of Black soldiers was made.) I found this info which makes no mention of said mistreatment, but lays the blame on a few specific people.
    In 1862 Representatives of each side met to arrange the format of exchanges, and how many of a particular rank were equal in value to higher officers etc.
    Gen. John Dix (U.S.) and Gen. D.H. Hill (CSA) were these representatives.
    In 1863 Gen. Henry Halleck (U.S.) became the representative in authority for the exchanges. He was pressured by Edwin Stanton then Secretary of War for the U.S. who proceeded to impede the program, and when Gen U.S. Grant was made the overall Commander of the Army the exchanges trickled away to nothing.(cut & paste follows)
    General Benjamin F. Butler later said what Grant had told him: "He (Grant) said that I would agree with him that by the exchange of prisoners we get no men fit to go into our army, and every soldier we gave the Confederates went immediately into theirs, so that the exchange was virtually so much aid to them and none to us."

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    I was watching some History Channel tonight, and there was a bit about Camp Douglas, "80 acres of Hell" It was postulated by some at the time that the Camp's officials were under-reporting the deaths at the camp by a significant margin. It may be that Both Douglas, and Andersonville, were much closer in death rates than official figures would indicate.
    Now as to the breakdown of the prisoner exchange program, the "Official Reason" was the south refusing to accord black union soldiers equal POW status. (Now it had been stated by other prisoners of Camp Douglas,(or rather shown on this show ) that Black Confederate soldiers were in some cases shot out of hand just for being black confederate soldiers.I dont know if any official records were made of this practice, or if its even true.)
    The actual reason was stated as Stanton, and Grant had said, that the South derived great benefit from the exchange, but the Union did not, so why continue.
    One bit of info may possibly answer the question of why there were no barracks in most camps, there were barracks in Camp Douglas, and they were said to be wholly infested with vermin, and that their eventual burning by disgruntled Union parolees was seen by the Chicago Medical establishment as a blessing. Perhaps living out in the open was less lousy.(just a thought...)

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    Default Re: Andersonville prison camp

    My 5th great grandfathe,r Joseph A Ledford of Kentucky, died at Andersonville 6-13-1864. Papers actually say he died of diarrhea, which is listed as one of the top 3 killers there. He is buried in the mass grave on the site.

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