Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Andersonville, GA

We stopped at Andersonville overnight so we could see the Andersonville Prisoner of War camp and the Andersonville Civil War Village.

We were surprised that it was more than just about the Andersonville POW camp, but has a great museum dedicated to all POWs. Inside the museum were sections about POWs from not only Vietnam, but WWII, WWI, as well as the Civil War.

If you can imagine, the Andersonville POW camp was a Confederate camp holding Union enlisted soldiers, no officers. The camp was only ten acres and designed to hold about 10,000 men. Even though it was only in operation for 14 months, it had at times over 40,000 men at once. In the middle running through the camp was a small stream. The men got their drinking water at the upper end, and the lower end became the latrine.

Here is what the stream is today.

They didn't have to tell me twice.

The men had to provide their own shelters like these, since no buildings had been erected inside the stockade fences. The prisoners were given what food was available, but they had to fix it themselves. Under these conditions many prisoners died from illness and starvation. This camp had the largest percentage of prisoners die than any other camp, 29%. But the Confederate soldiers guarding them lived in almost the same conditions and the Confederate captors died at almost the same percent.
The only person to be tried and hung for war crimes during the Civil War was the acting Commander of the Andersonville POW camp. Although the terms of surrender of the south was supposed to exclude any commanders being brought to trial on these type of charges, Captain Henry Wirz was arrested, tried and hung for war crimes. There are many who say he was a scapegoat and there was no real substantiation of any of the charges.

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