Skip to comments.Today In History - February 27, 1864 - Andersonville Prison Opens
Posted on 02/27/2007 6:55:38 AM PST by MplsSteve
In the early years of the Civil War, prisoners from the North and South were rarely held in prison camps. In many cases, they were often exchanged with POWS from the opposing side.
As the war dragged on, the North started holding Confederate prisoners in permanent prisons. The South started to do this too. A Confederate general recommended building a prison is rural Georgia in a location far from the front lines.
A prison was established near the small village of Andersonville. It was called Camp Sumter.
At its height, as many as 33000 Union prisoners were held on the 26 acre facility. Many Union prisoners died of disease, malnutrition and exposure. As many as 13000 prisoners died during the period of February 1864 'til Andersonville was closed in April 1865.
The commandant of Andersonville, Capt Henry Wirz, was executed after being found guilty of war crimes. Wirz defended his actions, saying that the Confederate troops guarding the prisoner suffered heavily too due to diease, exposure and lack of food.
It was repeated in 1945 outside of Bad Kreutznach Germany, where we kept the German PWs. It was rough for them but not as bad as Andersonville.
In my opinion this is not an anniversary worth celebrating.
There's no celebrating here. I've visited Andersonville a few years back. It was a very sobering event.
I'm posting this only as part of my occasional "Today In History" posts.
It sounds like the treatment of prisoners was very much dependent on the whims and attitudes of whatever ranking officer was in charge at any given time. Another problem was the lack of resources in the south.
In Chicago (Fort Douglas?) was a prison camp that started out being extremely lax with confederate prisoners wandering the streets of Chicago. Over time the place became extremely harsh due to the rising prison population and attitudes of the commanding officer.
Camp Douglas. Bad sanitation at these places made for a high mortaility rate.
"Wirz last words reportedly were that he was being hanged for following orders."
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