Skip to comments.Wirz Memorial Set for Sunday, November 7th
Posted on 10/28/2010 4:14:35 PM PDT by BigReb555
Do young people know the truth about Henry Wirz?
Is anyone talking about the upcoming War Between the States Sesquicentennial? The 150th Anniversary of the War for Southern Independence will be commemorated by such groups as the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans. See more information at: http://www.150wbts.org/
Do young people know the truth about Henry Wirz?
The 35th annual Captain Henry Wirz Memorial Service (a tradition started by the Alexander H. Stephens Camp 78 Sons of Confederate Veterans and Americus Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1976) will take place on Sunday afternoon, November 7th at 3 PM in the town of Andersonville, Georgia.
The guest speaker for the event will be Dr. Richard Rhone from Tuscaloosa, Alabama who is the Lieutenant Commander General of the Military Order of Stars and Bars. John Carroll will lead those assembled in the singing of Dixie and Andersonville Mayor Marvin Buagh will bring welcome.
For more information about the event contact James Gaston by email at: email@example.com Captain Henry Wirz was born, Hartman Heinrich Wirz in November 1823, in Zurich, Switzerland where his father, Abraham Wirz was highly respected.
At the outbreak of the War Between the States, Wirz enlisted in the Fourth Louisiana infantry on June 16, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant a year later and was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines. He never recovered from the injury to his left wrist and it caused him great pain for the rest of his life.
Wirz was promoted to Captain on June 12, 1862 and was first detailed to General John Winder where he was given command of a Confederate military prison in Richmond, Virginia.
After serving a year as special emissary to President Jefferson Davis in Paris and Berlin, on March 27, 1864, he was installed as commandant of Andersonville Prison at Fort Sumter in Georgia. Wirz did the best he could do with many Union prisoners and very little food and medicine. It is written that the guards got the same food and medicine as the prisoners.
The Confederacy sent a distress message to Union President Abraham Lincoln and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The South pleaded for an exchange of Confederate and Union prisoners. Lincoln and Grant, however, refused believing the Union prisoners might go home but the Confederate prisoners might go back to fight another day.
Captain Henry Wirz was unfairly charged of war crimes and even though witnesses for the defense could testify, his fate was already decided. Among those who knew of Wirzs innocence was a Union soldier who was a prisoner at Andersonville.
Wirz was executed in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 1865.
The Confederate Reenactors and Honor Guard of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 78 (Muckalee Guards) will perform the closing ceremony at the monument to Wirz in Andersonville placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (Georgia Division).
Yep. And there was actually a higher death rate among the guards too...
The South pleaded for an exchange of Confederate and Union prisoners.
They even released several prisoners and sent them to Lincoln to plead for medicine/prisoner exchanges. Lincoln didn't listen...
his fate was already decided.
Sure was. There were several charges brought against him. Most were by nameless prisoners. Many of the 'crimes' he supposedly committed were reported to have happened on days when he was gone on sick leave or even before he ever came to the camp...In most cases, there were no witnesses to the crime. In one where there was a witness, the witness later admitted to lying about it. And the persons supposedly harmed by Wirz must not have had any friends because nobody seemed to know their names.....pretty fishy
Really, there was a higher death rate among the guards? A higher death rate than 28%, reaching a rate eventually of 3,000 per month? Wow, this Wirz guy must have been one terrible commander.
Read some contemporary Southern diaries by the womenfolk. The conditions in the last few years among civilians were terrible. Among men in cramped conditions, worse.
Yes. You didn't realize there was a blockade (so food and medicine was hard to get) and that Union Armies burned up lots of crops?
Nazi guards also argued that camp inmates died of malnutrition because the war destroyed resources. But even if the Confederates claims were true, why the lack of water, sanitation, sewage removal, and timely, proper burial?
The same food as the guards? Strange Wirz didn't look like this.
Does your head hurt from falling on it?
And the death rate at Camp Douglas (Union) was 10% a month, more than any other Civil War prison in any 1-month period. The Sanitary Commission pointed out that at this rate, all the prisoners would be dead in 320 days. The majority of prison deaths were from typhoid fever and pneumonia, the result of filth, the bad weather, and a lack of heat and clothing...a dismal report was given of an "amount of standing water, of unpoliced grounds, of foul sinks, of general disorder, of soil reeking with miasmic accretions, of rotten bones and emptying of camp kettles...Conditions at Camp Douglas were horrendous. Disease, hunger, poor sanitation, lack of adequate clothing, and miserably cold weather were endured by the men incarcerated there. This was in the North were they had plenty of resources. What was their excuse?
Oh, btw, did you know that they even built two tall wooden towers just outside Camp Douglas and for a small fee visitors were allowed to ascend to take a look at the prisoners below...
Oh, and the pic is obviously one of the worst cases...who wants boring pics of the rest of the prisoners when you can get one of the sickest prisoner who was obviously unable to even walk to the food line? In statistics this man is an outlier. You need to compare to pics of the rest of the prisoners instead of using the absolute worst case and making it seem like it is representative of the whole.... Just sayin'
What, did you think I made it up? That’s so sad....
Then why weren't tens of thousands of Georgia civilians starving to death? And what medicine would have treated malnutrition, exposure, cholera, typhus, typhoid, and the like?
Wirz may or may not have deserved his fate, but it is an undeniable fact that his superiors deserved to be on the gallows with him. And, in fairness, so did many Union officers who mistreated rebel prisoners in their care.
No, I think you suffered an injury to your brain that may have caused permenant damage.
Many were starving. Of course, unlike prisoners, they often had the option of leaving an area if they could in order to better survive. Prison camps weren't very portable...
And what medicine would have treated malnutrition exposure...
Who said the medicine was for the malnutrition? Goodness....
It is sad that you are under such a delusion. Really. Btw, have you ever done any reading this topic? Just curious... :)
Then surely there are some figures supporting this? Some statistics?
And what medicine would have treated malnutrition exposure...
You were the one who mentioned how the blockade denied the south food and medicine. I was merely pointing out that there was no medicine for the primary causes of death among the Union prisoners. What they needed, and did not get, was decent food, shelter, and clean water.
And if all fairness the Union hands are not clean in this area. Both sides could have treated their prisoners better, but did not. Both could have provided proper food and shelter, but did not. Both could have done more to cut the death rate, but did not. The acts were deliberate on the part of both sides, and both sides deserve condemnation for it.
Considering that according to confederate law, black Union POWs were to be returned to slavery then the difference in treatment, if in fact there was any, could be attributed to the fact that the black POWs were someones valuable property.
Yes! FOOD and medicine. I didn't say the medicine was for the malnutrition. The food was obviouly for that....goodness. How did you not understand that?
One wonders why Tecumseh couldn’t have held up his arsonist long enough to go down to Andersonville? I guess pillaging has it’s priority...
Yeah, those blizzards in the deep south were just unbearable. But, yes, Camp Douglas scandalized many in the North, too. I didn’t say that it was great, either... but no-one’s calling those commanders a hero.
Probably because by the time Sherman began his campaign to the sea, Andersonville had been emptied and the survivors sent to Camp Millen and Camp Lawton. Some were late shifted back to Andersonville once Sherman was in Savannah. Link
* When Andersonville Chief Surgeon R. Randolph Stevenson was found to have embezzled $100,000 (in 1864 money!!!!) from Andersonville, Wirz wasn’t horrified at the thousands of deaths this embezzlement caused; rather, he regarded Stevenson as a great man.
* Wirz placed the grease depot and hospital upstream from the camp’s only water source, despite being warned that would poison the prisoners.
* When the local newspaper reported that conditions were just fine at the camp, why didn’t Wirz correct them?
* Worst war crime in U.S. history planned Convinced that a Union raid on Andersonville is imminent, Brigadier General and Post Commander John H. Winder orders the artillery to open a cannonade of canister shot into the stockade if Federal troops attack the compound.
* Not enough resources for improvements? With 2,650 guards assigned to the prison?
Death toll at Andersonville: 14,000, in roughly one year of full operation.
Death toll at Douglas (”Andersonville of the Union”): 4,454 (official). Maybe up to 6,000, in four years of full operation. Most due to blizzards.
Andersonville: Camp filled with feces, in some places several feet deep. No clean water. No sewage disposal. No laundry. No cleaning.
Douglas: Latrines with plumbing, bath and laundry facilities.
Andersonville: Hospital built inside prison, over water source, contaminating water.
Douglas: Prisoners released to outside doctors for medical care, despite refusals of many doctors to return prisoners.
Oh yes, and why DID the North refuse prison exchanges? Not only the fear that the Confederate soldiers would return to combat (being as most of them were quite healthy enough to), but also because the Confederacy refused to include blacks in the exchanges. When blacks were included, the exchanges did commence.
I have found the comments here absolutely fascinating. The major point has been completely missed.
The WBTS was one of the greatest civil wars of all time. Civil wars are especially effective, for fairly obvious reasons, at generating atrocities, followed by revenge atrocities and by massive retaliation at the end by the winners against the losers. This pattern is nearly universal in civil wars that last more than a short time.
It is estimated the Civil Wars in the UK caused a drop in population varying from 10% in England to 15% in Scotland to over 25% in Ireland.
The long series of religious wars in France had similar effects.
Somewhere between 20M and 50M people died in the Taiping Rebellion about the same time as our war.
The Spanish Civil War in the 30s had somewhere around 250,000 civilians dying in the war, often massacred, and another 100,000 to 150,000 executed by the victors.
The Russian and Chinese civil wars had proportional or greater death tolls.
And some American southerners have the nerve to complain about the horrendous oppression involved when one southerner was executed after losing the war?
It is arguable that Wirz was executed unfairly, although the story is by no means perfectly clear. As NS and others have pointed out, there should have been at least several dozen responsible officers hanged after the war for how they treated prisoners, in both North and South.
In the book the author attributes the blacks treatment due to the respect that the Confederates had for them because they were fighting for their freedom. This issue was directly addressed in the book. Since the book was published in 1865 it is a primary reference and considered untainted by later writers placing their prejudices into history. The blacks were given more details outside of the prison that allowed them to forage and obtain food and some clothing. He also stated that Southern women would come to the prison and hand out food to the prisoners. Overall the book was damning toward Henry Wirz.
If the rebel forces respected black Union soldiers for their fight for freedom then why did they habitually murder them rather than let them surrender? Why did confederate law state that any black soldier captured would be returned to slavery and his white officers tried and executed for supporting slave insurrection?
Since the book was published in 1865 it is a primary reference and considered untainted by later writers placing their prejudices into history.
Sounds more like revisionist fantasy to me.
Look it up...Since it doesn’t fit your agenda you ignore it. You are the one that is revising a Yankee soldiers observations.
You mean Life and Death in Rebel Prisons by Robert H. Kellogg (published by L. Stebbins, Hartford, 1865)?
Did he (or his informants) say black POWs at Andersonville were better taken care of by Southerners than White prisoners, or that slaves were better treated than Andersonville prisoners?
Or neither of those things?
A facimile of the book is available at Google Books.
It's hard to read a whole book online, but if you want to give a page number we can all check it out.
I ignore it because it's nonsense.
At Andersonville, A number of the 54th Mass. regiment, and some others, were already of our number, and they were universally treated better than we white soldiers. They were taken outside every day to perform some labor,and allowed double rations, and also the privilege of buying things outside and bringing them into the prison at evening and selling them to such as had any money, for a good round price in "greenbacks".
Black freedmen at Andersonville fared better than whites according to the men with which they were imprisoned. The 7th Tennessee Cavalry, USA, which was captured at Union City, Tennessee, suffered the highest loss of men per capita of all of the regiments interred at Andersonville. Tennessee Unionists were frowned upon and were dealt some of the harshest treatment.
Thanks for the link - it’s been slow progress but fascinating reading. I’m still looking for the “revisionism” ;-)
Thanks to the exercise and extra rations, they had a higher survival rate than White prisoners. Perhaps they were more used to the climate and conditions as well.
It's not clear that working on construction projects was intended as a kindness to African-American prisoners or that the captors accorded them "the privilege" of buying things outside to sell in the camp, though they might have done so on their own.
White officers of Black detachments received worse treatment at Andersonville than their counterparts from White regiments. According to Bob O'Connor's The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison they were not allowed the privileges of officers and were denied medical attention.