Andersonville: The Last Depot (Civil War America)
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Between February 1864 and April 1865, 41,000 Union prisoners of war were taken to the stockade at Anderson Station, Georgia, where nearly 13,000 of them died. Most contemporary accounts placed the blame for the tragedy squarely on the shoulders of the Confederates who administered the prison or on a conspiracy of higher-ranking officials. According to William Marvel, virulent disease and severe shortages of vegetables, medical supplies, and other necessities combined to create a crisis beyond the captors' control. He also argues that the tragedy was aggravated by the Union decision to suspend prisoner exchanges, which meant that many men who might have returned home were instead left to sicken and die in captivity.
anticipated so tidy a catch, and the first group of prisoners went three days without food; their guards dared not even allow them off the cars to sleep at night, so sullen were the eyes that peered from the darkness. 56 The first lot emerged from the sweltering cars at two-thirty on the last day of April. They formed up six hundred strong while a Southern sergeant began taking their names. Though weary and sore from days on the thumping hardwood floors, they otherwise showed good health; the
be many weeks before the prison had been completely cleaned out of currency. 42 Andersonville -The Last Depot Page 81 Like most cities (and Andersonville would become the fifth largest in the Confederacy), this one included a host of tradesmen as well as merchants. Hardly an occupation could not boast at least one representative inside the palisade. Barbers could be found in any quadrant; at least one dentist practiced, and one doctor. Two well-supplied watchmakers found more than enough
stockade is visible at the upper right, and through the gaps in the second palisade (National Archives). Page 100 Andersonville -The Last Depot Postwar Andersonville: View of the ditch outside the earthwork on the northwest corner of the stockade, about 1868; the photographer has spun his camera about 150 degrees to the right from the preceding photo (National Archives). Page 101 Andersonville -The Last Depot The Andersonville cemetery shortly after the 1865 improvements (National
home, seen six or seven weeks of brutal campaigning, and now they found themselves cast into incredible crowding and filth; within another hour they could add the vivid memory of a mass execution to their list of adventures. Unable to find immediate space, many of these neophytes probably lingered along South Street, wondering at the portentous construction before them. 61 Around four o’clock, while regulators tied six nooses close together upon the crossbeam, the skies burst once more, soaking
prison with enough velocity to suck the brandnew drinking and bathing flumes with it, taking a good part of the sinks, too. Boards, dead line, and stockade posts all snarled in a logjam just above the hospital. 69 Andersonville -The Last Depot Page 133 All sixteen of Camp Sumter’s guns stood mounted now in the various forts around the prison, and two of them burped a sodden blank cartridge apiece. Muffled as they were, the twin reports brought Georgians running with muskets in their hands.