Andersonville Prison Facts

Andersonville Prison Facts
Andersonville Prison, also known originally as Camp Sumter, was a Confederate military prison that existed for 14 months during the American Civil War. It opened in February, 1864 near Andersonville, Georgia, and originally covered roughly 16.5 acres of land. By June of the same year the prison had grown to 26.5 acres. The prisoners experienced lack of food, and poor sanitation, which made them vulnerable to disease. In May, 1965 the prison was liberated, and the commandant of the prison was subsequently tried for war crimes against the prisoners. The prison is now part of the Andersonville National Historic Site, which includes the National Prisoner of War Museum and the Andersonville National Cemetery.
Interesting Andersonville Prison Facts:
The population inside Andersonville Prison's walls in April, 1864 was 7,160. By the end of August the same year the population had risen to 31,693.
19 feet inside the wall of Andersonville Prison there was a fence built, often referred to as 'the dead line', which meant that any prisoner who touched the dead line was shot by guards.
The prison camp was rectangular in shape and had a 15 foot tall stockade around the grounds.
The commandant was Captain Henry Wirz. He was accused and tried for war crimes following the war and hanged for his crimes.
Of the 45,000 Union soldiers held at Andersonville Prison during the Civil War, 13,000 died.
The main causes of death among prisoners at Andersonville Prison were dysentery, scurvy, and diarrhea, but they also suffered from malaria, cholera, typhoid, and smallpox. Some historians believe many died from war crimes committed against them by the Confederates.
The prisoners at the camp often had to rely on a water source that was unsafe. It was a creek that had fecal matter in it from other soldiers who were sick.
The food given to the prisoners consisted of corn meal, bean soup, salt pork, and pickled beef. Because of the lack of vegetables and fruit many prisoners developed scurvy and other diseases of malnutrition.
The Andersonville Raiders were a group of prisoners that would often raid other prisoners and steal their belongings, including clothes, food, and any other items they felt were valuable.
A group called the Regulators rose up against the Andersonville Raiders and punished them for their crimes, even hanging some of them.
The prison records kept count of the number of escapees. Of the 351 that escaped, most were recaptured. Approximately 32 of the escapees returned to the Union side while others returned to normal civilian life.
In 1998 the National Prisoner of War Museum opened at the Andersonville National Historic Site. It is meant to be a memorial to all Americans who have been prisoners-of-war.
The Andersonville National Cemetery is the resting place for the Union prisoners who died at the prison as well as more recent war veterans. There are 921 graves marked 'unknown' at the cemetery because the names of these Union soldiers are not known.
Most of the prisons during the American Civil War were considered death traps because of the poor conditions. 13,000 of the 56,000 prisoner-of-war deaths occurred at Andersonville Prison.


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