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.
Page 192 14. Newspaper clipping, Manigault scrapbook; Seventh U.S. Census (M-432), Louisville, Ky. (reel 206:154) and Trigg County, Ky. (reel 219:319), RG29; Trigg County Marriage Docket, 1820–1857:159; Trigg County Wills, Book F:72–73; Perrin, Counties of Christian and Trigg, 2:98; Judith Ann Maupin, “Trigg County Cemeteries,” UK, 234–35. 15. Eighth U.S. Census, Madison Parish, La. (M-653, reel 413:5), RG29; OR 3:711. 16. CMH 13:322c; OR 3:711; Trial, 700; Merrell, Five Months in Rebeldom,
contraband from civilians, but he did not hesitate to arrest a guard for shooting one of the prisoners. That autumn his tenure in Richmond was interrupted by a mission to Alabama and Mississippi, where he went looking for the missing rolls of six thousand Union prisoners. After further search for them in Charleston, Savannah, Macon, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, and Vicksburg, Wirz telegraphed Colonel Ould that he could not find the records. The exchange commissioner responded that Wirz could
commissary funds, local purchasing agents began advertising for unlimited quantities of corn and bacon right after the general took command, and the prisoners noticed an immediate improvement in their rations. Work resumed soon afterward on the prison sinks and Stockade Creek, with a view toward reclaiming the offensive swamp and realizing Henry Wirz’s double-dam notion, and carpenters began building a new cookhouse on the plateau beyond the stockade extension, to avoid contaminating the prison
no longer walk and his teeth were falling out. A cavalryman who had arrived only a few days before observed that the majority of prisoners were too weak to make the round-trip to the sinks unaided, let alone to fight their way to freedom and begin the long trek north. Many of those who owned the grit or vigor did not even know of the opportunity until it had passed: a rainstorm usually brought out a multitude of bathers— a Pennsylvanian said the prison looked white with naked men in the downpour
remain confined for the next thirty-two hours. 46 Counted by a hand that may or may not have been Wirz’s, a few more detachments plodded out in the morning twilight of September 8 and headed toward Macon with their fists full of cornbread and bacon. From Macon they turned sharply to the right, down the Savannah road, creeping along in rickety cars on wornout railbeds. Pining to follow, their former neighbors watched the black smoke of their passage disappear into the north, but the railroad could