1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Andersonville

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ANDERSONVILLE, a village of Sumter county, Georgia, U.S.A., in the S.W. part of the state, about 60 m. S.W. of Macon, on the Central of Georgia railway. Pop. (1910) 174. From November 1863 until the close of the Civil War it was the seat of a Confederate military prison. A tract of 161/2 acres of land near the village was cleared of trees and enclosed with a stockade. Prisoners began to arrive in February 1864, before the prison was completed and before adequate supplies had been received, and in May their number amounted to about 12,000. In June the stockade was enlarged so as to include 261/2 acres, but the congestion was only temporarily relieved, and in August the number of prisoners exceeded 32,000. No shelter had been provided for the inmates: the first arrivals made rude sheds from the débris of the stockade; the others made tents of blankets and other available pieces of cloth, or dug pits in the ground. Owing to the slender resources of the Confederacy, the prison was frequently short of food, and even when this was sufficient in quantity it was of a poor quality and poorly prepared on account of the lack of cooking utensils. The water supply, deemed ample when the prison was planned, became polluted under the congested conditions. During the summer of 1864 the prisoners suffered greatly from hunger, exposure and disease, and in seven months about a third of them died. In the autumn, after the capture of Atlanta, all the prisoners who could be moved were sent to Millen, Georgia and Florence, South Carolina. At Millen better arrangements prevailed, and when, after Sherman began his march to the sea, the prisoners were returned to Andersonville, the conditions there were somewhat improved. During the war 49,485 prisoners were received at the Andersonville prison, and of these about 13,000 died. The terrible conditions obtaining there were due to the lack of food supplies in the Confederate States, the incompetence of the prison officials, and the refusal of the Federal authorities in 1864 to make exchanges of prisoners, thus filling the stockade with unlooked-for numbers. After the war Henry Wirz, the superintendent, was tried by a court-martial, and on the 10th of November 1865 was hanged, and the revelation of the sufferings of the prisoners was one of the factors that shaped public opinion regarding the South in the Northern states, after the close of the Civil War. The prisoners’ burial ground at Andersonville has been made a national cemetery, and contains 13,714 graves of which 921 are marked “unknown.”

There is an impartial account of the Andersonville prison in James F. Rhodes, History of the United States (vol. v., New York, 1904). The partisan accounts are numerous; see, for instance, A. C. Hamlin, Martyria; or, Andersonville Prison (Boston, 1866); and R. R. Stevenson, The Southern Side; or, Andersonville Prison (Baltimore, 1876).