As in any society or social order there was good and bad at Andersonville. Good men tried to help others, shared their meager rations with friends and nursed fellow prisoners when they were ill. On the other side was a band of people who would have been bad in any society, but due to the shortage of food these people pillaged, beat and murdered their fellow prisoners for their food and material goods. These people were known as the "Raiders". Their activity was reported in the diary of John Ransom of the 9th Michigan Cavalry, on April 28, 1864 "Raiders do about as they please, and their crimes would fill more paper than I have to my disposal." The majority of these men had been attracted to military service by the rewards of bounty-jumping and had been captured before they could collect their bounties and find an opportunity to desert. On June 20th, Michael Daughtry of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry wrote, "It is reported that the remains of a man was found in a tent buried. The tent belongs to a bunch of Raiders. It appears they killed him, robbed him and then buried him in their tent and slept over the body." According to diary entries the Raider rendezvous point was at the southwest end of the prison.
The Raider's standard of living was far superior to the rest of the prisoners in the stockade, and fear of punishment, which in organized society may be a deterrent to crime, was non-existent within the walls. There were hundreds of Raiders and they were broken down into detachments led by so-called Chieftains, such as "Collin's Raiders", "Curtis' Raiders", etc. The chieftains were Charles Curtis, John Sarsfield, Partick Delaney, William Collins, Cary Sullivan, and A. Munn, (Muir). According to John Ransom, at the beginning of July the Raiders were getting more bold. They pounced on new prisoners, right out in the open, with no attempt to concealment. About 2,000 prisoners that arrived in May provided excellent pickings for the robbers. Captured at Plymouth, North Carolina, they had just been paid and had full knapsacks. They were known as the "Plymouth Pilgrams," and they were an easy mark for the Raiders, who victimized the 'fresh fish', attacking, robbing, and if need be, murdering them. The Raiders had many advantages over their victims. They were better fed and carried better weapons, such as larger clubs, brass knuckles, and knives. Also these ruffians were used to brawling while their victims were not. Pvt. John Northrup of the 76th New York Infantry wrote in his diary on June 29th, "Steps are taken to organize a police force. An order came from Captain Wirz that if we wished to take them, (the Raiders), outside, he would furnish a guard, we to point them out, and he would "clear the stockade", bully for the Captain." The real orgainizer of this body, known as the Regulators, is Sergeant Leroy L. Key of an Illinois regiment. The organization was made up of western men, from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.
On June 30th General John H. Winder issued the following order: General Orders No. 57, Camp Sumter, Andersonville, Georgia, June 30, 1864. A gang of evil-disposed persons among the prisoners of war at this post having banded themselves together for the purpose of assaulting, murdering, and robbing their fellow-prisoners, and having already committed all of these deeds, it becomes necessary to adopt measures to protect the lives and property of the prisoners against the acts of these men, and in order that this may be accomplished, the well-disposed prisoners may, and they are hereby authorized to establish a court among themselves for the trial and punishment of such offenders. On such trials the charges will be distinctly made with specifications setting forth the time and place, copy of which will be furnished the accused. The whole proceedings will be properly kept in writing, all the testimony will be fairly written out as nearly in the words of the witnesses as possible. The proceedings, findings, and sentence in each case will be sent to the commanding officer for record, and if found in order and proper, the sentence will be ordered for execution. By order of Brig. Gen. John H. Winder, W. S. Winder, Assistant Adjutant General.
One of the prisoners reported, "the Regulators, as they call themselves, are headed by a stout fellow whom they call Lumber Jim. He is an Artillery Sergeant and wears a fancy red shirt, a sailor cap and has a lurid red stripe on the pants." On July 4th, John E. Warren from the 7th Wisconsin Artillery, wrote in his diary, "So far as I know the idea that brought about the overthrow of the murderous Raiders came from Wirz himself; and it is certain that the efforts of 'Lumber Jim', (James Laughlin), Key, Corrigan, Larkin, Johnson, and others, of the 'law and order' organization, and of the police force, all of whom deserve great credit in arresting the 'Raiders' would have been fruitless but for the cooperation of Wirz." Throughout the beginning days of July the Raiders were rounded up and sent to the outside of the prison for either punishment or trial. On July 5th, Lessel Long of the 13th Indiana Infantry reported, "Feeling some reluctance to proceeding against the Raiders they were about to release them without punishment, otherwise than a few kicks, when a Corporal of Company G, the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, familiarly known in prison as 'Big Pete', came into the crowd, and taking the Raider fearlessly in hand, inflicted summary punishment upon him by shaving half of his head and face, giving no heed to the desperado's savage gnashing of teeth and threats of vengeance, except to thump his head at each beginning and repetition of them. After dealing out justice in this off-hand manner, and an administrative reminder, (in the rear), from a pair of the heaviest of cowhides, the thief was released, with admonitions to sin no more." "This, I believe, was the first instance of formal punishment for such misdemeanors; and thereafter Big Pete, by virtue of these services, became the terror of evil-doers. Pete exhibited so much courage at this time, and subsequently so much good sense and natural judgement, that he gradually became the administrative power for the punishment of the offenses committed. He performed for us the services of shaving, and in a dignified, impartial manner gave the culprit a trial...hearing the statements of both sides before pronouncing judgement and inflicting punishment, both of which, however, were often condensed into the last act. Few exceptions were taken to his rulings, for who could object to the persuasive arguments of one who wore such heavy boots?"
Some prisoners helped with the arrest of the Raiders and in doing ransacked their quarters, the hunt yielding quantities of blankets, greenbacks, and jewelry. They tore down the Raider's shebangs to be used for their own convenience. Those Raiders who were the followers of the "Chieftains" who were found guilty were made to run the gauntlet, where several of them were killed. The prisoners formed two lines and the guilty had to run in between the lines through a barrage of stones and clubs. Others were sentenced to wear balls and chains, while still others were set in the stocks or strung up by their thumbs. For the leaders' trial, Captain Wirz picked out 22 Sergeants who would be the jury for all six of them. On July 10th, Private John Northrup of the 7th Connecticut Infantry wrote in his diary, "It is announced tonight that six Raiders have been convicted and condemned to death, and are to be hanged tomorrow in the prison shortly after noon. The names of these convicts are Cary Sullivan, of the 76th New York, William Collins alias Moseby, of the 88th Pennsylvania, Charles Curtis of the 4th Rhode Island Artillery, John Sarsfield of the 144th New York, Patrick Delaney of the 83rd Pennsylvania, A. Muir alias Jack the Sailor of the United States Navy. Sullivan's given name, announced by the Regulators is Terrance, was carried on the Company roles as Cary. To carry out this grim project, Sergeant Keys and immediate assistants have got the use of timbers and tools and secured a few carpenters to build a scaffold." (*This is a diary quote and the units identified may be in error).
Who were these men who would be well known even 130 years later?
Patrick Delaney--Born in Ireland and drafted into the Army in Philadelphia, he was a Private in Company E, 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry. He had blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion and stood 5'8", was 23 and was a shoemaker in civilian life. He deserted 10/14/63 and was immediately captured. He was confined at Richmond and sent to Andersonville 3/21/64.
Charles F. Curtis--He was born in New Brunswick, drafted as a substitute in Providence, Rhode Island at the age of 21. He was a Private, Company A, 5th Rhode Island Artillery. He was a carpenter by trade. His eyes were hazel, hair light brown, complexion light and was 5'8" in height. He deserted the Army in January, 1864.
William Collins--Born in Nottingham, England, he enlisted in the Army, 10/31/61 at the age of 28 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a Private, broken from Corporal, with Company D, 88th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was 5'11" tall, complexion light, eyes grey and sandy hair. By occupation he had been a knitter. He deserted on the retreat from the Rapidan River 10/22/63 and went to Andersonville 3/14/64.
James Sarsfield--Born in Ireland in 1841, he was drafted at Brooklyn, New York on 9/1/63. He was a Private, Company C, 140th New York Infantry. He had grey eyes, brown hair light complexion and was 5'3 1/2" in height. He had been a shoemaker. He was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness on 5/5/64.
W. R. Rickson. No other information is available.
A. Munn(Muir)--Very little is known about Munn. He had been with the United States Navy.
General Winder approved the executions and according to the history of Andersonville by Ovid L. Futch, "On July 10th Father Whelan visited the condemned men in the stocks. Five of them were Catholics and received the consolations of their religious from the priest." Only July 11th, according to John Northrup, Wirz said: "Prisoners, I deliver these men to you in as good condition as I found them. I have had nothing to do in convicting them of crime of which they are accused except to lend my assistance for their and your protection; nor do I charge them or believe them guilty, and shall have nothing to do with the execution of your sentence. You have tried them; I have permitted it. You have convicted and sentenced them; if they are hung, you, not I, will be responsible for it. I deliver them to you; do with them as you please, and may God be with them and you. Guards about face; forward march." All but the priest moved out and the gate closed. This address was delivered from a paper in his hand said to have been prepared by Lt. Davis or some officer of the post. Intense excitement gripped the stockade. There was a densely packed crowd, including prisoners, teamsters, negroes and men and women outside the prison on a rise which commanded a view of the prison. There were rumors of a rescue attempt by the Raider's friends or an escape attempt by the prisoners. The guard was doubled and the artillery was pointed inward from all directions. On the afternoon of July 11th, the sentence was carried out and according to the writing of Sergeant Darus Starr of the 3rd United States Sharpshooters, "Six murderers mounted the scaffold at 4 1/2 o'clock p.m. One broke loose as he was mounting, but was recaptured and taken back. The trap fell at 5 o'clock, when one rope broke; the others held and then men were launched into eternity. The man who fell was immediately hung up again."
Lessel Long, of the 13th Indiana Infantry wrote, "All six were lined up and meal sacks were put over their heads and knotted ropes were adjusted around their necks. At a signal, planks were pulled from beneath their feet. Five of them died instantly but the weight of the 6th, Collins, was too heavy for the rope and it broke. The unconscious man had water thrown in his face, pleading for his life they hung him again." Lessel Long was also to report, "After the hanging of the six men, it was apparent to all that it was necessary to have a regular police force to preserve order, so the regular system was organized. Key was made Chief of Police, but owing to the active part he had taken in the hanging of the six Raiders, it was thought best that he would take a parole and be put out on detail duty, as the Raiders were determined to avenge the deaths of their leaders. Key sought and obtained a parole outside. Sergeant A. R. Hill, of the 100th Ohio, was made Chief in his place. Hill first came to notice on Belle Island, where he had an altercation with one Jack Oliver, of the 19th Indiana, Jack was a powerful man and thought it was his duty to thrash everybody on the Island. He got into a fuss with one of Hill's mess, and as usual, proceeded to give him a thrashing, when Hill interfered and knocked Jack down, giving him a tremendous thrashing. Ever after this Hill was considered one of the best men in the prison."
The six graves, set off from the honored dead, are still there. These six graves are the only ones in the Andersonville National Cemetery that are not decorated with an individual American flags each Memorial Day. The six were dishonorably discharged as a result of their crime against their fellow prisoners. On all of their military records the cause of death was noted as "asphyxia".