ANDERSONVILLE CIVIL WAR POW SITE
My name is Kevin Frye and I live in Butler, Georgia,about 40 miles from the infamous Civil War site. I do online VOLUNTEER research at NO fee for anyone who just ask. I have many resources relating to Andersonville and I visit the site every other week or so in order to take grave photos ( for a small fee ) and to have access to the onsite database and museum library. My resources I have here at home are as follows.
I have online links to the prisoner lookup sites by name, or by regiment and company.
I own a copy of the Atwater Death List which helps when the online database is down.
I have a CD with information of 34,000 of the 54,000 prisoners who were held there which helps in finding alternate spellings.
Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it is officially known,was the largest of many Confederate military prisons established during the Civil War. It was built early in 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners kept in and around Richmond, Virginia, to a place of greater security and a more abundant food supply. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements.
The prison pen initially covered about 16 1/2 acres of land enclosed by a 15-foot-high stockade of hewn pine logs. It was enlarged to 26 1/2 acres in June 1864. The stockade was in the shape of a parallelogram 1,620 feet long and 779 feet wide. Sentry boxes, or "pigeon roosts" as the prisoners called them, stood at 30-yard intervals along the top of the stockade. Inside, about 19 feet from the wall, was the "deadline," which the prisoners were forbidden to cross upon threat of death. Flowing through the prison yard was a stream called Stockade Branch, which supplied water to the most of the prison. Two entrances, the North Gate and the South Gate, were on the west side of the stockade. Eight small earthen forts located around the exterior of the prison were equipped with artillery to quell disturbances within the compound and to defend against feared Union cavalry attacks.
The first prisoners were brought to Andersonville in February 1864. During the next few months approximately 400 more arrived each day until, by the end of June, some 26,000 men were confined in a prison area originally intended to hold 10,000. The largest number held at any one time was more than 32,000-about the population of present-day Sumter County-in August 1864. Handicapped by deteriorating economic conditons, and inadequate transportation system, and the need to concentrate all available resources on its army, the Confederate government was unable to provide adequate housing, food, clothing, and medical care to their Federal captives. These conditions, along with a breakdown of the prisoner exchange system, resulted in much suffering and a high mortality rate. On July 9, 1864, Sgt. David Kennedy of the 9th Ohio Cavalry wrote in his diary: "Wuld that I was an artist and had the material to paint this camp and all its horors or the tongue of some eloquent Statesman and had the privleage of expresing my mind to our hon. rulers at Washington, I should gloery to decribe this hell on Earth where it takes 7 of its ocupiants to make a Shadow."
.When Gen. William T. Sherman's Union forces occupied Atlanta on September 2, 1864, bringing Federal cavalry columns with easy striking distance of Andersonville, Confederate authorities moved most of the prisoners to other camps in South Carolina and coastal Georgia. From then until May 1865, Andersonville was operated on a smaller basis. When the war ended, Capt. Henry Wirz, the stockade commander, was arrested and charged with conspiring with high Confederate officials to "impair and injure the health and destroy the lives...of Federal prisoners" and "murder, in violation of the laws of war." Such a conspiracy never existed, but public anger and indignation throughout the North over the conditions at Andersonville demanded appeasement. Tried and found guilty by a military tribunal, Wirz was hanged in Washington, D.C., on November 10, 1865. A monument to Wirz, erected by the Georgia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, stands today in the town of Andersonville.
Andersonville prison ceased to exist in May 1865. Some former prisoners remained in Federal service, but most returned to the civilian occupations they had before the war. During July and August 1865, Clara Barton, a detachment of laborers and soldiers, and a former prisoner named Dorence Atwater, came to Andersonville cemetery to identify and mark the graves of the Union dead. As a prisoner, Atwater was assigned to record the names of the deceased Union soldiers for the Confederates. Fearing loss of the death record at war's end, Atwater made his own copy in hopes of notifying the relatives of some 12,000 dead interred at Andersonville. Thanks to his list and the Confederate records confiscated at the end of the war, only 460 of the Andersonville graves had to be marked "unknown U. S. soldier."
The prison site reverted to private ownership in 1875. In December 1890 it was purchased by the Georgia Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans organization. Unable to finance improvements needed to protect the property, this group sold it for $1 to the Woman's Relief Corps, the national auxiliary of the G.A.R. The Woman's Relief Corps made many improvements to the area with the idea of creating a memorial park. Pecan trees were planted to produce nuts for sale to help maintain the site and states began erecting commemorative monuments. The W.R.C. built the Providence Spring House in 1901 to mark the site where, on August 9, 1864, a spring burst forth during a heavy summer rainstorm-an occurrence many prisoners attributed to Divine Providence. The fountain bowl in the Spring House was purchased through funds raised by former Andersonville prisoners.
In 1910 the Woman's Relief Corps donated the prison site to the people of the United States. It was administered by the War Department and its successor, the Department of the Army, until its designation as a national historic site. Since July 1, 1971, the park has been administered by the National Park Service.
THE DORENCE ATWATER DEATH LIST
ONLINE LOOKUP DATABASE
LIST OF GUARDS WHO DIED AT CAMP SUMTER
MORE SERVICES I OFFER
CAMP SUMTER: TIMELINE OF EVENTS