• North HillSide Photomerge


    National Historic Site Georgia

American Indians at Andersonville


Illustration of Battese, published in John Ransom's memoir.

NPS/Andersonville National Historic Site

The Camp Sumter military prison, commonly called Andersonville, was built in 1864 to hold Union prisoners of war captured by the Confederate army. Soldiers and civilian support personnel from 26 states and the District of Columbia were imprisoned at Andersonville. This population, which numbered over 45,000 by the end of the war, reflected the diverse nature of the United States; in addition to men from several foreign countries and African-American soldiers was a small population of American Indian soldiers.

In prisoner John Ransom's post-war account of his prison experiences, his survival depended greatly upon his friendship with "Battese", who he described as a Minnesota Indian. It is likely that this name is an alias, as he cannot be located in an examination of Minnesota military records.

The largest identifiable group of American Indians held at Andersonville were members of Company K, First Michigan Sharpshooters. Company K was composed primarily of Native Americans of the United States, especially members of the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations. Seven of these men perished while held prisoner, and are buried in the Andersonville National Cemetery. In 2010 a small group of American Indians of several tribes from Michigan paid tribute to these men.

Men in ceremonial dress standing before a stone monument
Participants in the 2010 memorial service for the men of Company K, First Michigan Sharpshooters.
NPS/Alan Marsh

Did You Know?

Bronze panel showing a prison scene on the back of a stone monument

Most visitors exploring Andersonville National Cemetery are unaware that the New York monument has an image sculpted on the reverse side of the memorial. The image on the reverse depicts two Andersonville prisoners. One is seen as dejected while the other appears hopeful. An angel approaches the prisoners carrying an olive branch, the symbol of peace, which was used to represent the reconciliation between the North and the South. More...