Captain Henry Wirz
Captain Henry Wirz was born in Switzerland and emigrated to the United States in 1849. After his marriage in 1854, he and his family moved to Louisiana, and when the Civil War started he joined the 4th Louisiana Infantry, Company A. After receiving a severe wound in his right arm, he was assigned to work for General John Winder, superintendent of military prisons. In this capacity, Captain Wirz was assigned command of the military prisons in Richmond, Virginia.
In April 1864, he was assigned to the command of the military prison at Andersonville. His area of command covered only the inside the stockade. He did not have direct control over guards or supplies. Therefore, he could do little about securing better food rations or improving living conditions. Even given those limitations, he still chose to withhold already inadequate rations as a disciplinary measure. Further challenged by ill health, Wirz remained in charge of the prison stockade and the prisoners inside to the very end of the war. At the beginning of May 1865, Wirz was arrested by Federal officers in Americus, Georgia.
After the war, he was tried for violations of the laws of war. His trial, by a military tribunal, took place between August 23 and October 18, 1865. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out on November 10, 1865 and he was buried in the yard of the Old Arsenal in Washington, D.C. His remains were later moved to Mt. Olivet Cemetery near Washington.
Did You Know?
Andersonville National Historic Site is the only park in the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. More...