One hundred fifty years ago, this Nation was embroiled in a Civil War by far more serious than any encountered before or since. Americans faced each other on the battlefield and many were lost in the bitter struggles, but thousands were taken captive, and many were prisoner at Andersonville. In fourteen months of operation at the end of the Civil War, some 45,000 American soldiers were held prisoner on these grounds, and nearly 13,000 of them died in captivity.
The story of captivity is often very grim. Men and women, isolated from their comrades and loved ones, must be strong in mind and spirit to endure such circumstances. Andersonville can tell that story – the story of brave Americans who, confronted with adversity beyond imagination, struggled to retain their devotion to their country. Regardless of time period or location, the experience of captivity reflects the complexities of war for both the nation and for those individuals held prisoner. The staff at Andersonville National Historic Site works with former prisoners of war, descendants, and researchers to tell these complicated stories. These stories range from examinations of the legal status of prisoners of war, attempts to hold those who violate the laws of war accountable, to exploring popular mythology of Civil War prisons, to the heartfelt tale of a young girl who reached out to a nation to honor her father. These are only a few of the many stories told here at Andersonville, with many more still be discovered.
Did You Know?
Very little remains of the original Andersonville prison. On the grounds, only the earthworks remain. Housed in the National Prison of War Museum are the lock, key, and hinge reportedly from the South Gate along with a piece of the deadline and a post from the stockade. Relics from prisoners include