Son of Andersonville Guard Visits Prison Camp Site
Contact: Alan Marsh, 229 924-0343, ext. 115
Contact: Eric Leonard, 229 924-0343, ext. 110
(Andersonville, Georgia) On April 30, 2011 Mr. Henry V. Booth, son of Private Isham Johnson Booth, visited the infamous prisoner of war camp at Andersonville where his father served in the final year of the Civil War. The visit was arranged by Andersonville National Historic Site and the Alexander H. Stephens Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
H. V. Booth toured the site of the prisoner of war camp at Andersonville and recalled stories his father told of his experiences in the 1st Georgia Reserves. Private Isham Booth was sixteen years old when he arrived for duty at Camp Sumter, the official name for Andersonville Prison. He was one of many boys with the Georgia Reserves who witnessed horrible conditions for prisoners and guards alike. During the fourteen months the prison camp was in operation over 45,000 Union soldiers passed through its gates. Almost 13,000 died and were buried in the nearby cemetery.
The guard force was not immune to the difficulties and diseases at Camp Sumter. Lack of supplies, inadequate food, and disease struck their ranks as well. One hundred eighteen of the 226 guards who died were buried in the cemetery, not far from the Union dead. Private Booth became ill himself and returned home to Elbert County with a fever early in 1865. He recuperated and was on his way back to Andersonville when he received word the war was over.
Isham Booth was in his 70s when his youngest son Henry Victor was born. The younger Booth knew his dad had served in the Confederate Army and on rare occasions heard stories about his time at Andersonville. The son heard enough to know that the memories were not pleasant ones. His dad told of the lack of water in the small stream that flowed through the camp, diseases that plagued prisoners and guards, and the memory of a Union soldier that collapsed and died in front of him.
Booth, a veteran of World War II, can relate to war and its consequences. Asked how it felt to walk in the footsteps of his father at Andersonville, Booth replied, "It gives you a funny feeling, from deep within. The first time I was ever here I told them the air was different here. I told them that God was blowing his breath on us." Henry Booth was pleased that people from all over the world travel to Andersonville and learn about the difficulties experienced by prisoners and guards during the Civil War. He thinks about his dad as a sixteen year old boy, standing in a guard tower at the mass of humanity within the walls. "If he could see this place now and remember what it was like when he was here he would be proud of it."
While in southwest Georgia, Mr. Booth also spoke at the Confederate Memorial Day Service at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Americus, Georgia, the final resting place of Confederate guards who died while in service at Camp Sumter during the Civil War.
Andersonville National Historic Site is located 10 miles south of Oglethorpe, GA and 10 miles northeast of Americus, GA on Georgia Highway 49. The site features the National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville National Cemetery and the site of the historic Civil War prison, Camp Sumter. Andersonville National Historic Site is a unit of the National Park System and serves as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Park grounds are open from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm with the museum opening at 8:30 am. Admission is free. For more information on the park, call 229 924- 0343, visit on the web at www.nps.gov/ande/, or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS
Did You Know?
A small number of Andersonville prisoners were able to grow crops such as beans and corn. Prisoner diaries and sketches mention this fact and a photograph taken in the summer of 1864 shows corn stalks growing near a shelter. Such an undertaking would require constant guard and demonstrates that prisoners knew they might be captives at Andersonville for quite some time.