Andersonville National Historic Site to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Andersonville Prison and the Experiences of Civil War Prisoners of War
Contact: Eric Leonard, 229 924-0343, ext. 201
Contact: Stephanie Steinhorst, 229 924-0343, ext. 203
Contact: Chris Barr, 229 924-0343, ext. 207
ANDERSONVILLE, Georgia – Andersonville National Historic Site will offer a series of events and programs to mark the Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) of the Andersonville Prison throughout 2014 and 2015.
The Civil war transformed a nation. Not only was slavery abolished, but citizenship was redefined and the federal union was strengthened. "Andersonville National Historic Site provides visitors with the opportunity to understand, reflect upon and deepen their appreciation of our shared history and the relevance of this period to society today," said Superintendent Brad Bennett. "Commemorating the story of the Andersonville prison presents a unique challenge," Bennett continued, "As opposed to a battle conducted over days or weeks, the Civil War prisoner of war story is a longer, more complicated tragedy measured, in the words of one prisoner, 'by inches.'"
The fourteen-month long operation of the Camp Sumter Military Prison, commonly known as Andersonville, is an entry point to a tragic story of the consequences of war. In a war that divided not only states, but families, the experience of prisoners of war touched almost every American home.
In addition to exploring Andersonville prison and the stories of the men held here, Andersonville National Historic Site is charged with providing "an understanding of the overall prisoner of war story of the Civil War," and to acknowledge the shared experiences of prisoners in the North and South.
Every two months during the anniversary period, the park will focus on a single word theme that represents the events, conditions, or emotions of prisoners during the war. To expand the prisoner story, the park will also feature other Civil War prisons and draw on their stories to present a fuller picture of the captivity experience.
A wide variety of programs during this time will explore the prison site and the prison experience at Andersonville while also addressing the larger story at other military prison, in the north and south.
Beginning in February 2014, "First Saturday" programs held on the first Saturday of each month will use the monthly theme to explore the prison story and discuss each featured prison. These programs will vary from month to month.
The largest events to commemorate the Andersonville story will occur the third weekend in September 2015. Events scheduled for that weekend include a two night Memorial Illumination at the prison site and a Funeral for Thirteen Thousand. On September 18 & 19, 2015, volunteers will place nearly 13,000 luminaries on the prison site; each representing the death of a United States soldier during the fourteen month operation of the prison. On those evenings, the luminaries will be viewable by driving the prison loop road after dark. On September 19, 2015 Andersonville National Cemetery will host a ceremony to remember the nearly 13,000 American soldiers who died while held captive at Andersonville prison, part of the 56,000 Americans who died as prisoners of war during the Civil War. This service will be the funeral they never received.
These programs and events depend on the support of volunteers. Volunteers can assist with special events, lead tours, work in the museum, and serve as living historians. Living History volunteers assist visitors in better understanding the prisoner of war experience by portraying individuals present at Andersonville during the Civil War. Learn more at go.nps.gov/livinghistoryprisoners To find out how you can help, please contact the park at 229 924-0343.
For more information on anniversary programs, please visit the park website at: http://go.nps.gov/cwprisons
"The story of the Andersonville and the other military prisons remains a very emotional one, even 150 years later," said Chief of Interpretation and Education Eric Leonard, "we hope that visitors will join us over the next two years to learn more about this time when we held each other prisoner."
Andersonville National Historic Site is located 10 miles south of Oglethorpe, GA and 10 miles northeast of Americus, GA on Georgia Highway 49. The national park 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 the only national park within the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Park grounds are open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The National Prisoner of War Museum is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Admission is free. For more information on the park, call 229 924-0343, or visit at www.nps.gov/ande/ Visitus on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/andeNHS
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Did You Know?
Around 30,000 Americans were kept as prisoners of war in and around New York City during the Revolutionary War. Most of these prisoners were held in warehouses, churches, and on ships in nearby harbors. An estimated 18,000 (60%) died as prisoners from 1775 to 1783. Of those, over 10,000 are thought to have perished on prison ships, most notably the Whitby and the Jersey.