An increase in prisoners meant there were more soldiers who tried to
escape. Many tunnels were dug, and some prisoners did get out. Sometimes
for a mere morsel of food, prisoners would inform the authorities of
escape plans they were aware of, leading to the capture of men. Tunnels
were discovered 14 feet deep and from 90 to 100 feet long.
LIVING CONDITIONS AT ANDERSONVILLE PORTRAYED BY NPS VOLUNTEERS. (NPS)|
The guards numbered 1,178, many of whom were ill from whooping cough
and the measles. Most of the guards were raw recruits. The authorities
were always afraid that the prisoners would escape through the tunnels
and ravage the surrounding countryside. A letter from General Winder
dated June 24, 1864, echoed the need for more guards: "Twenty five
thousand men, by the mere force of numbers, can accomplish a great deal.
If successful, the result to the country would be much more disastrous
than a defeat of the armies; it would result in the total ruin and
devastation of this whole section of the country. Every house would be
burned, violence to women, destruction of crops, carrying off negroes,
horses, mules, and wagons. It is impossible to estimate the extent of
such a disaster. A little timely, prudent preparation will easily render
it impossible. At the bottom of this letter, he wrote, "We have just
discovered a tunnel reaching 130 feet outside the stockade." On June 20
it was reported that two guards had been hanged for attempting to escape
with the prisoners.
Camp Morton was located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The first prisoners
arrived on February 22, 1862. The camp closed in July, 1865. The camp
had run-down barracks and the hospital facilities were inadequate. The
prisoners did not have enough blankets or clothing. Rations were sparse.
During its existence, it was reported that Camp Morton held 12,082
prisoners and 1,763, or 14.6%, died.
The dead were buried at Greenlawn Cemetery. Some were taken south by
relatives after the war. The bodies were later moved to Section 32 of
Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. The location is marked by a stone
(UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA)|
While the month of June found the prison authorities pleading for
more guards, the doctors desperately sought more tents and supplies. The
new hospital on the outside of the prison had tents for 800, and there
were 1,035 in the hospital with another 3,000 sick in the compound. As
Private Aslaksan, 9th Minnesota Cavalry, later wrote, "The sight of all
this misery, the starved, dying and half-naked humans all around, those
with scurvy misshaped limbs, swollen limbs, swollen joints, and
festering sores infected with gangrene, all contributed to make the
newcomer so unnerved that he would soon get into a mental condition of
dispair out of which the ghost beacon of death seemed welcome."
May 28, 1864
A man named Turner; who lived near the prison kept a pack of
bloodhounds, and he was employed by Capt. Wirz to catch those who
escaped. Every morning at daylight the dogs were called together and
with their master, who was mounted on a large bay horse, they made a
circuit of the prison.
Private, Co. A,
13th U.S. Infantry
A select group of 300 prisoners worked on the outside of the
stockade. They went into the country to get vegetables and perform odd
jobs. They had a camp of their own with only one officer to guard them.
They chopped logs for the stockade addition, worked in the bakery where
provisions for the prisoners in the stockade were cooked, and worked as
carpenters. They also buried the dead and served as teamsters and
It was the end of June when, with the help of Captain Wirz, the
"Raiders" were identified and removed from the stockade for trial.
Throughout the existence of the camp these men had robbed, murdered and
in all ways made life even more horrible for the prisoners. A police
force had been organized within the prison called "The Regulators" which
was headed up by a man known as "Limber Jim."
ANDERSONVILLE PRISON AS SEEN BY JOHN L. RANSOM, LITHOGRAPH BY A. SACHSE
AND CO., 1882. (LC)|
June 1, 1864
Took a walk around camp. Deplorable sight. Some without clothing,
some in last agonies of death; others writhing under the pangs of
disease or wounds; some as black as mulattos with smoke and dirt.
Sgt., Co. B.
4th New Jersey Infantry
On June 30, under the signature of General Winder, it was determined
that the Raiders would be tried for crimes against their fellow
prisoners. Winder said in his order, "On such trials the charges will
be distinctly made with specifications setting forth time and place, a
copy of which will be furnished the accused. The proceedings, findings,
and sentence in each case will be sent to the commanding officer for
record, and if found in order and proper, the sentence will be ordered
The trial was held and some of the guilty Raiders were ordered to
wear a ball and chain, while others were strung up by their thumbs or
set in the stocks. Six of the leaders: Collins, Delaney, Curtis,
Rickson, Sarsfield and Munn, were found guilty of murder and were
ordered to be hanged. Their sentence was to be carried out the following
On July 11, 1864, the six Raider leaders were hanged. During the
execution attempt Collins' rope broke and he tried to escape. He was
caught by fellow prisoners and was hanged for a second time, begging for
HUTS BUILT ON THE DEADLINE, ANDERSONVILLE PRISON. AUGUST 1864.
PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN FROM A PIGEON ROOST, LOOKING NORTHEAST. (NA)|
On July 1 the addition to the prison had been completed, adding
another ten acres to the stockade. It was now 26-1/2 acres. There were
26,367 prisoners in the compound. At 10:00 in the morning the moving
commenced and it continued until sundown. At least 10,000 prisoners
crowded through an opening. Of the 90 detachments in the prison, 45
detachments were ordered to move. There was a stampede for the new
ground and many of the prisoners were hurt pressing through the 12-foot
opening. The crowd was so great that the sick, falling down in the
press, were trampled and killed; strong men became wedged between the
moving mass and the standing timbers. How many were killed outright is
not known. A large number of strong and weak alike were so injured that
they never recovered.
A CAMP SCENE (NPS)|
From the July 1 Sumter Republican: Andersonville Prison Camp
(called Camp Sumter in this story) has been enlarged. It is now 20 acres
sufficient for...50,000 of Linkhorn's hirelings. There are 27,000 there
now and 500 to 1000 a day...make applications for admittance. The
mortality is about fifty a day." Actually during the month of July,
1,817 diednearly 59 a day.
June 11, 1864
I went down to the gate and got the exact number of prisoners in the
bullpen both black and white and I found them to be 22,330 and we are
all packed on ten acre square. There is 18 in the piece but 8 of it is
taken up for what is called the dead line and woe to the yank that gets
his body inside of that line for every yank they shoot they get 30 days
furlough and they don't stop to let you get in far before rip goes you
Albert H. Schatzel
Those who had gone to the new side of the prison found that the clay
in the ground was suitable for the making of brick or adobe by mixing it
with water. Scores of prisoners thus went into the brickmaking business.
A great many of them built the walls of their huts with this adobe
mixture, which hardened nicely in the Georgia sun.
When the new portion of the prison was opened, the inmates took the
wood from the old wall and used it for their shebangs and for cooking
raw rations. This so infuriated Captain Wirz that they did not get
rations for two days. According to Private John Northrup, 7th
Connecticut Infantry, Captain Wirz was heard to say that "he would learn
the God damn Yankees that he was in command and if the sons of bitches
died like hell there would be enough left." After the prisoners had been
without rations for two days, the authorities distributed beef. After
being held for over two days the beef was crawling with vermin when
finally served, but the famished men dared not allow such trifles to
stand in the way of satisfying their hunger, and it was devoured with a
Bread was baked in the prison ovens and was devoured by the
June 17, 1864
It was often that the last to arrive at the prison were the first to
succumb. The beans were so wormy and weavel eaten that it took one of us
to skim off the maggots and insects all the time it was boiling.
Pvt., Co. H.
9th Minnesota Cavalry
Captain Wirz, at the recommendation of the medical staff, began the
brewing of "corn beer." This was given to those suffering from scurvy
and acted as an antidote to the scorbutic poison. The beer was made from
cornmeal and whole corn scalded in hot water until it turned to mash.
Some yeast was added to promote fermentation, and in a few days a sharp
acid beverage was produced which was very wholesome and palatable. As
prisoner John E. Warren, 7th Wisconsin Artillery wrote, "This same corn
beer was made within the stockade by the prisoners, but not to the
extent that it was manufactured on the outside, nor of so good a
quality." The food situation seemed to be improving since prisoners
could also buy green corn within the stockade at 25 cents per ear.
Food, water and death were on the minds of all of the prisoners.
Prisoner Asa B. Isham, Co. F, 7th Michigan Cavalry, would write in later
years, "A few steps to the right we find a hideous object lying in a
hole, which his hands have scooped out in the sand. The tattered rags
that partially cover him can not conceal the bones that gleam through
the skin; his eyes move fearfully in his head, his hands clench tightly
together, his limbs are drawn up in horrible contortions by the cramp.
Placing our ear to his lips, we gather from his faint whispers that but
a short time before he had left a happy home, flushed with hope and
courage, to battle for liberty and right. A fond mother pressed her lips
to his brow as, with tearful eyes, she bade him farewell; in the field
he had performed deeds of valor. He was captured, and even while we
linger beside him a faint shudder passes through his frame, and all is
PRISONERS HAD TO CREATE THEIR OWN SHELTERS KNOWN AS SHEBANGS. (NPS
LIVING HISTORY PROGRAM)|
Money and wordly goods could keep a man alive, especially during the
difficult days of the summer of 1864. Captain Wirz had allowed sutlers
inside the walls to sell items to the prisoners. If a prisoner had
money, and many did, he could buy the necessities of life: peas, pones,
wheat, flour and salt. These items were very expensive and rapidly ate
up the prisoner's money. Luxuries such as tobacco, onions, eggs, soda,
red pepper, gingerbread, soap, taffy, sour beer, apples and peaches were
available to those with money. A great variety of items were exchanged
for food: money, gold and silver watches and rings, shrewdly secreted
from the sharp-eyed officials during the search prior to admission to
the prison. Other valuable items included pocket-knives, mugs carved
from wood and laurel pipe bowls. These could be easily traded with the
guards. A peach could be purchased for fifty cents; salt, twenty-five
cents per tablespoon; and soap, one dollar and a half per bar. The
traders were noisy and persistent when yelling their wares: "Who has
this nice ration of beef, for ten cents, only ten cents." "Here you can
buy your cheap onions, only seventy-five cents apiece." Money or worldly
goods could keep a man alive, mostly during the difficult days of the
summer of 1864.
Camp Lawton was located about five miles from Millen, Georgia, and on
the Augusta Railroad. The prison was laid out in the customary style of
Confederate prisons with sloping hills at each end and a small stream
flowing between the hills. The walls were 15 feet high and sufficient
wood was left inside the walls so that the prisoners could construct
crude huts. Rations were somewhat better than Andersonville but were
still not sufficient to sustain life.
The prison was open for two months. The Lawton cemetery held 784
bodies. These bodies were moved to Beaufort National Cemetery in South
Carolina in February 1868. Where Camp Lawton stood in 1868 there is now
a state park, Magnolia Springs.
(GEORGIA DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES)|
INTERIOR VIEW OF A HOSPITAL TENT FROM LIFE AND DEATH IN REBEL
PRISONS, ROBERT H. KELLOGG, 1866.|
John Warren, 7th Wisconsin Artillery, later wrote of an encounter
with Captain Wirz on July 16, 1864. "I met Wirz while on one of his
inside visits. He stopped his horse, and I explained to him briefly the
situation and the condition of my comrades. Said I, 'if something is not
to be done for them at once, in a few days death will be the result';
and this was the substance of his reply, 'I am doing all I can, I am
hampered and pressed for rations. I am even exceeding my authority in
issuing supplies. I am blamed by the prisoners for all of this
suffering. They do not or will not realize that I am a subordinate,
governed by orders of my commanding officer. Why, sir, my own men are on
short rations. The best I can do is to see that your sick comrades are
removed to the hospital. God help you, I cannot', and his eyes were
filled with tears."
Johnson's Island is located three miles north of Sandusky, Ohio, in
Sandusky Bay. The island consists of 300 acres of clay and loam soil,
two to eight feet deep, underneath which is solid limestone. The prison
was located in a cleared area of fifteen acres on the southeast shore of
the island. The area was surrounded by a plank stockade fourteen feet
high. The prisoner's quarters were comprised of thirteen two-story
barrack type frame buildings. Each building was 120 feet by 28 feet,
designed to accommodate 250 men. There was a woodburning stove in each
building. Water was obtained from two surface wells, but pipes were
installed later from the bay.
The first prisoners arrived in April 1862. The prison was an
officer's prison. Over the period of 40 months the prison was open, at
least 12,000 Confederate officers were imprisoned at Johnson's Island.
All that remains today of Johnson's Island prison is the cemetery where
206 Confederate soldiers and a few enlisted men are buried. At the
entrance to the cemetery stands a statue of a Confederate soldier
peering out over the waters of the bay. It is called "The Outlook."