Funeral for 13,000
September 18-20, 2015
September 2015 marks the conclusion of the 150th anniversary at Andersonville National Historic Site. The entire month of September is dedicated to highlighting the history of the infamous Civil War prison, the plight of all prisoners of war, the end of the Civil War, and what happened after the surrender at Appomattox. There are many questions we hope to explore this month. How does a soldier go from war to peace? How does a prisoner go from captivity to freedom? How does a nation reunite after such immense division?
This month holds a great deal of meaning not only in Civil War history, but for all American Prisoners of War. The third Friday in September is officially National POW/MIA Recognition Day. With that in mind, Andersonville National Historic Site is hosting a three-day special event weekend. This weekend will mix Civil War history, POW veterans groups, active duty military, and civilians to explore the stories of survival and sacrifice by United States service members during the Civil War and today.
During the fourteen months of operation, just over 12,900 United States soldiers perished due to the diseases, hunger and wounds that they received on the battlefield and while in prison at Andersonville. Over that time, their bodies were placed in long trenches for burial. Those trenches are the foundation of Andersonville National Cemetery. The national cemetery holds not only the remains of those original prisoners of war, but also Union soldiers killed across Georgia in those final years of war. The number 13,000 acknowledges that greater whole. Today, the national cemetery has over 20,000 interments.
WHAT ABOUT CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS?
The story of Andersonville prison cannot be told without understanding the roles of the Confederate government, the daily decisions of officers and guards, and the responses of civilians to the presence of thousands of Yankee prisoners of war. Throughout the special event weekend, there will be speakers, programs and groups representing Union and Confederate soldiers alike. The prisoner of war experience held similarly painful or deadly outcomes for Confederate men and boys. Confederate and Union prisoners of war each suffered for their allegiances, whether to cause or country. Prison guards that died during Andersonville's operation were buried, but not beside Union prisoners. Eventually, the graves of Confederate guards were moved to local cemeteries or family plots. Today, only one Confederate grave resides in the national cemetery. Each grave in national cemetery or private plot is a story written in stone.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER TODAY?
Just as the United States had to find ways to reunite in 1865, and veterans learned how to shake hands in the decades to follow, this weekend in 2015 is an opportunity to acknowledge these lives passionately lived, and tragically ended. Talking about the experiences at this one location does not lessen the tragedies of dozens of other prisons or thousands of other lives, rather it draws each suffering into relief. Mourning and remembering Andersonville is a way to reach these other prisons, people, and pasts. Andersonville is a place about everyone; Union and Confederate, soldier and civilian,guard and prisoner, slave and freedman, man and woman, local and stranger, native-born and immigrant. On this hard Georgia clay, it is now the gathering space for people to struggle with the challenges of duty, honor, vengeance, sacrifice, justice, memory, and mercy. What do we choose today?
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Visitors to the site are welcome to attend programs throughout the event weekend. All programs are free. Specific schedules will be posted here before the event, and updates are available at www.facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS.
We need volunteers! Interested groups should read through the position descriptions, and then submit either a volunteer application or luminary warden application. You can even submit both if you would like to help during the day and at night. Due: SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 at 10:00 am
Are you a re-enactment group, a veteran's support group, active duty military group, or a group that just cares deeply about the Civil War prisoner of war story? We have designated a special service for interested groups to lay a wreath at the prison site. There are so many groups that have expressed interest in participating, this is your opportunity.
Requirements: You must provide a live floral wreath (no silk or plastic flowers)
To register your group for the wreath ceremony, please submit the Wreath Ceremony Registration Form.
Due: SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, September 18
Saturday, September 19
Sunday, September 20
Last updated: August 5, 2015