Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Road Trip: Andersonville Civil War Prison

After moving to Georgia from Michigan umpteen years ago I was over whelmed by all of the History there. Caught up in my day to day living I somehow stopped noticing it.  I decided to change that.  I wanted to start exploring and taking notice of the history around me. I decided to start with Andersonville. I had never heard about Andersonville until a couple of years ago.  At the time, my son was studying the Civil War. He wanted to learn more, so we hopped in the car, and headed out.

Camp Sumter was one of the largest confederate prisons during the Civil War. The city of AndersonvilleGeorgia was chosen for the site of the prison due to its location far from Union lines and its close proximity to the railway. Soon after the first prisoners arrived in 1864 it was dubbed “Andersonville”. Andersonville is infamous for being one of the deadliest prison camps during the Civil War. Over the next 14 months, almost 13,000 Union soldiers lost their life.  Stricken by the same diseases and insufficient rations hundreds of the confederate prison guards perished as well.  A replica of the North gate was rebuilt on the site along with markers signifying the 15 ft high outer wall and the flimsy inner wall, which marked the “dead line”.
  Doris Atwater, a prisoner, kept a secret list of men that died. After the war ended he and Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, went back with a team to dig up the mass graves and rebury the dead with dignity. There are monuments throughout the prison site and cemetery from each state that had prisoners held at Andersonville.
  Andersonville is a great day trip it takes about 2 ½ hours to drive there from Atlanta or make a weekend out of it and visit former President Jimmy Carter’s Hometown in nearby Plains Georgia or the State fair in Perry. They offer several guided tours daily. We chose the audio tour, you can rent it for a few bucks and go at your own pace.
  Also on site is the Nation Prisoner of War Museum which was opened in 1998 to honor those who were held captive in the defense of their country. You can also visit the Andersonville National Cemetery where the dead from Andersonville are at rest.
  Today the walls that covered over 26 acres have since fallen but the memories and spirit of the men who lived there linger on.