"It was long ago, and it was far away, and it was so much better than it is today." ~ Meat Loaf
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
On Sunday, February 16, 2014 7:04 PM, Fold3.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
TMIH: February 1864 Andersonville Prison
February 1864 Andersonville Prison
The most infamous Confederate prison of the Civil War was at Andersonville, Georgia. It was known as Camp Sumter when the first Union prisoners arrived in February 1864. The original stockade was built to house 10,000 men, but as hundreds of captured prisoners arrived every day, the site quickly reached its capacity and exceeded it. Six months later, over 32,000 men lived in deplorable conditions inside the prison. In its 14 months of existence, 45,000 men came through the gates. Nearly 13,000 are buried there.
There were 150 prison camps on both sides in the Civil War, and they all suffered from disease, overcrowding, exposure, and food shortages. But Andersonville was notorious for being the worst. Some men agreed to freedom and fought for the South as galvanized soldiers, fearing the dangers of imprisonment to be greater than those of the battlefield. Eventually, General Sherman's occupation of Atlanta forced officials to move prisoners to other camps in Georgia and South Carolina.
The only official executed for war crimes in the Civil War was Captain Henry Wirz, the Confederate commandant of Andersonville Prison. He was charged with conspiring with others to "injure the health and destroy the lives" of Union soldiers. While no conspiracy was ever truly proved, public opinion forced a guilty verdict and his execution by hanging.
The National Park Service maintains the prison site, its museum, and the Andersonville National Cemetery. Information about the 150th anniversary of Andersonville Prison is available here.
Despite the terrible death toll, thousands of men survived Andersonville and related their stories. If you had an ancestor confined to Andersonville, or any other Civil War prison for that matter, their tales may have been passed down over the last century and a half. The military records of the men who survived Andersonville Prison can be found in the documents on Fold3. One survivor, R.K. Sneden of the 40th New York Volunteers, was a prisoner there until April 1864. He drew several colorful maps of Camp Sumter and its vicinity that include captions and details of interest.
150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: Battle of Olustee
The largest battle fought in Florida during the Civil War was the Battle of Olustee, also known as the Battle of Ocean Pond. On February 20, 1864, about 5,000 troops from each side fought in Baker County, Florida, 50 miles west of Jacksonville. Although it was a small battle, fought mostly in the woods because of the nearby Ocean Pond, it was costly with a large number of casualties.
Union General Seymour wanted to occupy Jacksonville to disrupt transportation and supply lines. On the Confederate side, Brigadier General Finegan took a position at Olustee and was joined by Brigadier General Colquitt and his troops. What started as a skirmish grew into a full-blown battle with Union troops from as far north as New Hampshire and Connecticut, plus three regiments of U.S. Colored Troops. The proportion of casualties to men who fought made it one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. An annual reenactment of the battle takes place at the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.
Visit Fold3 to read the report of battle, described as "the engagements with the abolitionists near Ocean Pond," by the commander of the 2nd Brigade, George P. Harrison, and view his brigade's casualty report here.
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