History of Andersonville Prison

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History of Andersonville Prison

When one turns on the television today they are made witness to all the crimes that are present in society. It is impossible to sit through thirty-five minutes of news without anger and rage becoming aroused. This is because society is bothered by infinitesimal paraphernalia. Society also believes in human rights and punishment for those who violate such rights. Yet what constitutes humanity? Ever sit there and watch the news and wonder just how far humanity reaches? When is it time to say this is a human rights violation? Every wonder when someone’s morals and ethics begin to effect their ability to do their job? Ever wonder why in every news story the “bad guy” always become caught? Ever wonder how many people on death row might not be guilt? Some of them could have even been used as scapegoats. Yet how does one become a scapegoat? Could someone out there have that much hatred and anger to blame one person for the faults of many? Is the need for blame significant? Does desire lead to more hatred and evil? What does it feel like to be blamed for something that might not be wrong, and to be put on trial knowing that the jury wants to blame someone? In society and in the United States since its founding, there has been a need to place blame. Imagine how the person being blamed would feel. Henry Wirz did not have to image it; he lived through it and died for it. Someone is always to be blamed, even if they were just following orders. Orders which can only go so far until humanity takes effect. Henry Wirz was used as a scapegoat for war crimes committed during the Civil War at Andersonville Prison, however that does not justify his acts or make him an American hero.

Ever take a midnight train to Georgia? No, well ever drive through Georgia? When driving through Georgia on State Road 49, there is a little town called Andersonville that is very easy to miss. To many it is just another town. Yet this town has its own trail. The Andersonville Trail is a small brown dirt road that leads visitors to the Andersonville National Historic Site (Roberts xi). This National Historic Site looks like a “well- tended” national cemetery. On closer examination, this cemetery is nothing like Arlington (Roberts xi). “In this national cemetery, the marble headstones are so close together, they almost touch. The markers appear to be one long head...

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... Confederacy should face the truth as did Eliza Frances Andrews, who wrote of Andersonville: “it is horrible, and a blot on the fair name of our Confederacy” (Futch 122). That is exactly it, Andersonville was a blot on the Confederacy not on just Wirz, yet Wirz was blamed. Does this seam fair? Hardly. What happened at Andersonville was a repercussion of the Confederacy’s inability, not on the inability of Henry Wirz.


Denny, Robert. Civil War Prisons and Escapes. New York, New York: Sterling Publishing Company, 1993.

Futch, Ovid. History of Andersonville Prison. Indiantown, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1968.

Hillstrom, Kevin. American Civil War Biographies. Michigan: The Gale Group, 2000

Levitt, Saul. The Andersonville Trial. New York, New York: Random House, 1960.

Murphy, Richard. The Nation Reunited. Canada: Time-Life Books, Inc. 1987

Roberts, Edward. Andersonville Journey. Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1998

Robertson, James: Tenting Tonight: A Soldier’s Life. Canada: The Time-Life, Inc. 1984.

Shaw, William B., et al. A Photographic History of the Civil War. Six Volumes. New York, New York: The Blue and Grey Press, 1987.
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