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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Andersonville Prison

From: The Civil War Lady

 Andersonville Prison was one of many built in early 1864. It was up and running for 14 months. More than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined there, which is almost double what the maximum capacity was. Almost 13,000 men died of diseases, malnutrition, and poor sanitation. It covered 16 1/2 acres but by June of 1865 had expanded to 26 1/2 acres. Many soldiers didn't even have tents, they were only able to use what was on their backs to keep warm and those who had tents were crammed into the stockade like sardines into a tin can.
                         
The prison had one water source, Providence Spring. The legend goes that a group of Christian soldiers decided to pray to God for more water. Their water rations were not enough anymore. So, one day a huge thunderstorm came and a bolt of lightening hit the ground. The soldiers said that where the lightening struck, a spring popped up out of the ground. They used this little spring that flowed from up hill to down hill for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking. This means that if a man up hill had to use the restroom, a man down hill that had to get a drink, was drinking what the man up hill did in the water. This is the reason that so many died of poor sanitation.
                                                                                 
There were two  women soldiers that were held there, both of them gave birth in the prison. No one knew that they were indeed women until they did so. In many cases, no one knew they were female until they got to the "dead house". A dead house was a little building, or in some cases a lean-to, where the dead each day would be carried, stripped of everything valuable and then prepared to be buried. Soldiers would take shoes, shirts, pants, anything that was in good condition and distribute them to other soldiers that needed them. At the end of the day, Confederates would take the bodies away from the stockade and dig a trench. They would lay the bodies side by side, about 2 - 3 inches apart. Then the cycle would start all over again the next day.

Andersonville was shut down in 1865, due to the end of the war.
                   
When we see all of the pictures taken in prisons that held Union soldiers, we must also think of what our Men in Grey went through. Lincoln decided not to trade prisoners with the Confederacy. He then decided that the Confederate prisoners should not be allowed the same ration of food that Union troops were allowed. So not only were our Confederates cold they went hungry, too. Jeff Davis made several attempts with Abe Lincoln to peacefully trade prisoners, all of which Lincoln denied.

Image: An illustration of what Andersonville Prison looked like during the war.

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