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Camp Douglas and Andersonville

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Justin LeClair, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Justin LeClair

    Justin LeClair Cadet

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    I was wondering what yalls opinion where on Camp Douglas and Andersonville.....Which one was more cruel...which was the Worst prison camp on the war?

    :cannon:
     

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  3. jenkingish

    jenkingish Corporal

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    Andersonville. All the camps were horrible, North and South. A Confederate army surgeon, Randolph Stevenson once said something to the effect that neither side would escape history and would be held accountable. The men in Andersonville starved and burned in the Georgia sun, and the men in Elmira and at Point Lookout starved and froze during the northern winters. If comparing mortality statistics, the worst would actually have been Salisbury, North Carolina. Thirty four percent of the Union Prisoners died there.
     
  4. ibmicheal

    ibmicheal Private

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    Yes Andersonville above all. My thoughts are that you or others saw the TV version of Camp Douglas. It was good in the fact it was put together to show what POW camps were about but bad because many items they talked about were way exaggerated almost to the point of a lie to make a T.V. program. The Camp was guarded by the Veteran Reserve who were basically walking cripples unfit for active service were guarding the people or Army that maimed them so I would think sometimes there might be a problem. Camp Douglas was inspected by the Union Army and some corrections were made to improve the place but again like what was said before no POW camp was good.

    Food was cut back and shortages and medical was bad not due to the people running the camp but the POW admin people in Washington. A good book on camp Douglas is "To live and die in Chicago" written by Confederate POW's.
     
  5. bama46

    bama46 Captain

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    Comparisons like this are pointless... all were a living hell
     
  6. carson_reb

    carson_reb Sergeant Major

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    I'll second that. Death rates in prisons north to south, I think, averaged around 20 percent or so. But I'm no mathematician. Some death rates are quoted in the single digits while others are up near 30 percent. Andersonvilled topped them all at about 35 percent. Conditions in most, if not a vast majority, of them were unspeakable: crowded, unsanitary and a living h***.

    None of them were places anybody wanted to be...much less die in.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:American_Civil_War_prison_camps
    http://www.civilwarhome.com/prisons.htm
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/0701_030701_civilwarprisons.html
     
  7. bankerpapaw

    bankerpapaw First Sergeant

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    Andersonville. The south could not manage to feed its own soldiers. It could not feed its prisoners. What a shame for both sides.
     
  8. Bob Mayer

    Bob Mayer Cadet

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    I've walked most of the battlefields, but nothing made me feel as much as standing on the ground at Andersonville. First, it was shocking to see how small it was with that many men crowded in. But you could feel the anguish coming out of the ground. And the creek from which they got their drinking water-- creek is too grand a word. Let's say trickle. Wicked place. Sort of like Execution Hollow at West Point.
     
  9. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    Yes, all Civil War prisons were hell on earth. Andersonville was designed to hold about 10,000 and its POW population swelled to near 35,000 in the summer of 1864 with a hundred dying each day. Here are a few descriptions from Sergent Henry W. Tisdale's diary in 1864.

    [FONT=&quot]June 6th[/FONT][FONT=&quot]. and 7th.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Slept uncomfortably on account of heat. Were allowed to fraternize with citizens who were willing to give us confederate money in exchange for our “greenbacks” if we were lucky enough to have any at the ratio of 10-1, and also to buy all the watches and jewelry we would sell. Pratt was a the only one of our mess who had a watch. This he found he could sell for $100 (Confederate.) We felt a little money in our pocket would not come amiss, so the sale was made and we agreed to share alike in spending the money and in replacing the watch in the happier days we hoped in store for us “When Johnny comes marching home.” Bought some corn bread and splice out our rations. At 2 p.m. were marched through the city about 3/4 of a mile and were soon on the way to Andersonville, Georgia. Augusta, as we saw it seemed beautiful. The citizens treated us civily and kindly, the boys willingly bringing us water. A ride of some 250 miles and at noon of Tuesday, June 7th, were landed on a grassy plot with “Andersonville Stockwall” in our front. Soon a wiry looking officer on a white horse rode along and gave orders “Fall in line.” A squad of “blue jackets” for some reason were not obeying orders when the officer swore at them and ordered them into line. This was our introduction to the prison commandant Captain Wirz. He then displayed a sheet of letter paper and called for a Sergeant. It flashed upon me that this might mean some work to do and my dread of idle hours might be relieved, and I sprang forward to be told to count off 90 men and enroll them upon the paper that they made up the 3rd mess of detachment No. 76 that my duties would be to have supervision of them. A daily roll call, a report, devide the rations, and for this work was to have double rations. Just as the day close we were marched through the gates many of us feeling that the words “Abandon all ye who enter here” might have a real meaning to us. Found it much worse a place than I had expected or that it had been represented to us by the citizens while en route. So crowded that it seemed as if there was no room for us new comers to stretch out upon. Got a ducking and laid down for the night wet but slept soundly. Another shower during the night.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]June 12th[/FONT][FONT=&quot].[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Five days rations, and is five days since writing. Partly from want of time but more from want of disposition. For the first three days was getting my ninety reduced to order. Find much more work than I anticipated. Takes an hour and often more to get them together for roll call, get the names of the sick, and those who are to go for wood. Another hour to go with sick and get medicines for them, another to get the wood squad together, and go for wood and near two hours to divide the rations.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The prison was one mass of human beings, crowded together, many without shelter from the sun and rain-those having shelter good enough to protect from rain are few. Most have made them shelters with wool blankets, overcoats, brush and twigs and dried mud, many have made caves and dug outs in the clayey soil. Through the center runs a slugish stream about three feet wide and about half knee deep. On each side for about two rods in width is a sort of swamp hole which in wet weather is sort of slimey mud. This is used for a dumping ground for the camp refuse. It is never cleaned up and is a good deal of the time one seething mass of maggots. The stream is often full from before daylight until dark with bathers or others trying to wash their clothes in its muddy fluid. The camp contains some fifteen acres inclusive of the swamp. Is surrounded by a stockade made of fine pine logs about twenty feet high. In sentry booths at intervals are stationedsentinels overlooking the camp. Just outside is a battery of six guns so placed as to overlook the prison. There is a hospital outside, but those who have seen it scarce deserves the name of hospital. Find that many have been here near a year. The upper part of the stream for about 12 or 15 feet is reserved for drinking water and most part of the day its banks are crowded with water seekers. Nearby, our camp spot a party of a dozen or more have been digging a well and have just come to good drinking water, but how to get it was a problem to them as none of them had any kind of pail. Fortunately one of us four had a 3 pint tin pail to which a rope made of pieces of string and sundry old rags was soon tied. For the use of the same we four were added to the gang of well diggers and had the priveledge with them of free use of the well. About 15 feet from the stockade was the “dead line” made of 3 by 4 [/FONT][FONT=&quot]joices placed upon posts made of the same, standing about 3 feet high. This we were not allowed to touch, and quite often the sharp call of the sentinel “hands off”, or occasionally the crack of the rifle and whiz of a bullet would greet the disobedient “Yanks.” Were told there was a rebel sutler on the other side of the prison and soon ten dollars of our hoarded hundred was exchanged for a bar of soap about 12 in. long by 1 1/2 in. square.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]A sad thing had happened the other day. Going down to bathe, Pratt left his clothes upon the bank, and on resuming them he found that his pocketbook and our ninety dollars was gone. He sat upon the bank and cried like a child saying, “I don’t care about the money if they had only left me the picture of my wife and child.” This was our first introduction to a class of prisoners teemed “Raiders.” Talking over the matter with one of the older prisoners, he said there was a regular organized band of them who made it a business to rob and plunder each new arrival.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Find the north side of the prison to be honey combed with burrows and dugouts, some of them large enough to contain 20 men. Going over the prison and coming in contact with its inmates, one’s eyes fill with tears and the heart shrinks in horror at the scenes around him-men most skeletons from lack of food, from diarrhea, and chills, and fever. Others are racked with rheumatism or bloated with scurvy; more than half clothed in rags.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The rations are brought in the afternoon meat and rice in fifty pound sacks. Corn bread in sheets about 18x24 in. and two or three inches thick and sometimes half cooked, or cooked so hard so as to endanger our teeth. Bacon sides form our meat rations, and no vegetables so that scurvy runs riot among the older prisoners. Some of my ninety already on the sick list. Yesterday went with two of them to sick call. The gathering place was at a place between the two stockades, with two or three surgeons in attendance. Near two thousand reported sick. It was the most heart rendering sight I ever saw. Men brought in blankets by scores weak and wan from diarrhea or bloated, and loathsome from scurvy or scarce able to hobble from rheumatism. They beg to be sent to the hospital or that some kind of shelter might be given them from the sun or rain. Have drawn raw rations of corn meal and bacon the past four days. When raw rations are given out, six men from each ninety are allowed to go out under guard for wood. Have to go some half a mile and lug it in on our backs thus one man has to lug enough for fifteen. Have managed to lug in some pine bought to carpet our tent which is made of two wool blankets, with one overcoat for our bed covering. The weather hot with a shower in the afternoon so far each day. Have felt dull and stupid today, I think it is from the heat and change of food. Scarce any change from our week-day routine of prison life. Came across my old townsman and christian brother today. He has been a prisoner seven months. D. F. Nichols, of the 18th Mass. Regiment. Six men sick with diarrhea today in my vicinity.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]July 10th[/FONT][FONT=&quot].[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Another week or our pine log prison. Busy from 6 to 10 hours a day, drawing and dividing rations, and looking after the sick and “skirmishing” for the “greybacks” are ever ready to find a dwelling place in our clothing and a daily skirmish drill is a necessity. Have felt weak from the heat and slight attacks of diarhea. God has been merciful to me in comparison to thousands scattered through the prison. Several lots of new prisoners in. Have sad and trying time with the sick of my ninety. Two have died and ten more are in a bad way. A few surgeons have visited us, but have had no medicines to give us. Have had none for the hospital for 9 days. This is crowded to overflowing, and many a poor comrade has to lie and waste away with nothing done for them. Yesterday was first for five days that any have been taken to the hospital. It is amazing to see the lack of humanity on the part of the rebel officials, for many of us think that the “Dutch Captain” is not the only one to blame. It seems to us that with a little energy on their part, shelter from the blazing sun could be provided from the surrounding forests.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Yesterday was the first time for five days that the sick call has been sounded. It brought together the saddest sight I have yet seen in the prison. Between four and five hundred crowded into the streets and by paths leading to the gate. More than half assisted by their comrades, scores lugged in blankets, and exposed to the blazing sun. Some of them died on the way, and many were sunstruck. The process of inspection by the surgeons was slow and when about there was three fourths examined, word came that no more could be attended to. Back to quarters under the noonday sun. They had to hobble, crawl, or were borne the rest of the way with their hopes of relief dashed from them.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]August 7th[/FONT][FONT=&quot].[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Have been very busy with work incident to the increasing number of sick in the ninety. Many of the worst cases have been taken to the hospital. On the morning of the fourth, word came that all the worst cases in camp were to be brought to the gate, and that from them a large number would be transferred to the hospital. On the strength of this, thousands crowded in a dense mass in the street and by paths leading to the gate, some hobbling, some literally crawling on hands and knees, and hundreds too weak to hobble or crawl were carried in blankets by their comrades. but all in vain for ten a.m. word came that no more were to be taken out today. Next morning came the word again and those able were again in waiting many with glad and expectant faces, feeling that whatever the change might bring them, at least it could be to no worse condition. But again came word that no more would be taken out until 2 p.m. At 2 word came that only those in the first eleven detachments would be taken. Pencil cannot picture the despairing faces nor words describe the sad scenes incident to these two day’s gatherings of the sick of Andersonsville. Especially as the last word came and those who were able hobbled or were borne back to their quarters. Many were sunstruck, a dozen or more died while waiting or on the way. Among them one of my ninety. He had been wasting away and was a sad and loathsome spectacle of whom it might be said in truth before death released him, “He was eaten by worms.” The Good Book says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”, and truly may this be said of scores about the prison, who up to this day have fought a good fight with hunger, nakedness, and disease. They are now hopeless, heartsick, and discouraged. The needless indignation of their fellow prisoners at this cruelty to the sick is intense and many of us feel that were Captain Wirz to enter the camp unattended, he would be torn limb form limb. We see no reason why the proper officials could not visit the camp and get the Sergeant of each ninety to point out the sick under his charge and all the above exposure and suffering saved.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]August 14th[/FONT][FONT=&quot].[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The number of sick is increasing. Have had heavy rains, which with the scorching sun brings increasing suffering. None have been taken to the hospital for a week or more. No medicines given out. Even so simple an article as vinegar is very helpful for scurvy, which has ceased to be dispensed. The ravages of this disease are terrible. Many going about the camp with bleeding mouth and teeth actually dropping out, legs swollen and turning black and blue. One remedy of some help is to sit with legs burried in the ground. The death rate has increased form fifty to seventy five per day. Five out of the ninety the past week making thirteen in our nine-week stay. Have been busy near all the time. Feel I cannot be too thankful for having so much to occupy my time and thoughts. Notice that those who keep busy stand it the best. Many are the devices to keep from idleness, such as tearing down and rebuilding their mud huts, digging for roots for fuel, (every piece of which if no bigger than a pipe stem is split and piled in the sun to dry.) tunnelling, well digging, carving knickknacks out of stray bones that come with our meat rations, and patching clothing. Cards have been made and also checker boards. These are freely lent and from dawn to dark, groups can be seen about the camp, and the merry laugh shows that all is not dark and dreary. Many a well worn bible and testament can be seen in constant use going from one to another. Nearly an hour is required every day in skirmishing for greybacks, and woe be to the comrade who neglects this task. As no hot water is a hand wherewith to scald our clothing, and as cold water will not drown them destruction by fingernails is our only remedy. Occasionally a copy of some rebel newspaper is thrown in by the guard which is read until worn to shreds....

    [/FONT]
    http://www.civilwardiary.net/
     
  10. Don Dixon

    Don Dixon Private

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    Andersonville.

    I grew up in the Chicago area (Camp Douglas), and I've been to Rock Island and Johnson's Island in the winter. Had Federal forces maintained the Confederate prisoners at those locations under conditions similar to Andersonville - no shelter, no clothing, and no blankets except what they brought with them, as well as no fire wood, inadequte food, and inadequate medical care - the Confederate death rate would have approached 100% every winter. For a Confederate soldier all of those locations would have been no better than Siberia.

    I've also been to Andersonville while I was stationed at Fort Benning. The Confederacy couldn't provide shelter and firewood in a forested area? All they needed to do was seize the timber and send prisoner details out to cut it. The Confederacy couldn't provide food in the middle of an agricultural area? In the middle of farm country, even transportation shouldn't have been much of an issue. Clothing and blankets were another matter.

    Look at the phtographs of the living dead that were released from Andersonville and compare them with the reasonably healthy Confederate POWs pictured in Faces of the Confederacy. Wirtz was a war criminal who got exactly what he desrved. But then, one of my great, great uncles ended his war as a guest of the Confederacy at Andersonville.

    Don Dixon
     
  11. Copperhead-mi

    Copperhead-mi Sergeant Major

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    It should of been General John H. Winder and his commissary-general, Lucius Northrop who swung from a rope, not Wirz. Winder was not only in charge of the Camp Sumter-Andersonville complex where he sometimes resided, but he was in charge of the Confederacy's entire prisoner camp system east of the Mississippi until early 1865. Wirz was directly under Winder's command at Andersonville and his authority and accountability was limited as such. Winder was personally malevolent towards Union prisoners and their conditions and deaths especially during the summer of 1864, can be directly attributed to him. It was Winder who denied Wirz's written requests for food and additional supplies claiming that all Union soldiers must die and it was Winder who put 32,000 prisoners in a camp designed for no more than 5,000 men. Unfortunately for Colonel Henry Wirz, General Winder died of a heart attack during February 1865.

    Noted 19th century historian Benson J. Lossing wrote of Winder:
    "One of the chief instruments employed in the infliction of cruelties upon Union prisoners was Brigadier-General John H. Winder, an inciter of the mob which attacked the Massachusetts troops in Baltimore. So notorious for his cruel acts had he become, that when (at the age of seventy years) he was sent to Georgia to carry on his horrid work at Andersonville, the Richmond Examiner exclaimed:
    'Thank God Richmond has, at last, got rid of old Winder! God have mercy upon those to whom he has been sent'."
    A History of the United States from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Benson J. Lossing, pg. 695.

    Lucius Northrop was the Confederacy's Commissary-General who according to the Richmond Examiner's editor Edward Pollard, wanted Federal prisoners that were captured at First Manassas and hadn't eaten in over 2 days, thrown into the James River when a subordinate, Captain Warner, asked him about food for the prisoners:

    "I know nothing of Yankee prisoners," he said;" throw them all into the James river!"

    "At least," said Captain Warner, "tell me how l am to keep my accounts for the prisoners subsistence."

    "Sir," said Northrop, slightly inclining his eyes to the anxious inquirer, "I have not the will or the time to speak with you. Chuck the scoundrels into the river!"


    Lossing, in his same book wrote of a proposed resolution in the Confederate Congress to investigate the maltreatment of Federal prisoners:
    "In December, 1863, Henry S. Foote, a member of the Confederate House of Representatives, offered a resolution for the appointment of a committee of inquiry concerning the alleged ill-treatment of Union prisoners. His humane resolution was voted down. In the course of his remarks in its favor, Mr. Foote read testimony which, he said, was on record in the Confederate War Department, to prove that the charges of cruelty were true. Referring to Northrup, the Confederate Commissary-General, he said:
    'This man has placed our government in the attitude charged by the enemy, and has attempted to starve the prisoners in our hands.'"

    He cited an elaborate report made by the Commissary-General to the Secretary of War (Seddon), in which he used this significant language:
    'For the subsistence of a human Yankee carcass, a vegetable diet is the most proper,' the terrible meaning of which is obvious."
    Ibid., pg. 696.

    Lucius Northrop was the commissary-general when John H. Winder was in charge of Libby prison in 1861 and continued to hold that position when Wirz was the commander of the stockade at Andersonville and Winder was his commanding officer.
     
  12. ibmicheal

    ibmicheal Private

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    Wrong name "To die in Chicago" George Levy
     
  13. Union_Buff

    Union_Buff Captain Forum Host

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    All Prisoner of War camps are horrible, no matter what side they are on.
     
  14. Dugger

    Dugger Banned

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    Utterly unbalanceded comment. MORE Southerners died in Yankee prison camps than Yankees in Southern camps. Fact. U are begining to look like a Cool Aid drinker. U appeare to know little bout Union camps or u would not have made this statment. Andersonville was horrofic...but, u need to read bout the Northern camps also. U really a Civil WAR author?
     
  15. Copperhead-mi

    Copperhead-mi Sergeant Major

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    In the book Portals to Hell, author Lonnie Speer states that throughout the War "nearly 410,000" soldiers were held at various camps ranging from days to years resulting in the death of "more than 56,000" prisoners. Of that total, 25,796 Southerners or 12%, died in Northern camps while 30,218 Union personnel or 15%, died in the Southern facilities:

    "They began as prisons or holding facilities but, with few exceptions, quickly became nothing more than American concentration camps. Prisoners were crammed into them with complete disregard of capacity limits, hygiene, nutrition, or sanitation needs. Within a short time neither government could cope with the problems created by such a high concentration of people in such small areas or the lack of coordination within the prison system. In the end, more than 56,000 prisoners of war died in confinement, and many more were in poor or failing health when finally released.

    Neither side was more at fault than the other. The number of deaths in Confederate prisons totaled 30,218, or a little more than 15 percent of those incarcerated. In Federal prisons, there were 25,796 deaths, or slightly more than 12 percent. Although propaganda during and after the war convinced many people that the Confederate prisons were much worse than those maintained by the Union, a close examination reveals there were few differences. If Union soldiers were stricken with fear upon entering the gates of Andersonville Prison, Confederates were shocked upon learning that they were headed for Fort Delaware or Elmira prisons.

    The death rate in all the prisons amounted to nearly 13 percent of the total confined. In comparison, those who remained on the battlefield fared much better; based on available figures there, only 5 percent of the total enlistments of both sides were killed."

    Portals To Hell - Military Prisons of the Civil War, Lonnie R. Speer, p. xiv
     
  16. FourLeafClover

    FourLeafClover First Sergeant

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    I found this in Civil War Sources website

    Early on in the Civil War, Union and Confederate officials set up a system for the exchange of prisoners of war. This system eventually broke down. Some have suggested this breakdown resulted in the deplorable conditions at Andersonville, and ultimately, the prosecution and execution of Henry Wirz.
    Excerpted below, from the Official Records, is a communication from U.S. Grant regarding his opposition to the exchange of prisoners.
    City Point, VA., August 18, 1864. Major-General BUTLER, Commanding, &c.:

    I am satisfied that the object of your interview had the proper sauc- tion and therefore meets with my entire approval. I have seen from Southern papers that a system of retaliation is going on in the South which they keep from us and which we should stop in some way. On the subject of exchange, however, I differ from General Hitchcock. It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. Every man we hold, when released on parole or otherwise, becomes an active soldier against us at once either directly or indirectly. If we com- mence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught they amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners North would iusure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here.
    U.S. GRANT,
    Lieutenant- General.

    War crimes and/or obeying military orders . It's a fine wire to tread. Bearing in mind recent attrocities in WW2 , to disobey or voice dissent would have been suicide. And in an alternative reallity if the outcome were different it would have been bomber command on trial. No comfort to the poor souls caught in the middle though. It's another harsh realism of war , terrible hellish things will inevitably happen.
     
  17. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Copperhead-mi,

    I want to commend you for your excellent posts #10 and #14 above.

    Informative and balanced with sources throughout.

    Thank you for posting them.

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue
     
  18. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Doug McKay,

    A bit of advice.

    When you make a statement, especially a declaritive one as you do in your post above, you should provide some historical evidence or source that supports your claim.

    And you should try to refrain from making derogatory comments about another poster. Making such types of comments may result in getting you banned from this forum in a very short time.

    Just a word of caution.

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue

    And FYI, Mr. Mayer IS a Civil War author.
     
  19. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    All prisoner of War camps are Hell no matter what side. Just got the book, "Portals To Hell" for my husband. We look forward to reading it.
     
  20. bama46

    bama46 Captain

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    May I second that statement. Excellent posts
     
  21. Bob Mayer

    Bob Mayer Cadet

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    Am I missing something here? I never said who had more people die in prison camps north or south. I discussed what I felt when I visited Andersonville. I also mentioned I felt the same thing at Execution Hollow at West Point. Which was the Revolution. Please don't put words in my mouth Mr. McKay. Your comments are completely different from what I said. This is the second thread where you've jumped me. And the second one I've looked at this morning. If you have a problem with me, please contact me personally and discuss. As noted, I am not a historian. But I am a West Pointer, a former Green Beret, and a NY Times bestselling author of over 45 books, both fiction and non-fiction. In no way am I an expert on the Civil War. I'm really enjoying these boards since I've joined, mainly just reading because there ARE many experts here.
     

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