Golden Thread Andersonville National Historic Site

bdtex

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Read Andersonville: The Last Depot before the trip and Father Whelan was obviously in it.

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bdtex

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I started a thread back in December called "Misconceptions" and I almost posted this there because I didn't think I'd ever get to posting this Andersonville thread. For a long time I was under the misconception that the only water source for the prisoners at Andersonville was the creek that ran through the stockade(Stockade Branch) and rainwater. Not true. When I read Andersonville: The Last Depot, I learned about Providence Spring which is visible on the map on page 3 of this thread. I also learned that some of the prisoners being farmers or miners,knew how to dig water wells and did so. Somehow or another,somebody knew or found where those wells were/are and the NPS marked them. Don't know how many there are/were but the marker on the second pic says it is #27.

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Gary Morgan

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The Raiders get an oversized role in the memory of Andersonville, allowing for the "otherizing" of what happened there:

https://www.nps.gov/ande/learn/historyculture/raiders.htm
Hi.

I just joined the site last week, but I can address your comment. I just finished a book on the Raiders, which will be published by Stackpole Books and out next April.

A LOT of what has been written about the Raiders doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Only one of the six who were hanged was both a bounty jumper and a deserter; the rest served an average of 13 1/2 months before they were captured - one of them (Collins) had just a few months left on his 3 year enlistment when he was captured, and another, Muir (aka "Munn") of the Water Witch had actually finished his year of enlistment and was awaiting transport home when his ship was captured. The six were not all "chiefs" - three of them had been at Andersonville less than 2 months (Muir had been there just about 3 weeks when he was arrested), and 4 of the six who were hanged had probably taken part together in the attack on "Dowd" (who, by the way, was not John Urban as is often reported - there really WAS a prisoner named Doud who was attacked by 4 Raiders and brutally beaten, which caused Wirz to order the arrests of the raiders. Doud, by the way, never really recovered and died in 1868).

By looking mostly at diaries and memoirs written within 5 years of the camp closing, you get a pretty different picture of what happened.

The Raiders did not dominate the prison; there were, at most, 200 of them when the arrests happened, and there were 26,000 prisoners on the day they were executed. If you had friends to watch your back, you were probably okay, but if you were alone and 'fresh fish," you were likely to be singled out as a potential victim.

I think the story got famous because it plays into the mythos of good triumphing over evil, and reading about a group of prisoners rising up to take justice into their own hands is a much more interesting story than reading about men slowly dying of diarrhea and dysentery. It also was kind of the most public moment to happen in the prison - you may not have know what was happening 10 acres away, but every man in the place was aware of the arrests and execution.

Okay, I'll stop now. Can you tell I get really into this?

Gary
 

Gary Morgan

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I started a thread back in December called "Misconceptions" and I almost posted this there because I didn't think I'd ever get to posting this Andersonville thread. For a long time I was under the misconception that the only water source for the prisoners at Andersonville was the creek that ran through the stockade(Stockade Branch) and rainwater. Not true. When I read Andersonville: The Last Depot, I learned about Providence Spring which is visible on the map on page 3 of this thread. I also learned that some of the prisoners being farmers or miners,knew how to dig water wells and did so. Somehow or another,somebody knew or found where those wells were/are and the NPS marked them. Don't know how many there are/were but the marker on the second pic says it is #27.

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The National Park Service filled in the well holes with sand, which keeps people from toppling in and makes it easy to remove the sand if they ever want to excavate the wells at a future date. One prisoner died of "asphyxiation" when he was sleeping next to a well and the walls caved in, burying him alive. And although much is made of the "Miraculous" nature of Providence Spring, it's always kind of rankled that the spring bubbled up inside the dead line where the prisoners could not get to it directly. The guards let them reach in with cups tied to sticks, and eventually they carved out a trench with sticks that brought the water inside the deadline where they could finally reach it.
 

bdtex

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The National Park Service filled in the well holes with sand, which keeps people from toppling in and makes it easy to remove the sand if they ever want to excavate the wells at a future date. One prisoner died of "asphyxiation" when he was sleeping next to a well and the walls caved in, burying him alive. And although much is made of the "Miraculous" nature of Providence Spring, it's always kind of rankled that the spring bubbled up inside the dead line where the prisoners could not get to it directly. The guards let them reach in with cups tied to sticks, and eventually they carved out a trench with sticks that brought the water inside the deadline where they could finally reach it.
Thank you for adding that information. It doesn't make the conditions of the prison or prisoners' suffering less horrible,but it rankles me when historians/authors perpetuate the misinformation that Stockade Branch and rainwater were the only water sources.
 

bdtex

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It's also worth mentioning that the guards used the same creek as their water source. It doesn't get much press, but about 200 of them died at Andersonville as well (they're buried in Americus, I think). The whole place was pretty much one but contamination zone.
I posted a thread about that cemetery...Oak Grove Cemetery. I visited it the day before I went to Andersonville.

 

Gary Morgan

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I posted a thread about that cemetery...Oak Grove Cemetery. I visited it the day before I went to Andersonville.

Neat! The stones are all pointed, they say, so that the Yankees can't sit on 'em! I'm going back to Andersonville to give some sort of presentation next summer, and I'll definitely look for the cemetery!
 

Gary Morgan

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Thank you for adding that information. It doesn't make the conditions of the prison or prisoners' suffering less horrible,but it rankles me when historians/authors perpetuate the misinformation that Stockade Branch and rainwater were the only water sources.

bdtex, I wasn't looking for it, but I stumbled across this memoir by a former POW who said that the wells were pretty useless (about 6 paragraphs down, it starts with "Through the grounds..."
 

Buckeye Bill

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On this day in 1865, Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, a Swiss immigrant and the commander of Andersonville prison in Georgia, is hanged for the murder of Federal soldiers incarcerated there during the American Civil War.

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bdtex

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Since my Andersonville thread got a bump today,I'm gonna take this opportunity to finish posting my pics. Again,these are from a June 2018 visit. From where the north wall was,looking south towards the replica of the North Gate on the west side of the stockade:

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bdtex

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The Massachusetts Monument and Ohio Monument at the Andersonville Prison Site and one of the well markers in the lower right hand side:

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