Fresh Spring Water at Andersonville Prison

Bonny Blue Flag

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 21, 2008
Messages
3,507
Location
Irving, Texas
#1
Summer of 1864 at Andersonville Prison was hot, dry and deadly. On August 3rd, 1864,
a group of Christian soldiers finally decided they would pray to God for pure water and
would not stop until their prayers were answered. They took turns, praying for hours
every day.

On August 8th, 1864, the blessed relief of rain began as light showers rinsed the mass
of 30,000 prisoners as they lay, stood, and walked about the seared open acreage.

Over the next 5 days, the sky remained gray and the rains grew stonger, men stood with
their parched mouths open. Those who could, held up battered canteens and tin cups, and
any other vessels to catch the clean, precious water. The prisoners had been soaked to
the skin for days.

The downpour soon became a torrent which turned the prison's 26 acres into a vast quagmire.
Stockade Creek which ran down the middle of the camp, rose and finally overflowed its banks,
carrying away large quantities of accumulated filth and the prisoner's tents with its strong
current.

The western wall of the prison began to sway in the storm and then fell down. Guards shot
over the heads of the prisoners warning them not to try to escape. None of them had enough
strength to do so.
img08.jpg

A great cloud appeared, distinctive for its tremendous size and sharply defined shape, it
was said to be like a giant mountain in the sky, its color like that of blued gun metal.
Now as emaciated men stood and looked heavenwards, for the first time Andersonville prison
became silent.

Suddenly there came a thuderous, deafening roar. It was said to be like the explosion of
a cannon. It was so powerful that the weaker men standing near the west wall were
thrown to the ground. Then from the heart of the deep blue cloud, came a great, blinding
flash--followed nearly immediately by a searing bolt of blinding white lightning.
It exploded from the sky, violently striking the ground just within the stockade at the
notorious Dead Line, beyond which no prisoner could pass without being shot.
At that place where the lightning struck, there was another tremendous explosion, and
a stunning eruption of earth and steam filled the air. Instantly torrents of fresh water
gushed out of the blasted, broken ground. Water poured out and coursed its way into the
prison.

"A spring of purest crystal shot up into the air in a column and, falling fanlike spray,
came babbling down the grade into the noxious Stockade Creek. Looking across the dead-line,
we beheld with wandering eyes and grateful hearts the fountain spring." John L. Maile, 8th
Michigan Infantry, August 15, 1864.

At first, the prisoners had to tie a cup to a tent pole to gain access to the water so
as not to cross the dead-line but the guards soon let them go directly to the spring. The
name Providence Spring emerged nearly as quickly as the waters came forth to the relief
the thousands in Andersonville Prison.

The water was cool, clean and its flow was permanent.

The spring was a treasured memory of the survivors of the prison. By the 1880's, visiting
the site of the spring was an important Memorial Day tradition.
Expired Image Removed

This damp slope with its natural seeps, would appear to be a likely site for a spring.
Workmen may have inadvertently buried the spring's outlet while digging the stockade's trench.
Whether an act of nature or devine providence, the effect of the stream was an answer to
thousands of prayers.
Follwing initial preservation of the prison site in the 1890's by the Grand Army of the
Republic, the Women's Relief Corps arranged for holding pools to be installed and a building
was constructed over the area. It looks like a fine stone house, erected over Providence Spring
in 1901. On one of its walls is this inscription: "The prisoner's cry of thirst raing up to
Heaven; God heard, and with His thunder, cleft the earth and poured His sweet water,
rushing in." On another side of this house is the inscription: "God smote the hillside and
gave them drink" August 16, 1864.
Today Providence Spring is visible on a slope below some of the reconstructed walls of the
Andersonville National Historic Site. There is staining on the stone at the spring's
place of origin which had the caretakers of the site place a modern sign: "Water unfit for
human consumption: PLEASE DO NOT DRINK".

Providence+Spring+2.jpg






080204_16_ProvidenceSpringMemorial.jpg


277695235_5BZv2-L.jpg



Sources:

- "The Miracle of Providence Spring"
www.bivouacbooks.com

- "Providence Spring"
www.roadsideamerica.com

- "Andersonville: The Hidden Story"
www.timetracts.com

- "Providence Spring House - Andersonville National Historic Site"
www.nps.gov

- "Providence Spring"
www.suckercreek.org

- "Providence Spring Marker - Historic Markers Across Georgia"
www.lat34north.com

- "Andersonville, 1897. Providence Spring, Andersonville, Decoration..."
www.cdm.sos.state.ga.us

- "Prison Life in Andersonville" with special reference to the opening of Providence"
www.archive.org

- "Providence Spring at Anersonville (2011, house, neighborhoods..."
www.city-data.com

--BBF
 

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Lee

Colonel
Joined
Mar 25, 2012
Messages
2,448
#4
If you are really interested in how Confederate POWs were treated research Ft. Douglass outside of Chicago.
 

Lee

Colonel
Joined
Mar 25, 2012
Messages
2,448
#7
Oh please. Let's not start up that BS on a nice post about a spring at Camp Sumter.
I beg your pardon Ole but JessGettysburg1863 asked if Confederate POWs were treated as badly by the Union just a few posts back. If you scroll up you will find it. Answering another poster's question is BS?
 

Lee

Colonel
Joined
Mar 25, 2012
Messages
2,448
#13
Not a very pretty picture at Camp Douglas either Lee.
No it wasn't. Unlike Sumter/Andersonville there was plenty of blankets, food, and medicene available but it was withheld out of pure meaness. I enjoyed reading the story about the federal POWs praying for relief and then the rain came and the spring appeared. Trying to put myself in thier place at that time those soldiers must have surely felt thier prayers had been answered.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Messages
3,408
Location
Living in Kilmore in Victoria Australia
#16
No it wasn't. Unlike Sumter/Andersonville there was plenty of blankets, food, and medicene available but it was withheld out of pure meaness. I enjoyed reading the story about the federal POWs praying for relief and then the rain came and the spring appeared. Trying to put myself in thier place at that time those soldiers must have surely felt thier prayers had been answered.
How very true.
 

Lee

Colonel
Joined
Mar 25, 2012
Messages
2,448
#19
It was fun to research the little known spring.

Not sure why it was little covered in the public arena

--BBF
Good point..........I have been reading about and studying the ACW for decades and still I come across great new information and stories. Great thread sez I...........
 

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