Fresh Spring Water at Andersonville Prison


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#24
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
Great post ! Here's a song about the spring. Be sure and turn up your speakers : http://www.goddidntchoosesides.com/providence-spring/
 

ole

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#26
Kind of a useless thread. Ain't nobodies POWs treated as our modern sensibilities would like to see.

Life sustainable food and shelter. We can have many hissy fits about which prisons were worse than others, but it remains that shelter and rations were a dividing line.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#27
Yes, to bring up whose was worse takes away from the singular suffering North and South- was the blatant inhumanity at Andersonville worse than what the north did in ' retaliation '? Both had a lot of explaining to do when everyone got to those Gates everyone's worried about passing unimpeded.

The original story in this thread is pretty amazing, missed that!
 

James B White

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#28
Along with the ghost stories of Andersonville comes another unbelievable account of "paranormal" activity. Bumped to top.
I'm missing what's paranormal about this. It storms in Georgia sometimes. The area is one where springs would be expected and a hard rain and flood could be expected to erode the ground and wash one out.

The story seems more an excellent illustration of how human minds interpret events and craft narratives around them.

Among the thousands of prisoners, there were surely at least some people praying for relief every day. Many suffered and died before the spring appeared (and after, too), but in hindsight, when a "miracle" occurs, people want to believe that the ones who happened to be praying just before, finally caused it. Lighting is traditionally interpreted as a sign of a god, so whether the lightning struck the exact area and caused the spring, or whether it simply struck nearby, witnesses would be likely to interpret it to be the cause of the spring in answer to prayers.

We're hardwired to craft events into that sort of problem-solving narrative, because it usually works. If there's a problem, people keep trying different solutions until one of them succeeds; then everyone can consider that the right solution, tell others about it, and use it again.

In helpless circumstances, people want to believe they still have some way of controlling events, so they pray or perform other rituals, believing that someone/something in control can be enticed to help solve the problem. When their circumstances improve, they correlate whatever they were doing with the improvement. Even if the solution is essentially random, people credit their success to having found the "right" solution.

In this case, of course, if the prisoners had indeed finally found the right solution to getting what they needed, they could have prayed in the same way for food, clothing, health, etc., but either that never occurred to anyone among 30,000 desperate men, or the spring was a coincidence, just as a lottery winner can't repeat his technique and see it work again.

I expect I'll get criticized for this post, for spoiling the fun of believing the event was paranormal, but I see it as no different than those who want to spoil my fun of trying to understand human behavior by expecting everyone to believe a paranormal explanation. In other words, no big deal. Not everyone needs to interpret historic events the same way, and those who want to believe it's paranormal will do so and those who see a different interpretation will do so also.
 

James B White

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#30
Anyway........

Excellent OP really enjoyed the read
Why the "anyway...."?

I posted what I thought was a reasonable interpretation of the behavior of the people at the time. If one disagrees, fine, but personally I'd find it interesting to read other interpretations, including the reasons that the event could not have happened in a "normal" way and therefore should be interpreted as "paranormal." I thought that's what discussing history was all about.

Wait... Just saw that this thread is in Campfire Chat, not any of the Civil War History folders. Okay, then, this is the place for feel-good stories and not serious discussion. You're right; I'm wrong. My mistake. I'm out.
 
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#32
From what first hand accounts that I've read & some testimony from the Wirtz trial most prisoners attributed the appearance of the spring as a miracle from God, hence Providence Spring.
Paranormal ???? Here's some definitions:

miracle

mir•a•cle (ˈmɪr ə kəl)

n.
1. an extraordinary occurrence that surpasses all known human powers or natural forces and is ascribed to a divine or supernatural cause, esp. to God.
2. a superb or surpassing example of something; wonder; marvel.

par·a·nor·mal (păr′ə-nôr′məl)
adj.
Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation: such paranormal phenomena as telepathy; a medium's paranormal powers.
 
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#33
In war a lot of people wonder that if there is a God why would He allow such suffering etc.
these same people will also say that they are alive by the grace of God. That its a Miricle or Divine intervention that they are alive & all those that were around them were killed.
Guess we'll all find out after we die. Unless of coarse there is no afterlife then you won't know **** anyway.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#34
Yes well the post was bumped by BBF, as stated, for the express purpose of bringing the paranormal into the conversation. I understand not everyone believes in ' this kind of thing', in which case it's really just fine to allow the whole thing to pass unremarked on.

I've noticed an awful lot of skeptics are also church goers, which to me, begs the question of believing in a kind of large, invisible, benevelolent ( or not, depending on one's religious dictates )' man' in the sky somewhere overseeing all this down here, but not one who would bestir himself further by poking a small hole in the ground. What else is an invisible deity with power over life, the universe and everything ( Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy ) other than paranormal? He'd help revive a wedding reception which showed signs of being a flop a bazillion years ago, by giving the ok to Jesus, go ahead, change the chemical make up of those jugs, give them some wine', but a comparitively measly miracle of opening up a spring would be beyond Him?

That's what I'm not buying. I'm a reverse skeptic.
 

Custers Luck

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#35
Anyway, BBF I would like to thank you for all your hard work you put into this post, even tho it was some time ago.I have not heard of this, and Im glad it was pulled again!!! you did an excellent job.. How the spring came about is really something!!!! well documented miracle.
 

Dave Hull

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#37
Definitely a must see if you are in Georgia. I made the trip from Columbus to Andersonville four times in the years I was at Ft Benning. The drive down there alone was enough to convince anyone that it was not a place you wanted to go. To see the small area which was the prison and know that mass of humanity crammed inside, one needs little assistance in mentally confirmed that Hell on earth actually exists.

On three of my four trips, the freak, savage Georgia summer storm forced me to take cover under the pines in the cemetery on the way back to the car. Hail, torrential rain and 50 mile an hour winds sprang up from nowhere. I had grown accustomed to these freak storms having been in Georgia for a few years, but for men unaccustomed to a Georgia storm, and the three, four or six month droughts, brutal heat and suffocating humidity which preceded them, it is understandable how one would assign a divine intervention.
 

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