Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Andersonville - the park

Andersonville is a sad episode in our history. The Confederate supply system had a hard time feeding all of its soldiers in the field much less the various prison camps. In the North and South the conditions in the prison camps were truly horrific. Andersonville though is the one we hear the most about.

It is a beautiful place to visit, a place more for reflection than study. Considering the horrors this place saw it seems odd that it is so peaceful now. The visitor's center does not just tell the story of Andersonville or prison camps in the Civil War, it is used to tell the whole story of prisoners of war up to the modern day.

But why I went there was to see the prison camp and cemetery.

This is the reconstruction of the north gate, looking into the compound.

Inside the gate.

Here you can see the posts for the deadline and the stockade. The park has placed two rows of posts all around the camp where the stockade wall and deadline were. The markers are now about 75-100 feet apart.
Here is a view from the other side of the camp from the gates showing as much of the ground as I could get in a shot. The camp extended to nearly the tree line, but not quite.

In one corner of the camp they have reconstructed the stockade walls and the deadline with some shelters that would have been used by the Union prisoners.

On August 9, 1864 a heavy rainstorm revealed a spring within the compound, providing fresh water as the small stream running through the camp had long been polluted by men who used it to wash and as a toilet. The men named it Providence Spring as they thought God had provided them with the spring. In 1901 this monument/building was built to commemorate the event. The spring still flows today.

There were several forts around the camp to keep the prisoners at bay and also to ward off a feared cavalry attack. The site provides a good spot for a panorama of the camp. In the first picture some monuments can be seen above the north gate. These are located in one corner of the camp. On the right side of the first picture you can see some white splotches, that is the reconstructed camp and is the other corner of the camp.

The closer corners are hard to make out but they nearly come up to the park road. If you open up these pictures you can see the white posts but they are hard to see otherwise.


Slamdunk said...

Good post--I have always wanted to go there, but have never made it.

Chris Evans said...

I have been there twice. A tremendously moving place. The ground emanates with sadness. If there are ghosts or something left behind they are there. The cemetery is awe-inspiring. I have seen the graves of the six raiders that are set apart. You just shake your head that they could do the things they did to their fellow man. I believe it is one of the most important historical sites in America. The story should never be forgotten. I can understand how Kantor could write such a huge novel trying to sort the tragic story out. The movie 'Andersonville' also does a great job in telling the story. It looks very close to the real place. Andersonville is a place that all Americans should visit.
Thanks for the post Nick,

c_hope said...

I have done some reading on Andersonville but never knew about the spring that the prisoners found that is still running today. Terrific post.

Chris Evans said...

Here is an interesting article about a experience that some reenactors had at Andersonville: http://www.28thga.org/unit_article_fog_andersonville.html

Makes for some spooky reading.