The deadliest arena of the American Civil War lies in rural southwest Georgia.
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It is not a battlefield.
It’s a baby area, 26 ½ acres, almost bisected the admeasurement of Hartford’s Bushnell Park. There, over the advance of 14 months alpha in February 1864, about 13,000 Union prisoners of war died, principally from disease, starvation and maltreatment.
Known to history as Andersonville Prison, afterwards the adjacent village, Affected Sumter was a abode of abhorrence and despair. Added than 300 Connecticut soldiers asleep there, and today lay active in the Andersonville Civic Cemetery, accustomed in July 1865.
How the nation abstruse about the altitude central the stockade, and why best abandoned graves are apparent by name, was abundantly due to the efforts of two Andersonville survivors from Connecticut — Sgt. Maj. Robert H. Kellogg of Wethersfield and Pvt. Dorence Atwater of Terryville.
Like abounding prisoners, Kellogg kept a annual during his captivity. It became the base for a book, appear in Hartford in 1865, that provided readers with a first-person annual of altitude central Andersonville and added Southern prisons.
Its advertisement briefly advance Kellogg into the civic spotlight, and he testified for the case in the balloon of the affected commander, Capt. Henry Wirz.
Decades later, he would allege for all adolescent survivors at the 1907 adherence of the Connecticut cairn at the Andersonville cemetery. A archetype of the memorial’s bronze — accepted as the Andersonville Boy — stands alfresco the Connecticut Capitol.
Atwater, as a teenager, assisted the affected surgeon in recording captive deaths. Unbeknownst to his captors, and at ample claimed peril, he secretly affected the camp’s official cycle and banned it out of affected afterwards actuality paroled.
He alternate to Georgia in the summer of 1865 with his acquaintance Clara Barton, the architect of the American Red Cross, and helped the U.S. Army bout abandoned graves with their occupants, afresh notified ancestors associates of the fate of their admired ones. The Atwater afterlife roll, absolute about 13,000 names, was appear by Horace Greeley in 1866.
“We go as far to say actuality he was distinct best important captive to be captivated here,” said Eric Leonard, arch of estimation and apprenticeship at the Civic Park Account Andersonville Civic Historic Site.
Neither Kellogg nor Atwater (despite his bashful canonizing in his hometown of Plymouth), is abundant remembered today.
Hell On Earth
The afflictive analysis of prisoners of war — both Union and Confederate — charcoal one of the Civil War’s best base legacies.
Of the 194,000 Union prisoners, added than 30,000 died in Southern prisons; 26,000 of 214,000 Confederate POWs absent their lives in the North.
Most of the deaths occurred during the war’s final two years. Formal captive exchanges were apoplectic in mid-1863 because of the Confederacy’s abnegation to acknowledgment atramentous POWs, and the South’s added atrocious manpower curtailment gave Union aggressive leaders little allurement to resume the exchanges.
By aboriginal summer 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s blood-soaked overland attack to booty Richmond, and Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s attack to abduction Atlanta, had swelled bastille rolls on both sides.
The bastille at Andersonville, amid in an agronomical arena with ache dupe and fresh-flowing streams, was declared to abate bottleneck at added Confederate facilities. Designed to authority 10,000 captives, it opened on Feb. 1, 1864, with aboriginal occupants transferred from added bastille hospitals.
The bastille had already accustomed a less-than-savory acceptability by the time Kellogg and added men from the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment were led through the stockade gates on May 3, 1863.
Nearly the absolute regiment, 459 men, had been taken captive on April 20 at Plymouth, N.C. Afore surrendering, the men had cut up their regimental banderole and broadcast the pieces amid themselves. Afterwards the war, the actual bits were restitched into the banderole that today hangs in the Hall of Flags in the accompaniment Capitol.
First Sgt. Oliver W. Gates, Co. F., 16th Connecticut, recorded his antecedent consequence of the overcrowded, begrimed affected in one of several affidavit of Andersonville captives captivated by the Connecticut Historical Society.
“And if any afterimage would accomplish a man’s affection sink, the average of this pen would. Twelve thousand men angry into this abode aloof like so abounding beasts not a timberline or apartment of any affectionate to assure from the sun or rain or algid … it was the hardest balloon of my life.”
The ellipsoidal stockade complete of vertical, anchored ache logs originally amid 16 acres. It was continued to 26 ½ acreage in July aback the bedfellow citizenry had risen to 31,000. Water was provided by a baby beck that bisected the stockade. The “Plymouth Pilgrims,” as associates of the 16th Regiment were known, camped forth the stream, whose life-sustaining amnion became added foul. The belled “dead line” area a man could be arbitrarily attempt by guards if he ventured too near, ran forth the autogenous perimeter.
Prisoners who had retained blankets and haversacks acclimated them to appearance makeshift tents and shelters. Those beneath advantageous burrowed into the clay like gophers or artlessly lay nakedly apparent to bath rain or baking sun. Rations were beneath than bare on the best of canicule and generally infested with maggots. Sanitation was nonexistent. Ache was aggressive and lice were everywhere.
To add to their misery, prisoners endured an aloof administering and hostile, trigger-happy guards. Kellogg declared Wirz, the affected commander, as “a wretch of the aboriginal or affliction degree; insolent, overbearing, brutal and of advance a coward, for no man but a alarmist would appear into affected and draw a blaster aloft abandoned men as he had done.”
A alternation of baffled escapes and apocryphal rumors of approaching exchanges added depressed morale. And for several months, there was the connected blackmail airish by a assemblage of prisoners, accepted as the raiders, who preyed aloft the others.
“There is four or bristles hundred men in actuality that accomplish a business of bloodthirsty and annexation and they do not alternate to annihilate any man for ten dollars several accept been begin dead,” wrote Gates, who, with his buddies, slept with clubs adjacent and exhausted several raiders about to afterlife who dared adventure too close.
Maintaining brotherhood and regimental conduct accustomed men of the 16th to advance their affairs for survival. “If you came in as a adamant network, statistics say you will survive,” Leonard said.
Even so, by August 1864, hundreds of men were dying anniversary day. No one’s affairs of adaptation looked actual good. Kellogg, a 20-year-old adept who had enjoyed adequately acceptable heath to that point, developed scurvy, which had claimed hundreds of lives already.
“I admiration if they knew at home of our absolute action here,” he wrote. “If the nation itself knew of it, it seems as if we would be liberated, alike if an army had to be aloft for this assignment alone.”
Remembering The Dead
That month, Atwater secretly began artful the captive afterlife registry.
A abundance agent afore the war, Atwater had enlisted at age 16 in August 1861. While acting as a bagman for a ablaze army regiment afterward the action of Gettysburg, he was taken captive in Hagerstown, Md., and beatific to Belle Island Bastille in Richmond.
His adolescence and accomplished calligraphy becoming him a acquittal from the accepted citizenry to abetment with record-keeping. He was transferred to Andersonville In March 1864, fell ill and was taken to the bastille hospital where, assault the odds, he recovered.
He was afresh assigned to the affected surgeon to log affected deaths, actuality assured that the account would eventually be angry over to the U.S. government.
Those assurances began to assume doubtable as the anthology grew and grew.
Each anatomy was assigned a grave cardinal advertisement the soldier’s name, company, regiment, date and account of afterlife afore abatement to the burying area a half-mile from the stockade. The asleep were laid out side-by-side in 4-foot-deep trenches. There were no coffins.
Atwater acquainted that he bare to do article so that ancestors associates would apperceive the fate and final comatose atom of their admired ones. “His acute was to accept answers for everyone,” Leonard explained.
When Atwater was paroled from Andersonville in March 1865, he banned his archetype of the anthology central the lining of his coat.
After abiding briefly to Terryville to achieve his health, he catholic to Washington, D.C. with the document. The affirmation set into motion a U.S. Army campaign to the bastille affected in July 1865, with Clara Barton and Atwater in tow to locate and mark abandoned gravesites.
Some 12,920 board headboards were erected, and Barton abreast ancestors associates that “for the almanac of your asleep you are accountable to the forethought, adventuresomeness and backbone of a 19-year-old soldier called Dorence Atwater.”
The adolescent soldier’s postwar adventures became a scriptwriter’s dream: court-martialed and bedevilled to 18 months adamantine activity in September 1865 afterwards a altercation with the Army over the buying of the registry, he was appear afterwards two months through the efforts of affecting accompany such as Barton and Greeley.
He afresh began a career in the adept account which led to a announcement in Tahiti in 1871. There, he prospered in business, affiliated a built-in angel and became abutting accompany with columnist Robert Louis Stevenson
Not until 1898, through the lobbying of Connecticut officials, did the War Department set abreast his court-martial. He alternate to Terryville with his helpmate in 1908 to appearance the canonizing committed to him in Baldwin Park the year before, with his acquaintance Barton in attendance.
Atwater died in San Francisco in 1910. The afterward year the anatomy of the man accepted to the Tahitian citizenry as Tupuatooroa, or “wise man,” was transported aback to the island for burying with honor.
Kellogg drifted off the civic date afterward his affidavit at Wirz’s trial. His above annoyance was begin accusable of war crimes by aggressive attorneys and accomplished in November 1865, the alone Confederate official so convicted.
“Our government cannot be captivated avenging for alone captivation one being responsible,” Kellogg remarked afterwards.
In October 1907, he and 102 added above Connecticut POWs boarded the “Andersonville Special” in New Haven for a acknowledgment cruise to Georgia for the adherence of the Connecticut Canonizing at the Andersonville Civic Cemetery.
He acclaimed wryly that clashing added than 40 years earlier, aback they were awash into bales cars, the age-old veterans this time catholic aboriginal class. At the adherence ceremony, Kellogg batten eloquently on account of all about their awful, aggregate acquaintance and what it meant.
“Andersonville becomes an article assignment in patriotism. To this retired and admirable atom will bags resort in the continued years to come, to apprentice afresh and afresh acquaint of ballsy cede fabricated by those who so agilely beddy-bye in these continued rows of graves.”
His words accepted prophetic. In 1998, the Civic Captive of War Museum, anniversary POWs from all the nation’s wars, opened at Andersonville.
Kellogg, who had confused to Ohio afterwards the war, died in February 1932.
To apprentice about Andersonville and the prisoner-of-war acquaintance in the Civil War, appointment the website for the Civic Park Account Andersonville Civic Historic Site at nps.gov/ande
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