Andersonville National Historic Site – Andersonville, Georgia
This is a 515-acre park developed in honor of all those from the Civil War that were imprisoned here. The difficult life for the prisoners and those that were guarding them is commemorated at this park. Located in Sumter County the camp was chosen as the location for the prison because the community was small and therefore were unable to resist the building of such an unpopular facility. Prisoners began arriving at the prison in February of 1864.
The prison was designed for a population of 10,000 but as early as June of 1864 there were 20,000 prisoners locked up at the camp. The camp was expanded and by August there were over 33,000 Union prisoners held on the 26.5 acres that the camp had acquired by this time.
With the Union army occupying Atlanta in September of 1865 the South decided they needed to transfer most of the Union prisoners to other camps in Georgia and South Carolina. By mid-November, all but about 1500 prisoners had been shipped out of Andersonville, and only a few guards remained to police them. Transfers to Andersonville in late December increased the numbers of prisoners once again, but even then the prison population totaled only about 5000 persons. The number of prisoners at the prison would remain this low until the war ended in April of 1865. During the 15 months during which Andersonville was operated, almost 13,000 Union prisoners died there of malnutrition, exposure, and disease; Andersonville became synonymous with the atrocities which both North and South soldiers experienced as prisoners of war.
When the war ended the plot of ground near the prison where nearly 13,000 Union soldiers had been buried was administered by the United States government as a National Cemetery. The prison reverted to private hands and was planted in cotton and other crops until the land was acquired by the Grand Army of the Republic of George in 1891. During their administration, stone monuments were constructed to mark various portions of the prison including the four corners of the inner stockade and the North and South Gates.
Andersonville Prison ceased to exist in May 1865. Some former prisoners remained in Federal service, but most returned to the civilian occupations they had before the war. During July and August 1865, Clara Barton, a detachment of laborers and soldiers, and a former prisoner named Dorence Atwater came to Andersonville cemetery to identify and mark the graves of the Union dead. As a prisoner, Atwater was assigned to record the names of deceased Union soldiers for the Confederates. Fearing the loss of the death record at war’s end, Atwater made his own copy in hopes of notifying the relatives of some 12,000 dead interred at Andersonville. Thanks to his list and the Confederate records confiscated at the end of the war, only 460 of the Andersonville graves had to be marked ” Unknown U.S. Soldier.”
An audio tour is available for rent at a nominal fee tour the site. Ranger talks are given daily at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM at the Prison Site.
Directions: Andersonville is located 10 miles north of Americus along Georgia Hwy 49.
Phone Number: (229) 924-0343