My daughter has recently introduced me to podcasts, and while on my way to Andersonville, one of the largest Confederate military prisons, Conan O’Brien was discussing it on his podcast. Weird, huh? Guess I was destined to go, but Conan never made it as his wife vetoed the tour. So I sent him the brochure with a note. As a former prison administrator in another life, I always feel compelled to visit whatever prison is available for tour, and this one was particularly moving and upsetting.
One of the main reasons for prisoner deaths was lack of water. The minimal water they did receive flowed from an area which had been used for bathing and toiletting, therefore, contaminated. During a violent storm lightning struck, and another water source miraculously came about for the prisoners.
There are several monuments from various states on the grounds. The area is serene with deer abounding, and picnic sites available for families. On the day of my visit I was the only visitor. When I inquired of the park ranger he stated that August is their slowest month, so if interested consider an August visit.
This pink stone commemorates the work of Clara Barton. She did much to assist with looking for missing soldiers. Working with Dorence Atwater, she obtained the secret second list he maintained of those who died with their grave locations. This enabled families to locate their loved ones and from this list
95 percent of the graves identified.*
Soldiers were buried side by side in trench graves.
At the Visitor Center the POW Museum is located.
The Museum has an exceptional movie describing Andersonville, and many exhibits regarding prisoners of war. At Andersonville less than 1 percent escaped, and those successful did so by running away during work detail. Many attempts were made at tunneling out of the prison, but these were the least successful.
There were other examples of POW housing situations in the Museum as well.
Not an easy museum to visit, cannot imagine living this experience.
But at times good things do happen.
Not far from the National Park is a cute small town with a campground should you wish to visit. It was closed during my visit, but worth a try as it is a stones throw from Andersonville.
Next: Warm Springs
*Much of the information written on the Plains, GA. and Andersonville blogs are paraphrased from park brochures.