Andersonville Prison is located at Camp Sumter in Georgia. It was the largest Confederate Military Prison.

Andersonville was established in February,1863, and set on 495 acres. The site today contains Andersonville National Historic Site, the Civil War Prison, Andersonville National Cemetery and The National Prisoner Of War Museum.

Due to starvation, malnutrition, and murder, there were 12,913 Union prisoners of war who died at Andersonville.

Early in the war, prisoners from both sides were paroled and sent home, where they waited for formal exchange before returning to active duty. After Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops murdered a group of mostly black soldiers at Fort Pillow in Tennessee,
Union Lieutenat General Ulysses S.Grant stopped the policy of paroling soldiers. He also ordered camps to be built to hold Confederate soldiers until the South agreed to treat white and black Union soldiers the same. However, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee refused to agree to equal treatment, so Confederate military and political leaders ordered camps built to house Union soldiers.

Confederate Major General Howell Cobb and former Georgia Governor suggested using the interior part of the state of Georgia for a prisoner of war camp, hoping it would be far enough from the front lines that it would be safe from Union Cavalry raids. The Sumter County area was chosen and the camp opened in February, 1864.

Due to food shortages in the South, Andersonville was always short of food. When there were ample amounts, the quality was poor. When the camp was first opened the water supply was thought to be ample, but soon became contaminated due to the overcrowding. By the summer of 1864, starvation and disease killed almost one third of the camp’s population.

The guards did not have it any better–dying of the same things the prisoners did. A Union soldier, upon entering the camp, saw the men and conditions and said “Can this be Hell? God help us.”

There was a light fence set 19-25 feet inside the walls that was known as The Dead Zone. Anyone crossing it would be shot.

Another problem faced by the men in Andersonville was a group of thugs called the Raiders. Armed with mostly clubs, they stole food, money, jewelry, and clothes from the men–even killing to get what they wanted. After several months, a group of men known as the Regulators put a stop to the Raiders by overpowering them. The Raiders were put on trial with the jury made up of new arrivals. After being found guilty, the Raiders were made to run the gauntlet, sent to the stocks, or put on ball and chains. Six were hung.

After the fall of Atlanta in the autumn, the prisoners were sent to Millen, Georgia and Florence, South Carolina where conditions were much improved. When Sherman’s march to the sea began the prisoners were sent back to Andersonville where conditions had somewhat improved.

During the war almost 45,000 prisoners were at Andersonville, and of that number, 12,913 died, which was 40% of all of the prisoners that died in Confedrate camps.

After the war Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville, was tried for murder and conspiracy. After being found guilty, Wirz was hanged on November 10,1865. He was the only Confederate to be tried and convicted.

The prison grounds is now a National Cemetery and has 13,714 graves, of which 921 are marked as unknown. The Grand Army of the Republics, Georgia Department, purchased Andersonville in 1891 with money from subcriptions and membership dues from the North. In 1910 the federal Government bought the site.