Andersonville Prison Photos
Pictures Old and New of Andersonville Civil War Prison
In 2010, I visited Andersonville, Georgia to see the museum and national cemetery there honoring the Union prisoners who suffered and died in that place. My personal motive was to find out more about my great-great grandfather who was an Andersonville survivor.
The photos below include ones I took on that visit, plus vintage Andersonville photos from the Civil War and photos by others who visited Andersonville. Hopefully it will give you a mini-tour of this historic site if you are unable to visit it yourself.
Photos Taken during the Civil War of Andersonville
Photo from the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress features some of its photo collection on the Zazzle site. Andersonville Prison, GA 1864 by lc_civilwar - photo was taken August 17, 1864.
Very few photos exist from the 1860s showing Andersonville Prison while it was filled with Union prisoners of war. This picture gives you a feeling for the crowded, unsanitary conditions of that time.
No shelter was provided, so the prisoners used bits of canvas, clothing and anything they could to create a place to get out of the broiling southern sun or the winter cold. Even though it was in Georgia, the winter months could be bitterly cold.
Imagine being out in the rain on a chilly December night with the temperature around 40 degrees. Your tattered clothing would be soaking wet. If you had comrades, you could huddle together, trying to preserve some of your body heat.
Thousands Died And Are Buried Nearby
Imagine 30,000 men crowded together on this site. Look up at the stockade & feel their despair.
Andersonville Photos - Taken by Virginia AllainClick thumbnail to view full-size
The photos I took on a sunny day at Andersonville make it hard to imagine the misery of thousands of starving and ill prisoners surrounded by filth, fighting to stay alive for just one more day, then one more day.— Virginia Allain
Have You Been to Andersonville?
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As You Walk around Andersonville, Read the Informative Plaques
Imagining My Ancestor in a Civil War Prison
When he first walked into Andersonville, he was a fit soldier, his muscles honed by 2 years of marching from Tennessee to Mississippi to Georgia. Sometimes the troops moved by rail, but often it was by foot.
His uniform showed he was from the 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Hardened by battles and time in camps, he must still have been appalled by the ragged, lice-ridden creatures that surrounded him as he entered the prison stockade.
They asked for news of the war. He knew only his part in it, the recent defeat of the Union troops by Major General Forrest. As a foot soldier, he knew little of the details, other than the hurried march to aid the Union cavalry under attack at Brice's Crossroads.
The heavy shelling of the infantry with grapeshot forced them back across the river. Already worn out by the forced march to the battle, around 1500 were captured during the retreat. He was one of the soldiers captured.
The surprise tactics of the Rebels in Mississippi separated the larger Union forces, leading to the capture of many Yankees. After days traveling on creaky box cars under armed guard, the new arrivals to the prison were exhausted, hungry and apprehensive.
What would be their fate? Hopefully, they would be exchanged soon. Their hopes fell abruptly as they entered the gates of Andersonville Prison.
The condition of the prisoners already inside the stockade horrified the new arrivals. They saw over 30,000 men, emaciated and dressed in tattered remnants of Union blue, now faded and covered in dirt.
How could they survive in a place so filled with filth? There were no arrangements for shelter, no sewage system, skimpy rations, and barely space to lie down to sleep. They must have felt they'd arrived in hell.
He would spend the next 6 months as a prisoner of war in the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
(Originally written for Niume by Virginia Allain, that site no longer exists)
Learn More about Andersonville
- Andersonville Timeline 1864
In reading many diaries and books on Andersonville, I've created this timeline. It will help me and others trying to understand their ancestor's experience in this Civil War prison.
Informative Signs Like This Explaine the Scene Before You
Read More about It - Andersonville: The Last Depot
When I read this, I was prepared for horrifying descriptions of the prison, but it's hard to brace yourself for all the details. This draws on many diaries and military records, so it shows the way the overcrowding and starvation developed due to mismanagement and wartime disruptions to supplies and manpower.
It gave me more of a perspective for why things got so bad in the prison.
The Nation Grieved
Nancy Hardin commented: "I've always found everything about the Civil War fascinating. So many died, the cemeteries are so quiet and sad. We fought each other, brother, father, uncle, nephew, as though we hated the other, and in truth, at that time we did. When it was all over and people came to their senses, the nation grieved and still does to this day."
Read the Sad Details of Andersonville Prison
This one won the Pulitzer Prize. I read it in college back in the 1960s and was appalled at the conditions. Little did I know back then, that my ancestor, my great-great-grandfather, lived through the terrible happenings I read about in this book.
I need to read it again with the knowledge I now have of my ancestor's experience there.
Background Information on Starvation at Andersonville
- Starvation at Andersonville Prison
Andersonville Prison in Georgia was notorious for the starvation suffered by Union soldiers there during the Civil War. Why did it happen and how did the prisoners survive the brutal conditions there?
- What Is Scorbutus?
It's an old-fashioned word that you might find describing an American Civil War soldier. Read more about this health problem that caused the deaths of many in years gone by.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Virginia Allain