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Prisoners' Memories of Andersonville Prison

Updated on December 17, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.


First-Hand Accounts of a Civil War Prison

Two years ago I visited Andersonville, Georgia. Standing on that ground where thousands died, I looked up at the stockade walls and the guard tower. Trying to visualize how my great-great grandfather might have felt being in that Civil War prison was beyond my imagination.

I've searched for first-hand accounts by Union prisoners to see more what the experience was like. I've gathered what I've found here. If you are looking for primary source material on Andersonville Prison then you just hit the jackpot. Brace yourself, as reading the memories of that horrible experience may linger unpleasantly in your mind for a long time to come.

Andersonville Diary of Lawson "Lot" Hannibal Carley - Read the diary online

He arrived at Andersonville Prison August 5, 1864. This would have been a few months after my great-great grandfather got there. Lot was transferred to another prison on September 7, 1864.

You can read his diary online.

Aug. 20, 1864 - blazing hot sun comes down on the thousands that have no shelter

The Horrors of Andersonville Exposed in a Civil War Newspaper

As prisoners were finally released back to the Union, the public was outraged to see how much they had suffered as prisoners of war.
As prisoners were finally released back to the Union, the public was outraged to see how much they had suffered as prisoners of war. | Source

Comment About the Climate at Andersonville And Illness

Michael Stephen Bryant said I could share his personal experience which is a modern day one. He wrote, "I was in the TNT Mini-Series Andersonville. It was easy to see why so many soldiers died there. During the days in October, it was 70 degrees but very hot. Every night about 4 am a cloud of mist settled on the ground and we woke up with our clothes and blankets soaking wet and cold. Nights were 40 degrees. Even though we hung our blankets up to dry in the sun all day, when we went to bed they were still damp. Our morning call time was 5: 30 AM. But we were awoken by the cold and soaking wet clothes and blankets at 4 AM. Within 2 weeks everyone had a cough so bad, I imagine it to be what whooping cough sounds like. In less than two weeks everyone was sick."

Michael Stephen Bryant gave me permission to share this photo showing him and another actor experiencing Andersonville and finding out what it was like being there for several weeks.
Michael Stephen Bryant gave me permission to share this photo showing him and another actor experiencing Andersonville and finding out what it was like being there for several weeks. | Source

David S. Whitenack's Memories of Andersonville - Read it online

Reminiscences of the Civil War: Andersonville published in the Indiana Magazine of History

We were ragged and dirty and scarcely able to walk

Diary of Charles Lepley Who Died in Andersonville - Read the whole diary online

The diary begins on Jan. 1, 1864. Charles Lepley belonged to a Pennsylvania regiment. His diary is available to read on an Ancestry. com message board.

Sunday, May 22, 1864

Three or four hundred more prisoners were brought in today

Videos to Give You a Quick Overview of Andersonville Prison's History

Around 45,000 Union soldiers (prisoners of war) passed through the gates of this prison. Of those, 14,000 died during their time there.

John Bott - Andersonville

YouTube Slide Show about Andersonville and the Suffering of the Men There

Prison Diary of Michael Dougherty - Read it online

He arrived at Andersonville on February 14, 1864. Michael Dougherty, was in company B, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry and ended up a prisoner in several Confederate prisons, including Andersonville.

July 6 - Rations, one pint of meal and 2 or 3 spoonfuls of beans and 2 ounces of bacon

Some men crossed the dead line on purpose to be killed and thus put an end to their sufferings

Civil War Memories of John S. Baisden - Preview 15 pages online



Transcribed by Robert Nord and Linda Baisden |

Ways That Andersonville Resembled WWII Concentration Camps

Andersonville is such a sad part of this time period. The photos, diaries and videos remind us of the Nazi concentration camps. How horrible that Americans did these things to each other.

Similarities between Andersonville and WWII Concentration Camps

  • They arrived after days of travel, crammed into boxcars on a train.
  • The starvation of the prisoners
  • Lining up daily for roll call and standing long periods of time in the heat or cold.
  • The deadline around the interior of the camp.
  • The use of dogs to intimidate the prisoners and track down any who tried to escape.
  • Attempts to demoralize the prisoners by telling them their government had abandoned them.
  • Some prisoners lost all hope, became listless and died.
  • Some prisoners committed suicide rather than endure the horrible conditions any longer.
  • Diseases spread quickly in the overcrowded conditions.

Ways that it wasn't similar

  • At Andersonville, there was no gas chamber.
  • At WWII concentration camps, overcrowded barracks housed the prisoners. At Andersonville, no shelter was provided.
  • Concentration camps held civilians in WWII including women and children, mostly Jewish. At Andersonville, the prisoners were soldiers.

Read any of the diaries listed here to get first-hand details of life in Andersonville Prison in 1864 and 1865.


More to Come...

As I research further and find more first-hand accounts of Andersonville, I'll add them here. Check back or bookmark this page.

© 2011 Virginia Allain

Let Me Know That You Stopped By

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    • emge profile image

      MG Singh 

      5 months ago from Singapore

      Fascinating article about a subject that is not so well known. Thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This information is brilliant...thank you very much. One of my husbands ancestors died at Andersonville...he was only twenty-two.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful lens. We should never forget the horrors that are created by war.

      Season 4 of "Who Do You Think You Are?" included an episode in which Kelly Clarkson learned that one of her ancestors had been imprisoned at Andersonville.

    • Barbie Crafts profile image

      Barbie Crafts 

      6 years ago from United States

      Wow, what an interesting page you have put together. I want to return when I have more time.

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: That's exactly the reason I've been researching and reading all I can on this. Glad it helped.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is so helpful! Thanks for the info. I was so desperately hoping to find as I continue to trace my great-great grandfather's steps as a soldier in the PA 103rd Infantry, Co. A

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      @siobhanryan: It is a very sad thing to read about.

    • siobhanryan profile image


      7 years ago

      Great reference and resource-Imagine that people suffered so much that they preferred to die

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful resource. I've bookmarked it for future reference.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      We are so very blessed to live where we do and hopefully forever without war touching us. How truly sad a time for anyone to exist through.

    • Frischy profile image


      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I was reading a poem last night that mentioned Andersonville & brought your lenses to mind. Back for another look.

    • Cassidy Wadsworth profile image

      Cassidy Wadsworth 

      8 years ago

      I remember how shocked I was when I first saw pictures and read accounts of prisoners at Andersonville prison. Thanks for including all these references for further study!

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 

      8 years ago

      It is strange you know but I am drawn to information on the Civil War and The Alamo. It's strange because I am Canadian and should be more interested in what happened on the Plains of Abraham. Go figure .... I'm going to have to keep an eye on your lenses. There is not enough time in a day to do everything I want to do .... ggggrrrrrr ... guess that's what keeps me young (???)

    • artillery lm profile image

      artillery lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens. Very informative. I enjoyed reading this, and thought it to be a highly original topic!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      educational indeed, needed information, earned a 'thumbs up' so I can do my part.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Gosh! I have to literally hold my breath reading this article. It's a very mixed feeling reading about people's diaries... those things they gone thru as prisoners... ! That's why I love to read about the past, helps me to appreciate the present. Thanks again for a yet another wonderful lens. I think I just became your fan...^_^!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Wow, this is great for history lovers. It's always more meaningful when a family member was there. Great job.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 

      8 years ago

      Excellent topic. I have looked at several things on Footnote while researching my genealogy. It is shocking when you dig deep into the details of the Civil War. It is really interesting history.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've never been really interested in history until recently when i seem to have developed an interest because of the stories of people - this is a great lens

    • profile image

      jseven lm 

      8 years ago

      What a sad war and so many deaths! Great, historical info here.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      8 years ago from McLaughlin

      Interesting article on one of the dark times in American History. Thanks for such a good collection of first hand resources!

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops as you add more accounts written by the Andersonville victims.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      8 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This sounds like a precursor to the concentration camps, even down to the "deadline" of the camp, using prisoners to bury the dead and the starvation of prisoners. But this happened right here in the good ol' horrible!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      8 years ago from So Cal

      I did my high school term paper on Andersonville titled "Man's inhumanity to man". It was an appalling topic and one that has stayed with me for more than 40 years. We tend to forget (or ignore) that this is also part of our history. This is a reminder for all of us. .

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I remember reading about Andersonville Prison when I was still in Elementary School. The whole war was so sad.


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