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Andersonville National Historic Site Ghost


Andersonville Prison in 1864 as painted from memory by an ex-prisoner.

The Andersonville prison, located at Camp Sumter, was the largest Confederate military prison during the American Civil War. The site of the prison is now Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville, Georgia. It includes the site of the Civil War prison, the Andersonville National Cemetery, and the National Prisoner of War Museum. 12,913 Union prisoners died there, mostly of diseases. Captain Henry Wirz, commandant, was the only Civil War soldier executed for war crimes.

The park has three main features: the National Prisoner of War Museum, the historic prison site, and the National Cemetery. Andersonville prison was the deadliest prisoner of war camp during the Civil War with a total of nearly 13,000 deaths. Over 40% of all Union prisoners of war who died during the Civil War perished at Andersonville.

From the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom, American prisoners of war have endured untold hardships, and shown tremendous courage. Andersonville NHS commemorates the sacrifices of these brave Americans through exhibits in the National Prisoner of War Museum; preserves the site of Camp Sumter (Andersonville prison); and manages Andersonville National Cemetery. Andersonville National Historic Site is the only park in the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Congress stated in the authorizing legislation that this park's purpose is "to provide an understanding of the overall prisoner of war story of the Civil War, to interpret the role of prisoner of war camps in history, to commemorate the sacrifice of Americans who lost thier lives in such camps, and to preserve the monuments located within the site."

During the summer of 1864 the prisoners suffered greatly from hunger, exposure, and disease, and in seven months about a third of them died due to dysentery. In the autumn, after the capture of Atlanta, all the prisoners who could be moved were sent to Millen, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina. At Millen better arrangements prevailed, and when, after General William Tecumseh Sherman began his march to the sea, the prisoners were returned to Andersonville, the conditions there were somewhat improved.

Andersonville prison

During the war almost 45,000 prisoners were received at the Andersonville prison, and of these 12,913 died. A continual controversy among historians is the nature of the deaths and the reasons for it, with many contending that it was deliberate Confederate war crimes toward Union POW's and others contending that it was merely the result of disease (promoted by severe overcrowding), the shortage of food in the Confederate States, the incompetence of the prison officials, and the refusal of the Federal authorities in 1864 to make exchanges of prisoners, thus filling the stockade with unlooked-for numbers. After the war Henry Wirz, the superintendent, was tried by a court-martial on charges of war crimes and on November 10, 1865, was hanged. Wirz was the only prominent Confederate to have his trial heard and concluded (even the prosecution for Jefferson Davis dropped their case). The revelation of the sufferings of the prisoners was one of the factors that shaped public opinion regarding the South in the Northern states, after the close of the Civil War. The prisoners' burial ground at Andersonville has been made a national cemetery, and contains 13,714 graves of which 921 are marked "unknown".

Many guards of Andersonville also died for the same reasons as the prisoners.

Adam Swarner, a young Cavalryman from New York State was the first prisoner to die at Andersonville. Five months later, his brother Jacob was buried in grave number 4,005 of the National Cemetery.

ANDERSONVILLE NATIONAL CEMETERY

Andersonville National Cemetery was established to provide a permanent place of honor for those who died in military service to our country. The initial interments, beginning in February 1964, were those who died in the nearby prisoner of war camp. Today the cemetery contains nearly 18,000 interments. Andersonville National Cemetery, administered by the National Park Service, uses the same eligibility criteria as cemeteries administered by the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For information regarding eligibility criteria, please visit the website of the National Cemetery Administration at www.cem.va.gov.

Boston Corbett (Sergeant 16th NY Cavalry), the man credited with killing John Wilkes Booth, was a prisoner at Andersonville.

Burial Arrangements

Arrangements for the interment of an eligible veteran or dependent are made by a funeral director or the next of kin at the time of need by contacting the cemetery. Cemetery staff must verify the veteran's eligibility prior to scheduling the interment. To establish eligibility, cemetery staff must be provided with a copy of the veteran's discharge documents or Form DD-214. Gravesites are assigned at the time of need and no advance reservations are made.

Committal Services

Committal services are held in a large open-air structure (the Rostrum) located on the east side of the cemetery. Graveside services are not conducted. The viewing of remains is not permitted in National Cemeteries, and Cemetery staff will not permit a casket to be opened after the hearse has entered the cemetery. Military honors for veterans will be arranged by the funeral director or the next-of-kin. Cemetery staff can provide assistance with contact information. A United States flag is usually provided by the funeral director or next-of-kin and is not provided by the National Cemetery.

Burial Benefits

Cemetery staff will open and close the grave, and also order and erect the headstone provided by the Department of Veteran's Affairs. For specific information about headstone inscriptions, please contact the Cemetery Administrator. Perpetual care of the gravesite will also be provided. A graveliner is required but is not provided by Andersonville National Cemetery. For information regarding other burial benefits, please contact the Department of Veteran's affairs.

Cemetery Regulations

Andersonville National Cemetery serves as a shrine for the nation's honored dead. Regulations have been designed to ensure beauty, dignity and preservation of a reverent atmosphere. Please abide by the following regulations while on the cemetery grounds:

Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and should be kept only on paved areas.
No jogging, picnicking or recreational activities
Please keep your voices lowered
Please place all litter in refuse containers
Please do not sit on headstones or monuments within the cemetery grounds
Grave Decoration Policy

Graves are decorated with small US flags for Memorial Day. Flags may not be placed at any other time.

Fresh-cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time. Artificial arrangements are not allowed from April 15 through October 15. All flowers will be removed when they become faded or unsightly. During the periods ten days before and after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day, potted plants and wreaths are permitted. Christmas wreaths and floral blankets not larger than 2 by 3 feet are permitted from December 1 through January 20. The National Park Service is not responsible for floral arrangements or other items placed in the cemetery. Plantings, statues, vigil lights or other decorations are not permitted at any time. All containers should be non-breakable. Temporary floral vases are available in the Cemetery. Permanent below-ground metal floral containers are not permitted. Containers or other items may not be attached to the headstone.


HISTORIC PRISON SITE

The site of Camp Sumter (Andersonville Prison) is preserved as part of the the National Historic Site. The historic prison site is 26.5 acres outlined with double rows of white posts. Two sections of the stockade wall have been reconstructed, the north gate and the northeast corner.

Camp Sumter was established in late 1863 and early 1864 to provide an additional place to hold Union prisoners captured by Confederate forces. The first prisoners were brought to the new prison in February 1864 from Richmond, Virginia. Camp Sumter has been built to help lessen the crowding in the facilities in and around Richmond. The new prison was orginally designed to hold a maximum of 10,000 prisoners and was 16.5 acres in size. Overcrowding was an almost immediate problem and by early summer an expansion of 10 acres was completed. By August of 1864, Camp Sumter held over 32,000 prisoners and the death rate was a staggering 100+ daily. In 14 months, nearly 13,000 Union prisoners persished.


NATIONAL PRISONER OF WAR MUSEUM

The idea of a Museum to commemorate the sacrifices of all American prisoners of war took root many years ago, when in 1970, Congressional legislation was passed to create Andersonville NHS. This legislation mandated that the new historic site should tell the story of Andersonville and other Civil War era prisons, protect the physical features of the historic prison site and Andersonville National Cemetery, and should “interpret the role of prisoner of war camps in history and to commemorate the sacrifices of Americans who lost their lives in such camps”.

For a number of years, the park maintained a small historic building as the POW museum, with exhibits developed by park staff. In the mid-1980’s the park staff began to work with American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW) a national organization of former POWs and their families, setting in motion the idea that a National Prisoner of War Museum should be a part of this National Park Service unit. It was not until the 1990s when Congress appropriated funding for planning and development of the Museum that the project began in earnest. The NPS and AXPOW continued to work closely together to raise funding and corroborate on both design for the building and for the interpretive exhibits. The overwhelming goal for the project was that the Museum would be a fitting visitor center for the public and give visitors a total understanding of the story of all POWs.

As the project continued, another partnership group joined the effort. The Friends of Andersonville, a group of local and national supporters of the park, became involved in the fund raising process and also served as a petitioner to the state of Georgia for assistance with construction of a new entrance road for the park which would lead directly to the site of the new Museum. Finally in the summer of 1996, construction of the building began. April 9, 1998 not only commemorated the 56th anniversary of the fall of the Island of Bataan during World War II, but marked a new era of interpretation at Andersonville NHS. Thousands of former prisoners of war and their families along with national and local supporters of the park gathered to dedicate the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, Georgia

Ghost of the Battlefield

Many say the spot is very haunted. Reports of groaning and moaning sounds are often heard and recoded as EVP's.

The park grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm Eastern Time, allowing access to both the historic prison site and Andersonville National Cemetery. The National Prisoner of War Museum, which also serves as the park visitor center, opens at 8:30 and also closes at 5:00 pm. The National Prisoner of War Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days and no visitor services are provided. Park grounds, including the National Cemetery, are open on these days.

The National Prisoner of War Museum, which serves as the park visitor center. The Museum opened in 1998.


The park has no entrance fee, and no fees for park interpretive programs. Organized groups of 12 or more who are requesting interpretive programs especially for their group must make reservations at least two weeks in advance.


Andersonville National Historic Site

Operating Hours & Seasons

The National Prisoner of War Museum, which serves as the park visitor center. The Museum opened in 1998.

The park has no entrance fee, and no fees for park interpretive programs. Organized groups of 12 or more who are requesting interpretive programs especially for their group must make reservations at least two weeks in advance.

The park grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm Eastern Time, allowing access to both the historic prison site and Andersonville National Cemetery. The National Prisoner of War Museum, which also serves as the park visitor center, opens at 8:30 and also closes at 5:00 pm. The National Prisoner of War Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days and no visitor services are provided. Park grounds, including the National Cemetery, are open on these days.

ALSO SEE: THE TOP TEN MOST HAUNTED BATTLEFIELD LIST

Though the battles have long ago ended and the sound of cannons and muskets is but a distant memory, there are some souls who are still waiting for the call to “Retreat” – and for them, it may never come!

Make plans to visit a Haunted Battlefield today!

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