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Prison Life at Andersonville

From: Civil War History
Volume 8, Number 2, June 1962
pp. 121-135 | 10.1353/cwh.1962.0062

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Prison Life at Andersonville
Ovid Futch

Dr. Futch received his Ph.D. degree from Emory University in 1959, taught two years at Morehouse College, and is now on the history staff at the University of South Florida. His doctoral dissertation, from which this article was gleaned, was a study of Andersonville Prison, based largely on soldiers' letters and diaries.


1. For a description of the Andersonville stockade and of conditions prevailing there, see Ovid Futch, "Andersonville Raiders," Civil War History, II (1956), 47-48.

2. Ransom A. Chadwick, "A Diary Kept in Andersonville Prison as a Member of the 85th New York Regiment," manuscript, Minnesota Historical Society Library, entries of June 27, July 2, 12, 1864 (hereafter cited as Chadwick, "Diary"); E. Merton Coulter (ed.), "From Spotsylvania Courthouse to Andersonville: A Diary of Darius Starr," Georgia Historical Quarterly. XLI (1957), 10 (hereafter cited as "Starr Diary"); Eugene Forbes, Diary of a Soldier and Prisoner of War in the Rebel Prisons (Trenton, 1865), pp. 11, 17, 27. Hereafter cited as Forbes, Diary of a Soldier.

3. John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary . . . (Auburn, N.Y., 1881), pp. 41-42, 47, 54.

4. David Kennedy, "Diary of David Kennedy, Kept by Him While a Prisoner at Andersonville," manuscript Minnesota Historical Society Library, entry for May 11, 1864 (hereafter cited as Kennedy, "Diary"); Donald F. Danker (ed.), "Imprisoned at Andersonville: The Diary of Albert Harry Shatzel, May 5—September, 1864," Nebraska History, XXXVIII (1957), 115-16, 120 (hereafter cited as "Shatzel Diary"); J. M. Burdick, "Journal of Sgt. J. M. Burdick," manuscript in possession of Richard J. Harris, Swainsboro, Ga., entries for July 12, 18, Aug. 4, 1864. Hereafter cited as "Burdick Journal."

5. For example, see Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 43; John McElroy, Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons (Toledo, 1879), pp. 342-44; Forbes, Diary of a Soldier, pp. 18, 22.

6. Chadwick, "Diary," entries for May 17-Sept. 5, 1864, passim; Kennedy, "Diary," entries for May 4-Sept. 6, 1864, passim; Burdick, "Journal," entries for July 31, Aug. 20, 31, Sept. 2, 1864; McElroy, Andersonville, pp. 154-55. See also C. M. Destler (ed.), "A Vermonter in Andersonville: Diary of Charles Ross, 1864," Vermont History, XXV (1957), 239. Hereafter cited as "Ross Diary."

7. For example, see Chadwick, "Diary," entries for May 27, June 22, July 10, Sept. 2, 1864; "Shatzel Diary," p. 93.

8. "Andersonville, Ga. Rolls of Deceased Federal Prisoners, 1864-65," Box 20, Record Group 249, National Archives; Columbus (Ga.) Daily Enquirer, May 12, 1864. See also U.S. War Dept. (comp.), War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901), Ser. II, VII, 438, 517, 708. Hereafter cited as OR, with all references being to Ser. II.

9. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 47; Forbes, Diary of a Soldier, pp. 12-13; McElroy, Andersonville, pp. 175-78; Robert H. Kellogg, Life and Death in Rebel Prisons (Hartford, 1865), pp. 118-21.

10. "Shatzel Diary," pp. 112-13.

11. Forbes, Diary of a Soldier, p. 16; Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 69.

12. Ibid., pp. 50, 52.

13. Forbes, Diary of a Soldier, pp. 20, 22, 32.

14. Lawrence E. Hinkle, Jr., and Harold G. Wolff, "Communist Interrogation and Indoctrination of 'Enemies of the State,'" A.M.A. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, LXXVI (1956), 130, 170-71; Bruno Bettelheim, "Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, XXXVIII (1943), 438-39, 447.

15. "Shatzel Diary," pp. 101, 103.

16. Burdick, "Journal," entry for July 16, 1864; Forbes, Diary of a Soldier, p. 31.

17. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, pp. 56-57. See also K. C. Bullard, Over the Dead-Line, Or Who Killed "Poll Parrot" (New York, 1909), pp. 16-17, 31-32. Eighteen feet inside the stockade wall, the "deadline" was a row of posts set in the earth and connected by boards across their tops. Almost every prison, North and South, had its deadline.

18. Chadwick, "Diary," entry for May 25, 1864; Kennedy, "Diary," entry for May 27, 1864; Ransom, Andersonville Diary, pp. 65-66; McElroy, Andersonville, pp. 193-94; Kellogg, Life and Death in Rebel Prisons, pp...