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What is Andersonville?

The Andersonville area contained the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp in the Civil War.
A notorious POW camp was located in Andersonville, Georgia during the U.S. Civil War.
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  • Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2014
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Andersonville is a town in the state of Georgia in the American south. It is a small town with a population of about 300 and it lies about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Macon, Georgia. It is Andersonville's ties to the Civil War that will keep this town in history books forever.

The largest Confederate prisoner-of-war camp was located on a plot of land near Andersonville. Prisoners began to arrive in February of 1864. By May, the number of prisoners swelled to 12,000 before adequate shelter and supplies were available. The camp was expanded by about 60% to 10.7 hectares (26.5 acres) but this was only a temporary remedy. By August the number of prisoners exceeded 32,000 and the only available shelter was makeshift tents or pits dug into the ground.

The Confederacy was strapped for funds during the Civil War, and this was evident by the frequent lack of food and supplies at Andersonville. The water supply became polluted due to the intense congestion. During the summer of 1864, about 1/3 of the prisoners died due to hunger, disease and exposure to the elements. At the beginning of September, Atlanta (217 km or 135 miles from Andersonville) was occupied by Union Soldiers, and many of prisoners were moved from Andersonville to other camps; they were later returned to Andersonville.

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By the end of the Civil War, almost 50,000 prisoners were held at Andersonville, and about 1/4 of these died. After the war, the superintendent of the prison, Henry Wirz was tried and hanged; this represented the only war crimes execution of the civil war. The burial ground at Andersonville has been made into a national cemetery, and contains over 13,000 graves. In 1998, Andersonville became home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

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