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Andersonville (1864-1865) - A U.S. Civil War Confederate prison for captured Union soldiers that was established in February 1864 at Andersonville, Macon & Sumter Counties, Georgia. Named for the location. Abandoned as a prison in 1865 at the end of the war. Also known as Camp Sumter.

Andersonville Prison Drawing by O'Dea

History of Andersonville Prison

A U.S. Civil War Confederate military prison established in 1864 by Andersonville in Macon & Sumter Counties, Georgia. The site was selected in 1863 and construction continued until February 1864 when Union prisoners of war began to occupy what was officially known as Camp Sumter. Andersonville was commanded by Captain Henry Wirz, a Swiss physician, as superintendent of the prison.

In November 1863 Confederate soldiers with a labor force of Black slaves began clearing Georgia pines that covered the area east of the Andersonville railroad depot. The pines were cut into 20-foot logs, set upright five feet into the ground forming a double stockade pattern around the prison stockade area. The inner stockade was about 1,540 feet by 750 feet, and the outer stockade enclosed 15 acres, later expanded to 26 acres. Sentry boxes were spaced along the top of the inner stockade. The stockade had two entrances on the west side, the North Gate and the South Gate.

Security measures at the camp included the double stockade and a dead line inside the inner stockade. The dead line was a light fence erected 19 feet inside the inner stockade as a marker line and any prisoner crossing or touching the line would be shot dead by the sentries on the stockade wall. There were small fortifications (Gun Batteries) outside the four corners of the camp in the event of a prisoner uprising and other batteries positioned in the event of a Union raid on the camp. The command section of Andersonville was protected from both raiding parties and inmate uprisings by a fortification known as the Star Fort

The first Union prisoners arrived from Belle Island, Virginia, on 15 Feb 1864. From that time until April 1865, nearly 50,000 men were confined within the stockade. The camp was initially designed to house some 6,000 prisoners but it quickly exceeded that number and by 1 Jul 1864 the camp had been expanded to 26 acres with a capacity of about 10,000 prisoners. The largest number of prisoners at one time was over 33,000 men. While there was a small stream flowing through the camp it quickly proved inadequate and the sanitary condition deteriorated to the point where disease was rampant and any injury was likely to become infected. More than 900 prisoners died every month during the 13 months' of the existence of the prison. The number of daily deaths rose to about 100 during the worst of it.

Many more prisoners would have been lost but for the sudden appearance of a spring of pure water that began to flow from a hillside during a rainstorm on 14 Aug 1864. Named Providence Spring there is a small building now that commemorates its appearance.

Andersonville Prison ceased to exist in April 1865, and the grounds were appropriated by the United States. Captain Henry Wirz, the Camp Commander, was tried and executed after the war for war crimes at the Camp.

Current Status

Now the site of Andersonville National Historic Site, Andersonville National Cemetery and the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Location: Andersonville, in Macon & Sumter Counties, Georgia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 32.194722 Long: -84.128889

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 380'

GPS Locations:

See Also:



Fortification ID:

  • GA0010 - Andersonville
  • GA0397 - Camp Sumter
  • GA0389 - Star Fort (5)

Visited: 2 Feb 2018

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