Tag Archives: South Georgia Landmarks
One of fourteen National Cemeteries administered by the National Park Service, Andersonville is still open for burials today. Few places will put into perspective the human cost of war more than the burial place of so many who paid the ultimate price in preserving our national interests and values.
I’ve visited here numerous times during my life and the impact is always the same. I’m awed by the beauty of the place yet saddened by the loss of so many.
The earliest burials at the site were trench graves of those who died at the adjacent prison at Camp Sumter, and these began in February 1864. In little over a year, over 13,000 men were interred here. The earliest graves are those visible when you first enter the cemetery.
After the war, the remains of many prisoners were confirmed and given proper markers.
Andersonville National Cemetery is still open for burials today, and the National Park Service tries to accommodate as many requests as possible. There are no waiting lists, so such a burial can only be arranged after a veteran’s death. Over 20,000 are interred here today.
Andersonville National Historic Landmark
Thousands of prisoners were literally dying of thirst when on 14 August 1864 a spring burst forth at this site within the prison stockade at Camp Sumter. Its appearance was providential and it was one of the treasured memories of many veterans who returned to the site in the years following the Civil War. Pilgrimage to the spring was a regular part of Memorial Day activities here by the 1880s.
The prisoner’s cry of thirst rang up to Heaven. God heard, and with his thunder cleft the earth and poured his sweetest waters gushing here. These words are memorialized on a tablet inside the well house marking the site. The construction of the pavilion was a collaboration between the Woman’s Relief Corps and the National Association of Union Ex-Prisoners of War.
The site is among the most popular stops at Andersonville. Just don’t drink the water. Signs indicate it’s contaminated today.
Andersonville National Historic Site
With its notorious reputation as one of the worst Confederate prison stockades, the site of Camp Sumter inevitably became hallowed ground to the survivors and families of those who died here, including Confederate guards. Between 1899 and 1916, a series of monuments were placed by various states at the stockade site and within the cemetery, and their dedications were huge events, with survivors and regular citizens making the long journey to Andersonville by train. The Georgia Monument (above) was placed on Memorial Day 1976 at the entrance to the cemetery.
State Monuments of the Cemetery Site
The Illinois Monument, a collaboration by sculptor Charles Mulligan and state architect Carbys Zimmerman, is one of the nicest of all the memorials in the cemetery.
Dedicated in 1912, it features a bronze sculpture of Columbia pointing to fallen heroes, flanked by Youth and Maiden.
Statues of anonymous Illinois veterans leaning on the words of Lincoln and saddened by the human loss of war, flank each wing of the monument.
The Iowa Monument, dedicated in 1906, features a weeping woman atop a red base. The front of the base features a relief of an Iowa infantryman and the words: Iowa honors the turf that wraps their clay. The Unknown. Their names are recorded in the archives of their country.
Though it was placed in 1911, the New York Monument wasn’t dedicated until 1914. It features bronze reliefs on the front and back of a tapered granite marker.
The back relief features a young and old soldier sitting inside the stockade with an angel hovering above them. It’s one of the most moving sculptures at the site.
The New Jersey Monument was among the first of the state monuments placed at Andersonville.
It features a soldier at parade rest, surveying the dead.
The Connecticut Monument commission chose a design by Boston sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt. It was dedicated in 1907.
It depicts a typical young Connecticut soldier.
This is one of three monuments of the same design that Minnesota dedicated in 1916, the other two being located at the National Cemeteries in Little Rock and Memphis.
It depicts a young Union soldier in a winter coat.
The impressive Pennsylvania Monument features a mournful soldier atop an arch.
It was installed by Miller & Clark Granite and Monumental Works of Americus and dedicated in 1901.
The Maine Monument was erected in 1903. It was dedicated not only in memory of those who died here but to all who served. It was designed and cut by C. E. Tayntor & Company of Hollowell, Maine.
The Indiana Monument was dedicated in 1908.
State Monuments of the Prison Site
The Massachusetts Monument was dedicated in 1901, honoring the state’s 767 known dead at the site.
A favorite of many visitors, the Michigan Monument features a life-size weeping maiden.
It was created by the Lloyd Brothers Monument Company of Toledo, Ohio, and dedicated in 1904. Among those present at the dedication were ten carloads of former veterans from Fitzgerald, Georgia, the Union soldiers colony about an hour east of Andersonville.
At 40 feet, the Ohio Monument is the tallest at Andersonville. Dedicated in 1901, it is the second oldest monument in the park.
Like many of the others in the park, it features the motto “Death Before Dishonor”.
The Wisconsin Monument, accomplished in Georgia granite and topped by a bronze eagle, was dedicated in 1907. This view is from the rear of the monument.
The Rhode Island Monument was dedicated in 1903. As it’s the smallest state, its monument is also the smallest state monument at Andersonville. The 74 Rhode Island soldiers who are buried in the cemetery are all named on the monument. Among the is Charles F. Curtis, 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, who was one of the leaders of the despised Andersonville Raiders. These men were hanged by the other prisoners for terrorizing, stealing from, and even murdering some of their fellow captives.
The so-called 8-State Monument was placed by the Woman’s Relief Corps (auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic) in 1934 to memorialize the states that didn’t have a monument. It was dedicated in 1936. States listed are: Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia.
Other Monuments at Andersonville
Lizabeth Ann Turner was a prominent member of the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) who were instrumental in securing and beautifying the grounds at Andersonville. She had been a volunteer nurse in Boston during the Civil War and in 1895 became the National President of the WRC. Mrs. Turner died while visiting the prison site on 27 April 1907 and this memorial was dedicated to honor her in 1908.
Clara Barton was a leader in the effort to identify the dead at Andersonville and to establish the site as a National Cemetery. This monument, commissioned by the WRC, was dedicated on Memorial Day 1915.
On Memorial Day 1929, this monument commissioned by the Woman’s Relief Corps and authorized by President Hoover, was dedicated. It features two bronze tablets containing the words of the Gettysburg Address and General Logan’s Memorial Day Order of 1868.
There is also a monumental sundial, which isn’t pictured, and a wellhouse at Providence Spring, which will be covered elsewhere.
On 3 May 1989, the anniversary of the liberation of the German prison camp Stalag XVII-B, this monument was dedicated to honor all prisoners of German camps throughout the European theater of World War II. It is the last monument dedicated at Andersonville and is located within the cemetery, unlike the preceding monuments which are located at the prison site.
Southern State Monuments of the Cemetery Site
The Tennessee Monument is unusual in that it honors Southern natives who died at Camp Sumter in service to the Union. It was funded by contributions of Tennessee members of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was dedicated in 1915, within the prison site.
The Georgia Monument, dedicated on Memorial Day 1976, was the last state monument placed at Andersonville. Governor Jimmy Carter, who had worked to have Andersonville included in the National Park System, was instrumental in the monument being placed. It was created by Athens sculptor William J. Thompson. It commemorates lost prisoners of all American wars.
Andersonville National Historic Site
The picturesque tourist village of Andersonville is essentially a living museum, with over 75,000 visitors annually making the short drive from the park entrance across Georgia Highway 49 to further explore the story of the area. The locals are very friendly and welcoming, with antique shops, a cafe, and one of the best Civil War museums (despite its size; middle building pictured below) to be found in Georgia. Gerald Lamby’s Drummer Boy Civil War Museum has been praised by students and scholars of the war from far and wide. The village post office (pictured above) is still open, and one of just a handful in Georgia not located in modern facilities. It’s a throwback to a time when most post offices were located in general stores or similar frame structures.
Prior to the establishment of Camp Sumter, the surrounding area was focused on agriculture. Originally known as Anderson (for John Anderson, a director of the South Western Railroad), the village name was changed to Andersonville when a post office was established in 1855.
It became a supply center and grew during the war, but at the end of hostilities reverted to farming. In 1973 longtime mayor Lewis Easterlin led the effort to create and promote the tiny town as a Civil War village. Most of the prominent structures seen today were relocated here, saving them for posterity when they would have otherwise been lost.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of the village is the Henry Wirz Monument. Controversial from inception, the simple obelisk has drawn ire, and vandalism, over the years. Even its location at Andersonville was questioned throughout the state before its placement. Captain Heinrich Hartmann “Henry” Wirz was born in Zurich Switzerland in 1822 and served as the commanding officer at Camp Sumter. In 14 months, over 13,000 Union soldiers perished at the prison camp, which was particularly despised by the Union. Wirz was tried as a war criminal and hanged in Washington, D. C., on 10 November 1865. In response to the 16 Union monuments erected in the nearby National Cemetery between 1899 and 1916, the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned a memorial to Wirz as a countermeasure. During this era, the UDC was at the forefront of promoting what is known today as Lost Cause mythology. Language on the monument’s base confirms this: Discharging his duty with such humanity as the harsh circumstances of the times, and the policy of the foe permitted Capt. Wirz became at last the victim of a misdirected popular clamor. He was arrested in the time of peace, while under the protection of parole, tried by a military commission of a service to which he did not belong, and condemned to ignominious death on charges of excessive cruelty to Federal prisoners. He indignantly spurned a pardon proffered on condition that he would incriminate President Davis and thus exonerate himself from charges of which both were innocent. Also present are these words of General Grant from 18 August 1864: It is hard on our men held in southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners would insure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here. The monument was dedicated by the Daughters on 12 May 1909. It has been referred to as the only U. S. monument to a war criminal.
The Atlanta Birmingham & Atlantic Railroad depot was relocated from Mauk, a settlement about 38 miles northwest of Andersonville in Taylor County.
This is one of several antique stores in the village which also sell Civil War-related memorabilia and folk art.
A town hall is painted blue and grey, keeping with the Civil War theme. I’m not sure its original use or location, but feel it was moved here like many of the other historical buildings.
There’s also a village hall, which was built in 1843 on nearby Lightwood Creek and moved to Andersonville in 1890. Wings were added at some point and it served for many years as Andersonville Baptist Church.
Beside the village hall is this gazebo, which I think was the bandstand from nearby Miona Springs.
Just beyond the Village Hall is the inspiring St. James Pennington Church, moved from the nearby hamlet of Pennington.