Andersonville Prison, built during the Civil War to hold Union POWs; is in Americus, Georgia. The prison was made of wooden tents and huts hastily erected inside a blockade on 27 acres of land. It housed about thirty-two thousand prisoners. It’s thought that about thirteen thousand soldiers died there from starvation, dehydration, dysentery caused by stagnant water, being shot by guards during escape attempts or violence between prisoners. Today, as the Andersonville National Historic Site, it honors all American POWs.
On February 27, 1864 this was called Camp Sumter/Andersonville Prison. The conditions were atrocious. Supplies were short and the facility was overcrowded. There were two violent gangs that prisoners had to contend with. The Raiders were a group of predatory Union soldiers who assaulting fellow prisoners and stole from them to survive. Soon, they robbed for affluence and egoism. The Regulators was created to deal with them. They captured Raiders and held trials. Six Raiders were hanged; others endured lesser punishments.
Andersonville’s Heinrich “Henry” Wirz
The captain was a Swiss immigrant and former doctor. He was commander of Camp Sumter and the prison from March 1864 until the prison was shut down over a year later. Wirz was captured by the Union within a month of the Confederacy's defeat and was tried for war crimes relating to the squalid conditions at Andersonville. He was hanged on November 10, 1865, the only person court martialed, convicted and executed for war crimes during the Civil War. His apparition has been sighted.
The Hauntings of Andersonville
- There have been reports of various paranormal phenomena at the former prison.
- Eerie noises including gunshots, marching, voices talking and moaning are heard.
- There's a stench that people smell in the general area of the camp. It reminded one Vietnam veteran of the odor of a military field hospital.
- Bill Blue and Currie McClellan visited the park. They went to the cemetery and looked at the graves of the executed Raiders. They spit on the grave of the leader and damned him to hell. Then they slept in their van. A little after midnight, Currie awoke to a putrid stench. Soon, the odor woke Bill. Then, they heard ghostly voices shouting for Willie, the leader’s name. The date was July 11, the anniversary of the Raiders’ executions.
- Father Whelan, a Catholic priest, was one of the chaplains who did what he could to comfort the inmates. Years later, historian Robert Berry, who wrote about Andersonville in his master’s thesis, was walking on the grounds during twilight. He saw a strange figure walking ahead of him. He smelled the putrid odor. The stranger vanished. Later, Berry heard a voice behind him say he was going to give him the last rites. When he turned, he saw Whelan’s specter.
- People have reported seeing dim figures in a gelid fog, accompanied by sounds of screaming.
Andersonville National Historic Site & National POW Museum
The land where Camp Sumter was is a park that has thousands of graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War. It’s also home to the National Prisoner of War Museum. The museum, opened in 1999, is dedicated to all Americans who have suffered or continue to suffer as POWs with displays telling their histories and experiences.