The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death inside a Civil War Prison Campby Catherine Gourley
"[If I] had the privleage of expressing my mind to our
hon[orable] rulers at Washington, I should gloery to describe this hell on Earth where it takes 7 of its occupiants to make a shadow." —Sergeant David Kennedy, Andersonville prisoner, July 9, 1864
Conditions at Andersonville were indeed deplorable. The soldiers drank from polluted water and ate meager rations—mainly bug-infested cornmeal and bacon, which was often consumed raw, as there was little firewood for cooking. While some prisoners managed to make tents or shanties, many had to survive in the open without blankets or adequate clothing. Disease was rampant.
The camp had other dangers as well. Guards could shoot prisoners for just reaching across the deadline—an internal border 15 feet from the stockade walls. Some prisoners turned against each other in hopes of earning extra rations. And for a time, a gang called the Raiders preyed on fellow prisoners.
Of the nearly 45,000 prisoners that came to Andersonville, more than 13,000 died. When the Civil War ended, many people felt outrage. Was the camp commander Captain Henry Wirz ultimately responsible for these horrors? Or was he unfairly executed as a scapegoat for the atrocities of the camp?
Using diaries, letters, official U.S. government war records, media of the time, and other primary source documents from both Confederate and Union soldiers, author Catherine Gourley pieces together the life and death stories of Andersonville, revealing that the horrors of war include far more than what happens on the battlefield.
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The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death inside a Civil War Prison Camp
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Reading Level: Grade 9
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About the Author
Catherine Gourley is an award-winning author and editor of books for young adults. She is the national director for Letters about Literature, a reading-writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In addition, she is the curriculum writer for The Story of Movies, an educational outreach program on film study and visual literacy in the middle school developed by The Film Foundation in Los Angeles.
A former editor of Read magazine, Gourley has written more than 20 books. Her recent five-book series—Images and Issues of Women in the Twentieth Century (Twenty-First Century Books)—was named to Booklist's Top 10 Series Nonfiction list, and individual titles received starred reviews from School Library Journal. The series also received accolades from the Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Feminist Books for Young Readers and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) / Children's Book Council (CBC) Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.