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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  September 19, 2015 6:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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this program is about three hours. >> good afternoon. you are watching american history tv on c-span, and you are looking at the andersonville prison. during theperation final year of the american civil war. you live to the andersonville national historic site and cemetery in andersonville, georgia for the next three hours, taking your phone calls and the commemorative funeral for the 13,000 prisoners of war who died here in 1864 and 1865. joining us from the andersonville national cemetery, adjacent to the cemetery location is eric leonard, the chief of the historical site. you will be with us next hour to -- he will be with us for the next hour to talk about the history of andersonville and why does consider the most notorious site of the civil war. we are joining our phone line so you can join the conversation. if you want to join the
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conversation202-748-8900. that is for eastern and central time zones. if in the pacific or mountain 8-8901.nes, 202-74 you can also post questions and comments on our facebook page. mr. leonard, thank you for joining us this afternoon. mr. leonard: it is my pleasure to be here. host: let's start with where is andersonville? for someone who is not aware of andersonville's significance, where does it fall? mr. leonard: it is important to start with this idea that military prisoners and prisoners of war are often left out of the mainstream telling of the war. quite frankly, there are no winners in this story. this is not a battlefield. it is something entirely different. it is a valor and honor.
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those concepts take a different form here. in many respects, in a standard telling of war, there is a knowledge meant -- there is an acknowledgment -- yes, they are prisoners of war, and then you move right back to the battles. often, and addressing the story, there is an acknowledgment of it, and then no detail, and you move on. andersonville has a name brand recognition. the public often doesn't know any of the details beyond the name and that something unusual took place there. host: let's start with the basics. when was it built? what was its purpose? mr. leonard: in the fall of 1863 , as the exchange system of the previous two years falls apart, due to the presence of black soldiers in the field, and the question over how to treat black
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soldiers, the confederacy is faced with a problem. they have been consolidating their prisoners, holding them primarily in the richmond area. thousands, 10,000 prisoners in richmond has a drag effect on the community. resources are going in to maintain the prisoners. if you are in the confederate army, or the government, you are looking at those resources, they should go to the army to fight the war. if you are civilian, you are thinking to yourself, my family is hungry, why am i having trouble getting food? and then, prisoners in richmond -- richmond is one of the primary military targets of the war, there is a lot of fighting around the city -- having union soldiers in richmond makes that target even more attractive. the solution was to move the prisoners away. in november of 1863, there is
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this idea that southwest georgia is a very safe, insulated place, far from the fighting. it is serviced by the railroad system of the south, and this is an agricultural breadbasket, food should be readily available. officers come here and locate a site. in that expedition to find a site, some of the concepts that we consider -- this idea of not the orders to -- locate a prison, specify an area that is essentially 100 miles north and south. between fort valley, georgia and albany, georgia. those are fairly big immunities. you will notice the prison did not typically end up near them.
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they do not necessarily want the prison close to them. there are 20 people living at the andersonville station, the train start -- train stop here. those people do not have political power. there are willing landowners who are absolutely ready -- two of them make the deal. they are getting -- on paper, they are supposed to receive a rent of about $50 per year from the confederate government for leasing their property to build this massive facility. it is envisioned as a 1600 acre acre square a 16 designed for a capacity of some 6000-8000 prisoners, essentially the number of those being held in richmond. private corporal sergeants. enlisted prisoners. the intention is to move them from richmond here. construction begins in early 1864, and by the end of
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february, prisoners are en route and arriving here. and the prison comes into being. host: 6000-10,000 prisoners was the original intent, how many prisoners eventually ended up there? mr. leonard: at its height, the one-time capacity in august 1864, there are over 32,000 u.s. soldiers being held inside this prison. by that time, the original stockade had a 10 acre expansion. that is built in the month of june and opened on the first of july. host: mr. leonard, also, if you have that many people in such a confined space, what is living like there, and what happens to the prisoners threre?
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-- there? mr. leonard: this is the forested part of south georgia. the original 1600 stockade was built of posts that were square d and fit tightly together. the interior -- the first prisoners that arrive described as a place where construction debris is clearly everywhere. there are stumps, branches. it is a very disturbed place. there is no shelter. prisoners improvise shelter out of the debris that is present. one of the routines of the prison operation is a wood gathering detail daily. when you are gathering that d, you are looking for two thing purposes. obviously, all this fire wood for cooking, but larger pieces
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of wood and castoffs of debris is shelter making material. host: don't forget, if you're watching a home and want to contribute to the conversation, again, now is the time to do so. if you want to call, 202-748-8900 for those of you in the eastern and central time zones. if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones, 202-748-8901. if you want to tweet at us, you can do so. do so at #cspanhistory. you can also post on our facebook page. spanhistory./c-s mr. leonard, let's pretend i am a prisoner coming to the prison, what is my day like? mr. leonard: in the 14 months of the present operation, the answer to a question changes to
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-- changes drastically. for those initial prisoners who arrived in late february 1864, it seems strange when you know what comes later. they see andersonville as an improvement. it is better than belisle at richmond. it is an improvement. the weather in south georgia seems nicer. they have a change of venue. they are kind of excited about the opportunity. as prisoners arrive, every prisoner that arrives here and leaves here does so on the train. the train is integral to the story. when you are offloaded at the train station, the train itself, the train tracks, and the train station are almost half a mile to the west of the main prison compound. some prisoners referred to it as -- there is a march that some prisoners referred to as 800 pages to help.
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-- hell. outside of the gates, closer to the main compound, you are counted out, assigned into detachments and squads. roll call is a critical part of the daily experience of the prison. roll call is how the confederate command determines how many prisoners they have, and what their disposition is. they are counting the number of prisoners in the hospital, inside the stockades. they're making daily lists of the number of prisoners that arrive, who transfer out, and who die. they separate that out from the number of people who die in the hospital and inside the compound itself. host: as far as being with the general population, give us a sense of health conditions -- were they clean facilities?
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give us a sense of what living was like in that front. mr. leonard: one way to start with that is the hospital. in 14 months, there's always a hospital. it is in three different locations, and there is a fourth adjunct to that. just for the prisoners, there is a separate hospital facility close to the train tracks. that was a compound with two frame stone structures. where the prison hospital starts is inside the compound itself. there is a sequestering area with tents and separate toilet facilities. by may, the confederate command has realized is not a good idea, it is not working very well. they moved to the prison hospital downstream of the just to the southeast.
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that is a compound that is fenced and has temps as hospital wards. livingerception is that out of the prison compound and next to the stream will be a healthier space. it is important to note that the stream they move it next to is the stream that flows through the prison compound itself. again, as originally built, the branch square, the enters the middle and west side of the compound, flows through the wall, and the creek is the single most important feature of the present. it is the plumbing. the intention is prisoners will collect clean drinking water at that rest -- west side of the
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prison, in the middle section of the prison, perhaps they will bathe and clean themselves in the creek. and on the downstream side, the creek is channeled into a structure that is a toilet. the intention of all of this is the flow of the creek will flush the toilet. the success of that is designed on an understanding in the 1860's of germs and bacteria, which is to say, no understanding of that at all. what they don't know when they do this is they have created the perfect breeding ground for dysentery. host: we can engage in this later, only because we have calls lined up for you. let's start with paul in murfreesboro, tennessee. you are on with eric leonard, go ahead. caller: my question is why does andersonville have such a bad reputation nationally in the
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overview of the civil war prisoners with regards to our myra, which had a very severe death rate. 5% lesse just 4% or than andersonville, yet there was 20 of supplies available. there were railroads to surprise -- supply the prisoners, yet andersonville gets such a bad reputation. mr. leonard: that is easy to answer. andersonville is the deadliest place on american soil. 1400 soldiers die here in 14 months. that is a death toll that cannot be compared to any other place. the percentages have been used to create a sense of false equivalency. perish in a year at l myra -- elmyra.
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there is a complex reason of why that occurs. in one single month at andersonville, 3000 people died. the scale of andersonville was stunning. survivors spend the rest of their lives trying to come to terms to what happens to them , what happens to their friends. families who lose their loved ones here struggle with, what was it for? while 13,000 men die here, nearly 30,000 live. that is the bigger number. the survivors of this experience comes to an end really struggle with what does it mean. it is not a traditional battlefield, so there is not this sense of valor.
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in fact, prisoners of war, until the late 20th century, were considered to be cowards, failures as soldiers. that almost survivors guilt, is something that union soldiers struggle with. host: our next caller, connie from north carolina. caller: mr. leonard, i have a question. i recently watched the ken burns documentary on the civil war. they stated in the document that the superintendent of the warden of andersonville was convicted of war crimes and hanged. i would like to know what his name was. can you verify that for me, please? mr. leonard: that is absolutely true. this is captain henry wurtz. he is assigned here in march of 1864.
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the command structure of the prison is in many respects dysfunctional by design. when you explain it and explore it, it takes no sense -- there is a kernel that commanded -- colonel that commanded the entire military complex there. this is a really big place. thousands of confederate soldiers either moving through you have a colonel in charge of or that. under him, you have a serious of departments. they are essentially all overseen by captains. for supplies, a commissary for food. there is a chief surgeon who oversees the hospital operation. finally, you have a captain whose job is to oversee the operation of the prison. separate from that, the guard
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forces that are here are georgia reserves, a form of militia. these are not combat-ready troops. these are teenagers, old men who have little to no training or discipline. signed -- a signed duty as guards on the stockade, the captain has authority over them. when they are off duty, the authority falls to the commanders. wurtz is often absolutely frustrated. the guards have no discipline, they don't follow orders. he complains about them constantly. his hands are tied with that command structure. he is dependent on the quartermaster for supplies, the commissary for food. that roll call that they are doing every day, once they have they forward the number of prisoners to the commissary, and the commissary officer then has to provide food into the prison.
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food was delivered once a day. henry wurtz is still on station , still here in the first week of may of 1865, as the prison is essentially blown to the wind. the colonel gives the last command of the complex. he fled to florida the week before. henry is still here, and that leads to his arrest on may 7, 1865. heat is transferred to chattanooga, and finally to washington, d.c. after his arrest and the transport period, his escort, at one point in chattanooga, turned him over to the federal guardhouse in chattanooga. that was a mistake. when the captain, who is escorting him, comes back, he has been beaten. he has been recognized by the men who were once in his care. during his transport to
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washington dc, they end up shaving the beard off of his face so he is less recognizable. 30,000 men live through this, and they recognize him immediately. they are the ones, in trying to figure out who to blame, there is a larger command structure, but prisoners do not see that. they seek henry wurtz every day. they tell stories of the dutch captain, one of his many nicknames. he is tried in a military tribunal in washington, d.c. from august of 1865 to the end of october. he is put to death november 10, 1865. he is often described as the only confederate soldier to be put to death or tried for war crimes. that is not true. he is absolutely, positively the most famous. by the time of his execution, he
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the third confederate captain to be tried and executed for war crimes in 1855. host: mr. leonard, we are asking people to give comments and questions on facebook as well. claire larson writes and on facebook saying there was a movie called andersonville and asked if it was an accurate portrayal of the legal proceedings that followed the war, and if it accurately convey the true nature of the internment. mr. leonard: there are two films about us. one, tnt did in 1996 miniseries about the present. it focuses on prison life and dramatizes a fairly early infamous moment in the prison 's operation. the camp raiding, prosecution, and later execution of a group of prisoners known as the "raiders." separately, there was a stage play in 1970 that was turned film starring william
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shatner called the "andersonville trial." that was the dramatization of the trial. the play and then the film about the trial are inspired and drawn out of the trial transcript that was published by the u.s. government in 1869. the tnt miniseries was a three-hour miniseries that explores the prisoner experienced by drilling down to something -- it is a 14 month story, and they drill down to something that is over and done one month before the worst moments of the prison's history. it is a very dramatic story. the story of the raiders ultimately has a very nice, neat narrative arc. a beginning, a middle -- they are tried and captured -- and
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finally, their execution. wayconfederate army all the to richmond has okayed that. it has a nice beginning, middle, and end, but the truth is the prisoner of war experience, no one wants to watch it. you are dirty, hungry, you have to go to the bathroom -- there is a lot of sitting around and waiting on a fate that is very uncertain. the tnt film, the background detail is stunning. when i watch that, that is what i key into. it is a very accurate portrayal. in the background of how people were trying to live here, struggling to survive. host: we are learning about the andersonville prison and its war in the civil -- role of the civil war. our guest is eric leonard.
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you can call in and ask him questions. the numbers will be on the screen. you can tweet us and facebook us too. lee in winchester, virginia, thank you for holding on. caller: hi, mr. leonard. i had a great great uncle who was brought to andersonville. i'm wondering, it's an open park, i believe. the dates and times you are able to go to andersonville, and, are you able to get records and copies of your ancestors being there and the burial sites? mr. leonard: as a u.s. national park site, andersonville is open to the public daily. it is closed only three days a year, and that is thanksgiving, christmas day, and new year's day. the grounds are open from 8:00-5:00. the museum's hours are 9:00 to 4:30 daily. inside the national prisoner of war museum, the park maintains a
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database of people buried in the national cemetery, and that includes the andersonville dead. there is a listing of the andersonville prisoners, the dead and the survivors. there also partial listings of prisoners of war. -- prisoners of war of other euros and conflicts. eras and conflicts. we do not have original records here. the original records are at the national archives. the most important historic document for documenting union prisoners of war is their service record. again, the national archives has that. some of the records are becoming digitized and easier to access than writing or e-mailing or going to the national archives. for, especially the survivors, but even the dead, in that service record was a slip that was done well after the war. it is a memorandum.
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a prisoner of war record. it identifies the capture date of the individual. oftentimes, there are the circumstances of the capture. it lists the various places where they were held prisoner. one of the important things to remember is with most union prisoners held andersonville, this is one of at least three, sometimes as many as six prison facilities that they are held at in the space of one year. it is the biggest and most famous, for a lot of reasons, but it is not the only one. those national archive records are the first source. during a visit, you can use the database to look up a person. often, we do have copies of the service record or other items. this was an enlisted prison. what is extraordinary about these prisoners, they're not famous people.
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they are the workingmen of the u.s. army, the marine corps, the navy. they are privates, corporals, sergeants. .hey are ordinary men what is extraordinary about them is how ordinary their lives are after this thing that they experienced. this san jose, california, is david. go ahead. caller: good morning. i was told that there was a medical doctor who would examine the prisoners before they were admitted to the camp, and that supposedly he was a freemason. were any, if there free maces among the union , and they mader that known, he would extract them from the line and they were no longer a part of the population at andersonville. is that a plausible story, or is there any basis of fact to that? mr. leonard: the surgeons change d over time. however, it is clearly
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documented -- this actually makes the story better -- georgia officers who are freemasons, they recognized the ring and the signs. these men, under normal circumstances, their job does not bring them to the stockade, they are not supposed to go in it -- they walk in with care packages and names. there is a masons' large -- lodge improvised in the stockade, against the south wall of the prison. many prisoners' diary accounts -- prisoners noticed this, and after the war, "i want to be a mason." that fraternity is one of a very small number of routes that mercy is being allowed in the prison. that is very important. thank you for bringing that up. host: that was dated in san
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jose, california. -- david in san jose. mr. leonard, as far as safety within the prison walls, how did that work as far as having so may people combined in one space? mr. leonard: there is little to no internal policing and forced by the federal guards. --t the guards do is meant mandy two interest -- man the two entrance gates. there are 52 towers around the stockade wall. what the guards do is keep you in. so, internal policing is left to the prisoners. if that sounds like a recipe for trouble, it is. cap robbery is an almost constant part of the prison experience.
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rading -- it is a verb for cap robbery. it is not what we think of today, someone stealing from someone else. social networking in the 19th-century sense, not facebook and twitter, as a prisoner, the more friends you have, the closer you stay together, the that no oneit is will steal your stuff, and you are >> let's go to charles in glenallen virginia. >> the north and the south had prisoner exchange agreements. the north had unlimited supplies. and the south had a limited supply of future troops. and what -- it was a war maneuver strategy brought to
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lincoln by his generals. the south doesn't have the troops to replenish these. andersonville wouldn't have existed, neither would have chicago, or others, if not for lincoln's war strategy. chicago,r lincoln's war strategy. it is not lincoln's war strategy. the system ties into the evolving nature of the war. following the emancipation ,roclamation, the united states the union army start enlisting african-american men not simply by the thousands, but by the tens of thousands. and this creates a question. it is a cultural change. how do you treat these men? and in the spring of 1860 -- around the same time of 1863, the army, the lincoln administration are struggling with the changing nature of war and they bring in a legal scholar by the name of francis
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to develop, for the first time, a written law or code of war. they are taking evolving military tradition from 200 years in europe and in the united states, the revolutionary war, and a are codifying it. and to be code is critically important and often overlooked in american history and in world history. copieseva convention entire sections of the code. so the code survives in spirit today and these humanitarian protections for noncombatants, prisoners of war. buried within the code is a very bold statement that in a sense is the first equal rights policy of the united states government. soldiers, regardless of their color, are to be treated equally.
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and it was a line in the sand. provocative and, boy, it did. they all react -- adept reactionary policies to this. be treateds are to as slaves and repatriated to slavery. white officers of black regiments are to be put to the for inciting insurrection. -- put to death for inciting insurrection. for months, that policy is just talk. following the, you know, in charleston, following the assault that is featured in the film "glory," 35 men of the 54th massachusetts are captured. there are not killed, they are captured. and what to do with them is the tipping point. the governor of the state of south carolina wants to try them for war crimes and put them to death.
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the confederate army is desperate to that that not happen. the confederate government is desperate that that not happen. they became not to do that, so these 35 men and up in the charleston city jail, which still -- 35 men end up in the charleston city jail, which still exists today. throughout 1864, as the prison crisis -- the prisoner crisis gets worse and worse, at every time these two sides negotiate, the united states representatives are very clear, all you have to do is treat them equally. that is it. and the exchanges die on that one issue alone. until really be very end of the war. host: mr. leonard, how was segregation treated there in andersonville jackson --
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andersonville? mr leonard: at the battle one comes intoe the -- being, the regiments fight a rearguard action that is instrumental in allowing the union troops -- the bulk of the union troops -- to retreat from the field. approximately 50 prisoners are taken. they're not initially brought to andersonville. they are moved there at some point in the spring. there cap separately. they live within the stockade as a group. later on, they have a major , his them, a white officer rank is disrespected by the confederacy and he is thrown in and enlisted in prison because he is an officer of black
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soldiers. that major is denied medical care. camps with the black soldiers. [indiscernible]- -- appointment at the prison, black soldiers are used as a slave labor. every morning, they lineup and they count out and then they walk out. think about this for a minute. if you are a white soldier from prison is like, an amphitheater. everybody can see that happening. those black soldiers are being treated different venue. you are stuck in here. what you want is not to be stuck in here. and they walk out. now, they are being put to hard labor.
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around the prison compound and they are subject to punishments straight out of the plantation. if they refuse to give lip, they are beaten, they are ripped. -- whipped. and they are whipped in front of the other black soldiers. an extension of that is if you are a white soldier observing the prison operation, what you know of slavery before you came to the south to fight the war is what you read in novels. ,s a prisoner in andersonville if you attempt to escape, they hunt you down with dogs. that is straight out of the novel. and a number of prisoners come to realize, wait, we are -- we are not slaves, but we are being treated like slaves. so you build in empathy with their -- there. the black soldiers are being
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used as slaves throughout the operation. york, thankrom new you for waiting, go ahead. caller: there were reports of many, several soldiers, testifying on his behalf that he did everything in his power to sustain them. and they were not allowed to testify during his trial. there were other soldiers who were never in andersonville that were allowed to testify against him. lesley gordon may speak to this later today. the sergeant of the 16th connecticut infantry, his entire regiment is held here. when he is released in exchanged -- and exchange -- in exchange from south carolina, he starts -- he turns his journal, has diarrhea, into a book.
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it is published in march of 1865 before -- while he is still working here all the prison is a functional place. because of that book, he is called the testify. kellogg testifies as both the prosecution and the defense. both sides speak to this one individual soldier and say, we trust everything he says. he is very blunt about this guy being -- [indiscernible] he has a very specific story about henry werth's -- henry werth. story almost humorous where he asks permission to use his pocket knife to big up a root for extra food. permission, but before he is done, he is told to leave. when he approaches the prison's gates, he realizes he has left his pocket and i behind.
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he goes to the first officer he sees and says, excuse me, i need to get my pocket knife. he walks him back, they find the knife, and t, you know, returns him to the prison. just imagine that image. a prisoner walking back to the south gate entrance with henry werth on horseback. everybody notices this. the place kind of stops for a moment. rth in the moment, captain we cracks a joke. he says, they think you are up to something. -- when weimony , 150 about the trial witnesses testified. bluntest ofthe them, the most accusatory of them, tend to be the 50 or so
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confederate officers, confederate guides, confederate officials, and confederate civilians. there are the ones that speak very plainly to break down within the chains of command and assign responsibility. host: here is evan from indian wells, california. caller: [indiscernible] host: evan, go ahead. caller: [indiscernible] onto ok, let's move joanna. michigan. caller: hi. i have a question. i'm going to tell you my story. i had a great great uncle who served in the union. and he was under george custer. captive inwas taken 1864. he went to richmond, and then he
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was transferred down to andersonville. and he was down there from july until november, when he was paroled, pardoned, up to maryland because of his dysentery and malnutrition, where he died. and that is where he is laid to rest. interesting.s i did get my uncles civil war records -- uncle's civil war records, and they are phenomenal. they are very detailed, they are excellent. but my question is, while my uncle was down at andersonville, during that summer, some of the union soldiers were stealing from each other -- food, what not, just survival type things -- and a book i have on andersonville lists my uncle as being a judge during the trial of these soldiers. and i was wondering if there could possibly be any sketches
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or photographs available of any of those kind of trial incidences with the union soldiers. mr leonard: within andersonville , there is really the only one trial. it takes place at the last days of june 1864. and so there aren't any drawings of that. certainly, especially in the later prisoner memoirs published by the 1870's, 1880's, and 1890's, they talk about the raiders in great detail. whether our drawings of is the execution -- what to there are drawings of -- what there are drawings of is the execution of the raiders. the execution of a small number of prisoners by other prisoners, that is a big deal. 23,000 people watched that. and -- and they draw it.
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there are drawings of the gallo structure -- gallows themselves. there are drawings of that particular moment. host: stone mountain, georgia, jane is up next. caller: earlier this year, i went to andersonville with my boy scout troops, and i want to hear about the buddy system they had between the prisoners and the guards. buriedo the raiders were separate from all the other graves. could you tell me about that? mr leonard: absolutely. policylly, according to and regulation within the prison, prison trade is -- guards trading with prisoners is prohibited, which means it happens all the time. there is a pretty slick black market. especially early on in the
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spring and summer as prisoners are leading -- leaving the cabin prisoners doing work outside the main stockade, they will often interact with civilians, women coming to sell vegetables. we have descriptions of sweet potato pies being sold. if you are a prisoner coming from the battlefield that spring or early summer, you may have greenbacks, u.s. currency, union currency. that is an illegal object in the confederacy. which means, of course, there is an amazing black market. one of the ways that is kept into is the confederacy manages a settlor store within the prison -- settlers store within the prison. and be operator is a georgia militia officer. and he is bringing in goods and selling. one of the photographs of the prison shows this lean to structure.
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and that is the tipping point that the street off of the northgate -- it's original name was north street. it becomes known as market street because in addition to the store, you have this -- you are creatingners their own stores. they are trading real estate within the prison. trade, you a skilled are doing that. one of the prisoners who does testify for the defense claims that it is possible to get a -- [indiscernible] there are prisoners making food and producing food. there is a free market economy, and it is a reminder that we perceive andersonville as a hopeless place. these men have ingenuity, they have drive, they are attempting to make a life out of their circumstances. ,n regards to the raiders
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though six men, in late june when the arrival game is created to put an end to the camp robbing, the regulators are, quite frankly, a vigilante gang. and they go to the prison command and say you have a problem, we will help you fix it if you let us identify them. they say that is a raiders, that is a raider. those trials, prisoner trials dismiss most of them. about 70 or so. and they are made to run a gauntlet back into the prison. and they are severely beaten. we know that one of the prisoners through the gauntlet died because of the injuries sustained. that leaves six. and -- the so-called ringleaders -- one of these -- one of the
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soldiers has been a prisoner at andersonville for two weeks. my provocative thought is, he is not a ringleader of anything. he made a powerful enemy. those men, after their executions, because of the dishonor of the act, stealing from other prisoners, beating other prisoners, they are executed for that. sense,e, in a dishonorably discharged and executed. who is doing the burying at andersonville? prison labor. those six men are buried in dishonor. black soldiers dying at andersonville are not buried separately. they are buried in the trenches along with everyone else. and that is a measure of the prison labor. a black soldier who died is a soldier. they lost theers,
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right to be buried with their fellows. and they remained today segregated graves away from the other graves. they are separate in their dishonor. host: you're talking about prison life, mr. leonard. in our world, the word "deadline" means one thing. why was it famous? mr leonard: the deadline doesn't originate in andersonville. it is, however, an invention of the civil war military prison. prisons, north and south, have deadlines. and those deadlines take various forms. , it is a simple fence. places, over the creek, sometimes the deadline is not obvious. sometimes prisoners deal the forrds in -- you know -- firewood or shelter building. and the rule is, of course, if you cross the deadline, guards can shoot you.
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and yet the photographs taken in august of 1864 illustrate the prison at its height. clearly shows shelters tied to the deadline. so andersonville is also a place of great contradiction. in some of the northern prisons, it is a ditch or a line of posts where at night they put candle lanterns on. a line that if you cross you are going to get shot at is the sort of thing which soon -- shouldn't have any ambiguity. host: the next call is mike from california. you are on with our guest, eric leonard. caller: yes, thank you for the programming. i have kind of a twofold question. firstly, i want to know what happened to the actual prison site when the war ended? the physical structure. was it just left or was it torn down and the fields farmed?
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wasalso, i know that there a photographer, i think his name might've been -- [indiscernible] -- and i wondered if there were any pictures of the prison after the war ended? i wondered if there was any magazine articles or book that describes that? mr leonard: the ghost and chattels of andersonvilles a , a valuable book because it is not a narrative history, it explores various components and there is a chapter in that book that focuses on our traditional pronunciation. he is a georgian photographer. those photographs aren't after the prison. there are smack dab in the middle. read about august 16, 1864. -- read about august 16, 1860 -- right about august 16, 1864.
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the week before, there had been a terrible flood through the middle of the prison that had breached the wall through the creek. and that -- that is not shown in the photographs. the photographs very carefully show how tightly packed prisoners are. you can clearly see the flow of the creek through most of the prison, and you can see where there is essentially a brand-new reconstructed structure for the toilet. so the humbling thing in those photographs is this man sitting at the sink, at the toilet. they were captured for posterity , doing something that none of us want to be forgot doing. so that is part of that. in terms of what happens to the prison after, it is left in place. there is an army guard here very, very quickly.
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and there is an army quartermaster expectation that arrives here in -- in late july and stays for about three weeks into mid-august. that quartermaster expedition is commanded by captain james moore, who by this time has already established 2 battlefield national cemeteries in virginia. and their focus is not the prison site. they are tourists at the prison site, but the army guards that accompany them on protecting all the property. that expedition that establishes the cemetery, they take the original boards that just bore a number and replace them with wooden headboards with a number, name, regiment, and date of death. and accompanying that expedition very famously is clara barton. she uses her considerable political power, her association, her leadership with
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the missing soldiers office, to invite herself on captain moore's expedition. one of the dramas is those two leaders, clara barton and captain moore, are at loggerheads the entire time. the -- they are fighting over who is going to get credit for the work at andersonville. them and,peaks to quite frankly, not flattering ways. the army does the work of using the captured record, the death records they have with them. famous, the most prisoner, he served as a clerk in the prison hospital and he was one of half dozen boys who are keeping the death register, other records of the hospital complex. he is famous, and rightly so, for one of the bravest acts of conscience in the entire civil
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war. in mid-august 1864, when 100 men are dying a day, he thinks to himself, if my government knew, they would stop this. and he commits an act of bravery. he makes the choice when the chief surgeon is not present to start copying the entire death register. his fellow paroled clerks, they see what he is doing, they know what he is doing, they don't tell. a couple of them copy the idea. the difference is someone like hyde copies the dead from just his home state. atwater was thinking of that posterity. he was thinking about the thousands of families across the country who might never know. and he -- he -- oh, go ahead. host: we are just minutes away from a special semi there at andersonville. just take one more call.
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this is linda from jeffersonville, indiana. if you could go ahead with your question or comment. caller: i have three relatives that died in andersonville, and when my husband and i went there to visit, i found out that the section where my relatives were buried, the men were buried standing up. and that was because a lot of them had died at the same time. and so they just buried them altogether, but they buried them standing up. i was wondering if that was true because so many men died at the same time, was there a battle or an illness that swept through the prison? thank you. mr leonard: the -- from the records that describe -- that provide us the insight into how the burying was done, that his prisoners telling us, they are not varying them standing up. they are burying them shoulder
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to shoulder lying down. they are digging a trench about three or four feet deep. at times, they are putting a board underneath and a board above the bodies. maybe as many as the first 50 to 100 burials are actually in caskets. it is after that they realize they don't have time. so the boards provided little bit of protection to the body, prevention of essentially the graves settling or collapsing. and each body is numbered. they put the headboard with a number on it. august is the deadliest month. the death rate is highly variable until august. august is a perfect storm because of the heavy fighting in two places, around richmond and then as chairman is edging ever , the prisonlanta population is booming, the lack
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of an exchange or other facilities is studying to create anderious challenge, the -- it is in that moment that when a thousand people are dying a day, you're focusing on identifying their bodies. it is during that moment they stop putting those boards down because they don't -- to cut the boards, to protect the bodies, requires men that they need to keep digging trenches to keep up with the demand of the task. host: mr. leonard, i think we will have to leave it there. thank you so much for your participation in educating us about the events at andersonville. we have been joined by mr. leonard telling about it. thank you for being part of our coverage today. mr leonard: oh, it is my honor really. we are glad to have you all here. and the service that is about to happen is going to be really special. host: and we are going to take
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it to that service later on in the program. we will talk with professor lesley gordon about other events could but for now, we go to special ceremony services at the prison site. >> [indistinct chatter] >> [indistinct chatter]
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>> [indistinct chatter] >> [indistinct chatter]
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>> [indistinct chatter] >> good afternoon. you can go ahead and take your seats and we will get started. >> [indistinct chatter]
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>> good afternoon again. i would like to take this opportunity to thank the maneuver center of excellence brass quintet for their musical selections. their music continues to enhance our programs each year. >> [applause] >> on behalf of the national park service, i welcome you to andersonville national historic site. again, my name is charles fellers. as the park superintendent, i have the honor and privilege of serving today as the master of ceremonies. this weekend is the capstone event of the 150th anniversary of cap sumpter military -- camp sumter military called andersonville. on behalf of the park, we sincerely thank you for being here.
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i invite you to stand as the georgia army national guard advances the colors. after the colors are posted, please follow me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. will you please stand?
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mr sellars: i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america. and to the republic for which it god,s, one nation, under indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. >> march. mark. forward. march.
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mr sellars: please, be seated. we now turn our attention to the arrival of the ceremonial casket escorted by georgia state bagpiper, deputies from the sheriff's office, and members of the united states army, navy, and marines.
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>> ♪
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>> [indiscernible] >> [indiscernible]
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>> ♪ [pipes playing]
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mr. sellars: you may be seated. now like to invite to the podium reverend frederick buckner, inner and director at calvary and piscopo church. -- calvary episcopal church. he will open our service with an invocation.
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amen. mr. sellars: thank you, reverend. for the prisoners at andersonville, prayers provided
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comfort, community, and sometimes even solutions. the story of providence springs is an ongoing testament to man's belief in greater things. prisoners also believed in the power of words, whether through letters from home or their own reflections. here to share his own words, i would like to introduce mitchum. -- mr. mitchum. >> what an honor it is to be here. 2015. at andersonville isry prayer once prayed here still in the air. but there is also that old whine of astonishment, caught in the throes, so who are we to have gathered here?
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even in praise, even humbled by the blood of our inheritance, could we ever be too sure what history is good for? history is what we are. creatures made of time and a story. the clay of the bible. fired and shaped into brittle drawers that hold our days. and today, we are in our element , out in these fields at the end of summer, where we stroll as freely as we choose down clean lanes of grass and stone. we can take our time and try to understand what we will never understand. but one measure of our days has commanded us to fall in and to stand at attention, to form up where the stockade swarmed and
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groaned of septic mod, -- mud, the soldiers prayed to god for the end of, the desk and the sunrise are still inside us. today, they are the strange beads of a prison rosary. a ruined boot lace tied in knots. amens go on, then, and say to the wetlands at our feet. blades of grass. the beautiful uncut hair. amen to the night that takes up its position. amen to the sun that advances through the risen dust, with or without us, whatever we believe. everywhere, now, in this nation of old sorrows and new, even trembling with the past, here at andersonville, we are suffering from what we have forgotten.
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tell us again, if you can, how to praise and how to grieve and how to witness. give us this day. forgive us our trespasses. the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to them all. turn, you, to the stronghold. ye prisoners of hope. >> [applause] mr. sellars: thank you. the civil war was viewed by many as the second american revolution. in honor of those who chose to fight for freedom, the maneuver center of excellence brass quintet will play the american revolutionary war medically. --
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>> ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪
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♪ ♪
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>> [applause] although the prison site was open only a short time, its impact has been felt throughout generations. for a brief history, i am pleased to introduce dr. lesley
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gordon from the university of akron. thank you. it is a privilege to be here today. fourth, -- 4, some 400 members entered andersonville prison. this particular regiment, which had seen much active duty, was captured at the battle of plymouth. entering the stockade here, several members described their first impressions in their diaries. sergeant major robert kellogg wrote, quote, as we entered the place, -- [indiscernible] -- which almost froze our blood. our hearts failed us as we saw what you see men, now nothing but mere skeletons.
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god protect us. newvate george -- immediately that death stalked close. he wrote, it is a dirty, filthy place. a large number die here daily. sergeant oliver gates was convinced it would prove, he wrote, quote, the hardest trial of my life. although i have faced death in many forms. the confederacy erected andersonville here near the small town of anderson, georgia, to handle the growing number of captives overwhelming prisons after the breakdown of the cartel system. in may 1864, just over 12,000 inmates crowded into this open air stockade. by the time andersonville would close its gates for good, what a
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5000 union soldiers were imprisoned here. and as we know today, early 13,000 of them made andersonville and -- their final resting place. of those, 400 that entered here, about a hundred of them would die. today, we come here to commemorate those deaths with the funeral for 13,000. prisoners died, as robert kellogg described, quote, not in the heat and excitement of the battle, but in the loneliness of a multitude with a comrade only by their side with an enemy lines and under hostile flak. i call pows, members of the 16th connecticut suffered from exposure, disease, lack of adequate sanitary per -- facilities, and insufficient medical care. diarrhea, dysentery, and scurvy tormented the inmates. although the soldiers who entered had enjoyed combat, death in -- endured combat,
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death in prison or something entirely new. -- men die here grace fast. just over a week later, he likened the death to the falling leaves in autumn. sergeant20, sarge or -- oliver gates counted 11 dead since they had arrived on that may day. and he wrote, quote, more than ever -- here we get nothing to eat and no care. prisoners were dying in their tents, and open son, anywhere, and everywhere. onh little to do but focus the suffering, the impact of so much death, especially this kind of death, unheroic, helpless, was profound for those who did survive. by mid august, sergeant grossman wrote in his diary that he scarcely knew what to write.
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terrible,ity rate was he said, the weather was unbearable, and men's hearts were thinking -- sinking. by mid-march, sergeant savage said that nearly every day, someone died. days, a man would look forward and wonder who's turn was next. grossman estimated that prisoners were dying at a rate of 45 per day. forbes counted 25 dead from the regiment. he said, how fast we are passing away. preferable tofar imprisonment. barely two weeks into captivity,
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forbes wrote that it would be unspeakable happiness to return to the army and fight under the flag of honor. as it was later explained, they do not have to be free from all participation, they do long to fourth, even if it is to meet the smoke of the canon in a fiercely contested battle, because there, at least, it would be glorious action. improvement was nothing like this meant had ever experienced. it was something that would hunt aunt them. on his second day, forbes visited one of the hospitals and was deeply shaken by what he saw. he said, i have seen many men in condition so -- i have never seen them in a condition so
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heart rendering as this. as the weeks turned to a month, and no exchange was made, it was astonishing how much suffering the men injured. no other place could possibly compare to the misery and destitution of andersonville. forbes wrote, perhaps i'm rush in thinking so, but it does seem that men cannot suffer more than they do in here. members of the 16 connecticut where concerned that they die a good death, and have some sort of christian service, before their removal, despite the horrific conditions around them. forbes wrote, there are no religious services held, and none outside, a fact that reflects great disgrace. quote, when a man dies here, he is carried out on
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a stretcher. they can't than to the bearing ground and data hole, and throw him in, as they would a dog. recover him up without any ceremony. one person for dying so soon. upon a dyingd knows,r, he wrote, who this man may have a loving family home, who may never know his end. no one outside would ever realize one half of the suffering that occurs here, by supposed it is better. years after the war, it was a point of pride among the men of the 60 no other men of their russian meant lack what they call it reverend barrio. burial.
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it was impossible for the, to take the body outside, and thus, burial could be arranged. forbes insisted that no man of the 16 to die here was deprived of the last tribute of what he camaraderie.ian certainly, some in the regiment as to the prisoners falter and in toto despair -- give despair. some became galvanizing even served in the confederate army. those who did not die survive to face more imprisonment in charleston or florence, before exchange finally and mercifully came. prisoners late in 1864 and early in 1965 when parole in
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annapolis maryland, and then they were furloughed from service. they found himself in a limbo, waiting to be formally exchanged d theirthe commenceme furloughs. one said he was thankful to be alive. he was convinced that in just a few weeks, he would have perished. for others, their imprisonment had been too long. private lewis holcomb was paroled from prison in 1864. he came home, in the words of wreck.ily, ia his health seem to improve, and by april, he returned to the he was notowever, fully recovered and on may 19,
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1865, he entered a military hospital in fairfax, virginia where he died at the age of 24. his family new england never heard from them again. reached his home, but his body was so broken and weekend, he died within one week of his arrival. read, eightne months of suffering and rebel prisons, he came home to die. he was 22 years old. for others, the imprisonment .eft their bodies showered all brigades, after work, occupations.rewar , andlost his left arm unable to do manual labor, he lived the next 10 years off of his daughters pension from the pensionnt -- modest from the government. another member, lee, settled
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in connecticut, he married and had two daughters, but his health was also shattered. he set out west. he and his wife were in iowa in in 1876,when he died -- when he died at the age of 35. although a public plea was made that he be added to the civil war monument, as he had been a faithful soldier, and contracted disease from here and andersonville, it was never added to the monument. there were also those diagnosed a insane. these include those in the ranks . one, for example, who is was admitted to a hospital for the insane, whe he died.
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when the veterans dedicated the state monument here, robert kellogg gave a short address, addressing his fellow prisoners. he did not come here to censor those pows who broke the accepted confederate paroles. he would not dwell on difficulties that he or his comments had -- his comrades had. and said his focus was on healing and commemoration -- instead, his focus was on healing and commemoration. this event today provides us with the opportunity to remember those who died here, but also, to remember that even for the many survivors, their ordeal did not end here. theirtruggle to resume civilian lives. they suffered difficult times. they sought to construct
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a new heroic narrative. quoted here,ords we hear how deeply these pows the dead ensure that here be remembered. it is important to recognize that their mother captivity left lasting scars. thank you. [applause] mr. sellars: thank you, dr. gordon. way to goe is no easy from captivity to one of our nations most beloved songs, it its music and lyric of both the possibilities of a unified nation. we now present, "america the beautiful." ♪
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[applause] mr. sellars: over 14 months, the united states soldiers, sailors, marines, and civilians were held captive here at andersonville. their memories honored by the reathes during
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patriotic ceremonies throughout the nation. wreath onsenting the armyf of the united states command major stringfield.
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mr. sellars: presenting a wreath on behalf of the united states navy, logistic specialist third class justin logan, hospital m cole.ond classed amon
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mr. sellars: presenting a r wreathe on behalf of the marine admiral.rgeant and
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mr. sellars: presenting a wreath on behalf of civilians, national park service regional director sherry fields and mattie and michael sellars. mr. sellars: thank you. we would also like to acknowledge the additional
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wreaths that have been placed here today from the descendent organizations and the american prisoners of war. [applause] now, it is my great pleasure to induce our keynote speaker, sergeant major of the army, daniel. [applause] sergeant major dailey: it is a great day to be a soldier. ladies and gentlemen, welcome. i am honored to be heard today. as a history major, i very excited about the opportunity to talk about what history teaches .s about ourselves
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history tends to remember the dates, the battles, the victories. it lost the winners -- lauds the winners. there are some places on the battlefield where dates and , arees, winners and losers matters of inconsequence. is thee places, survival only place of magnitude. this place, this ground we walk on today, is such a place. months ateriod of 14 camp sumter, not far from orersonville, nearly 13,000, 20% of the 45,000 enlisted union soldiers, who were here, confined on these grounds, died here. andersonville is a place where survival was against the odds for those who entered the stockades. those who were blessed to leave
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did not have long in the world due to the disease that went unchecked here. tragedy, this humanitarian disaster, of insufficient food, shelter, and infamous inis now our civil war narrative. what i will remember today, and what i ask you to remember are the lives that lived before and as little -- andersonville, the lives lived after andersonville, and the lessons learned. in my attempt to do justice to the 45,000 stories of the prisoners, i will share the story of just one of them. iis u.s. soldier and p.o.w. highlight today is no better or worse than any other. to those dedicated family members who are here today,
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please accept my sincere apology to not have enough time to tell each of every story of them. i wish i could. just know, you are there voice, and our nation appreciates you for keeping their chronicles alive. without you, america would be a place defined by numbers or markers on a map, where shells drop and men are varied. instead, our nations history is allof men and women of backgrounds, both successful and unsuccessful, who came together with their own dreams to build a place for us to endeavor, as we may. with success at times and with failure at others.
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sometimes, through these stories, we get a glimpse of someone's life that enriches our own immeasurably. they make our nation great. individuals, i wanted just to you, was born and bred in my home state of pennsylvania. it was 1863. kepart andca cap enlists in the union army. he was already 31 years old with hazel eyes and a dark complexion and our hair. i'm quite sure he was a handsome man. it is hard to know why a man of his age and with the family would decide to enlist, even if it was to be part of the famed 13th regimen, of which he
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served. mr. bill miller ponders the same question. why would his great-great-grandfather choose to enter the war with the family to care for. why did he serve? perhaps it was because the union victory at gettysburg, a few short months before, had galvanized enlistment among men and women in the north. perhaps it was because he felt a againstto fight slavery. perhaps it was because the lisbon bounty, a sizable amount, would do his family well in a time of need. perhaps mr. miller will never know what prompted his great great granddad to prompt this to join this-- brotherhood. i know that with his persistence -- without his persistence, we would have never known this tale
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, nor how his existence on this earth created a family of future soldiers. being o invention of the anon did researchmiller's through the national archives to uncover archives to pay a portrait of his ancestor. like a puzzle, piece after piece, perfectly placed, these facts and figures help contribute to our now intimate, and personal, glimpse into a shared national history that comes directly from the genealogy of many family trees. miller was himself a volunteer soldier. he chose to serve and a time of war, despite being a student at .enn state university as he turned back the pages of american history, he learned how improbable his existence was, and yet, he stands amongst us today to share the unlikely yarn
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. you see, little did he know that in the course of just one year, fight, benlist, captured at st. mary's church prisonginia, survived , and be relocated to andersonville, and diet of , his wife he know would succumb to the pressures of providing and caring for his for girls, and make the unimaginable choice of placing orphanage of veterans. little did he know that despite all that was stacked against their success, these girls would marry, their children, and contribute to the american story .n their own, unique ways one of those unlikely children born to one of those girls would be the grandparent of my new friend, bill miller. he and his two brothers all
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served our nation. this is a story of family, of resilience, of selfless service and sacrifice. the sergeant story is the story of america. this chronicle is just one of 45,000 stories of men that endured this place of epic tragedy. it is the story of the lives they carried on afterwards. it is also the story of the 13,000 souls that never left this place, the battles they fought in, the dates entered into their letters, and the diaries of the generals who commanded them are of no magnitude in this hallowed ground at andersonville. why they chose to serve in a time of war. today, there are approximately one million americans in the u.s. army.
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, yet, only about 1% of the population of this great nation will ever choose to serve. these men of andersonville were of a special breed. they were men that knew full well the consequences of their actions. for their own personal reasons, they did what few others could, do.would they served. it is this brotherhood that i'm so honored to represent here today. a brotherhood that bonds us across centuries, in life-and-death. it bonds us in history. we, who served today, are following in the footsteps of the men who injured here at andersonville. through 14 years of war on two fronts, today, still, we take the example and use it as our , noiration to fight on
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matter the circumstances. banner, white, and blue of the united states of america, and the black and white flag that honors our pows fly ase-by-side together today we commemorate a nation, and a war, the change our nation. these flags honor the men of men andville and the women in the audience today who have suffered being a prisoner of war on foreign land. in vietnam, korea, cambodia, and so many places. it teaches the army much about our enemy, and the world, much of our nation's values. what we have undoubtedly learned from the disaster at andersonville is the humane
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treatment of pows to finds are national identity and reiterates our army values by ensuring that dignity and respect is paid to all enemy combatant. we have also learned how precious freedom is. cost.reedom always has a the cost is paid by men and women, men and women who are willing to endure torture, knowledge or should loneliness, despair, and even death in the .ursuit of freedom history tends to remember the dates. it remembers the battles of the victories. victories.e are some places on the battlefield where dates and battles, winners and l losers are matters of an consequence. in these places, survival is the only thing of magnitude. the men of andersonville have survived. they have survived 150 years of
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what makes our nation great, the american people. as i conclude with you today, my hope is for the 13,000 souls lost here to rest in peace. one aowledge sacrifice prosperous world in an ever evolving nation. and legacy lives on in the heartbeats of their descendents, and the democratic spirit they inspire in those who follow in their footsteps. although tragic, their sacrifice and service paves the way for us to become a great nation. the greatest nation in the world has ever known. the united states of america. it is a great day to be a soldier, and i am honored and privileged that these enlisted men gave me that opportunity. god bless them, not bless their families. godbless their legacy, bless our pows and mia past and present, god bless this great
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state of georgia, and god bless the united states of america. [applause] sgt. maj. dailey: please join me and stand for military honors. [drumroll]
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[gunshots] ♪
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[taps playing] [indiscernible]
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>> you may be seated. at this time, i would like to invite reverend buckner to the podium to give a an addiction. -- a benediction. let us pray.ner: remember, oh lord, we beseech the. the souls of them that have kept the faith, those who we remember and those we were member not. and grant them rest in the land of the living and the joy of
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paradise where all pain and grief have fled away, for the light of thy countenance shine is forever, and guide in peace the end of our lives oh lord, when that will, and as that will , that we may enter the gate and dwell in that house where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise nor silence, but one equal music. no fears, no hoax, but one equal possession. no end nor beginning, but one equal eternity in the habitations of thy majesty and glory, world without end. and unto god's gracious mercy and protection, we commit ourselves and those near and dear to us. the lord bless us and keep us. the lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us.
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the lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and fill us with his piece. both this day, and evermore. amen. rest internal grant to them, lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. amen. mr. sellars: at this time i would like to knowledge largest , mr. kenneth cut from the congressman's office. [applause] mr. sellars: i would like to invite you to stand once again, this time, as the georgia army national guard presents the
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colors for a second time, and please remain standing. [drumroll] >> present arms.
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♪ [national anthem playing]
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[applause] [drumroll]
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mr. sellars: you may be seated. throughout the service, the united states flag stands prominently at the center of the national cemetery as set at half staff in mournfully knowledge meant of these losses. retired brew deal general robert corner him has performed the duty of raising the flag to full staff. his honors the service of medical staff throughout american military history, and echoes the role at the famous nurse clara barton played in raising a flag on the spot in august of 1865. conclusion, i want to thank the military representatives for supporting this event. i also want to thank the public for their continual support in
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our national parks. we are pleased to consider this our first centennial event for andersonville national historic site. day will mark the 100 earth of the founding of the national park service, and across the country, our 408 sites will be celebrating all year long. , andvite you to join us find your part. we also hopes that one of the parks you find will be andersonville. thank you. [applause]
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♪ >> you are watching american history tv >> you're o watching american history tv on c-span 3. our coverage of ceremonies in andersonville, georgia at the site of the andersonville prison. you've been learning about it. earlier today we had a chance to talk with a historian on this topic. you saw the ceremony. we continue on with our conversation to learn more about life at andersonville
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prison. our next guest joining us now is going to be with us, the university of akron history professor leslie gordon. you heard her speak earlier. she just spoke at the funeral for 13,000. she will be taking your questions on andersonville and the end of the civil war. if you want to ask her questions please go ahead and call us now 202-748-8900 for the eastern and central time 748-8901 for the mountain and pacific time zones. also tweet us at c-span history and also post questions at joining us now is leslie gordon. she is with the university of akron. also the author of the book "a broken regiment the 16th connecticut civil war." professor gordon thanks for oining us. can we talk a little bit about what you said in your speech as far as survivors of andersonville? you hinted tat in the speech,
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what a survivor had to go through. can can you expand on that? >> in the research dion this particular regiment i think it is representative of many of the rvivors that endured imprisonment here. once they -- if they made it through andersonville it didn't mean necessarily their imprisonment was over. many were transferred out and went on to other prisons. the confederacy where they were shifting prisoners to prisons in charleston, florence, and so many might have died there and then they survived that, they would go into a parole camp and that could last weeks or months and so sort of an experience of the bureaucracy of the army. they waited to be formally exchanged and the accounts of some of the men i studied in the 16th, one in particular named george robins talks about the journey home on the train that he called that the climax of his suffering. that was even worse than being here because he was in an over
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crowded train and with drunk soldiers and he was overwhelmed and exhausted. so they would go through this journey trying to get home and many of them made it home and then would die at home because their bodies were so broken from the experience and the disease, the chronic disease. it wasn't just as though being freed from here in exchange was the end of the story. >> as far as the 13,000 p.o.w.'s that died at andersonville, what happened to them? what does history tell us about what happened? >> well, the deaths here, it was over crowding and exposure and malnutrition and that was causing men to die from dysentery, they were dying from scoimby. severe diarrhea. so these were terrible ways to die of course. those are some of the things i was referring to in my talk that the men would say they would rather die in battle. they would rather die being shot and killed in the heat of
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combat than to die in this slow suffering that seemed so dehumanizing. to them, of course, and it is, it's just a terrible way to die. and that's how the majority of the 13,000 died from disease and malnutrition. >> we're seeing pictures of the grave sites there and just recently there was another type of memorial service there in which there was -- it was illuminated and kind of give you a sense of what's happening. you attended that. what was that like to attend that ceremony and see those illuminations? >> very powerful. i was with eric leonard who you spoke to earlier today. and another historian and we drove around and we were really taken aback by that sight of seeing the lit -- the lights, the 13,000. it really brought home a sense were here. many men
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there were 45,000 that endured andersonville so it brought this visual sense of the numbers. it's hard to contemplate that many deaths i think. it's true for the civil war in general. so many deaths but a place like here at andersonville and the way they died, i think that visual image is very, very powerful. >> leslie gordon is the author of "a broken regiment" the 16th connecticut civil war also a history professor at the university of akron. susan from stillwater, new york is our first call for you, professor gordon. o ahead. >> i have a great cousin who died at anderson april 2 it -- 22, 1864. i later read a book that said a lot of the people that they listed dying from dynasty really died from gangrene.
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is that possible? >> you know, i think more of the deaths were from -- and i -- from dysentery, which is related again to malnutrition. but it could have -- i mean, the gangrene, that was usually elated to open wounds. they certainly could have something like scurvy which would lead to sores. i don't know that -- my tendency is to think it was more often to this sort of malnutrition that led to this breakdown in the digestive system. but i don't know, you know, gangrene was certainly a concern here. i can't say for sure it was one thing or another but that is also of course a very nasty way to die. gangrene was a serious problem if you were wounded in battle. that was often what happened. it wasn't the wound itself but the infection that came later. >> rochester, new york, this is david. go ahead. >> dr. gordon, it's an honor to
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speak to you. i read william marble's book on andersonville. do you consider that the best book or do you recommend any other books, history books on andersonville? and also, have you read the novel "andersonville" by mckinley canter? if so, do you recommend it? thank you. >> thank you. i think will marble's book still stands as the best comprehensive history of the prison. there are others. lonnie spears' book is very good as a sort of overview of prisons also. there's been some good books that have started to look at the memory of the prison and the effects of, and also p.o.w.'s and brian gordon just did a great book about veterans in general and he has a chapter in there on the ex-prisoners and what happened to them when they came home. marvel is very dismissive of a loft the post war writings of the prisoners and i'm not as
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questioning of them. particularly one member of the 16th, very dismissive of it. i don't agree with everything marvel had to say but it is a very important book and a good place certainly to start and then from there -- i think there is much that we need to learn and explore about the topic of civil war prisons. it's really being neglected as a topic. i have read mckinley canter's book. i read it many, many years ago when i first became interested in the civil war. mckinley canter was an important author to me as a teenager. i haven't read it probably in more than 30 years. and i think it's significant in reminding us of the every day soldiers, but i would go back to some of these other historians for more of the factual information. i think reading those together gives you a sense of the reality of the suffering here
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and the magnitude of it. >> what do we learn about prison life especially at andersonville by your study of the 16th connecticut? what kind of specifics did you glean from that? >> well, what was so interesting and important i think about the experience of the 16th they began their service in antiem and they're green troops and they panic and run off the field essentially and that is the beginning of their civil war service. they never get another chance to redeem themselves just because of circumstance. they're transferred out of active service and captured at the battle of plymouth in april of 1864 and end up here. those are the two book ends of the civil war service -- panicking and fleeing at the battle of antiem and imprisonment here at andersonville. for them as civil war soldiers the story here is hugely significant. i argue that this becomes a redemption narrative for them. what happens to them here shall the suffering they experience.
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for them, they want that to be as good as fighting at gettysburg, as good as experiencing chancellorsville or vicksburg. yes they're union veterans and yes they're on the winning side but they want to also be counted as victors even though they can't show the same battle scars that their other comrades could. it's difficult because p.o.w.'s really weren't seen and perceived as the same as other veterans. this is true for not just the 16th connecticut. in my book i'm really exploring how they coped with the experience here and how they wanted the memory to be crafted and this was a lingering issue for them. they came back here, the veterans, the survivors many of them in the early 1900's to commemorate the monument to their state. i'll argue this is really a monument to their regiment because they spearheaded the effort. they led the state commission. manned the stly
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monument commission. one of their members robert kellogg was very, very influential in the -- also in the effort. and so this is so important to them that people remember what happened here. and not forget it. >> and, professor gordon, as part of that there was a casket during the ceremony if we understand it there were paper stars in there to the tune of 13,000. >> yes. that was really remarkable. yes. i didn't get to see the actual stars. i saw some photographs online of the stars. i understand they were from children all over that sent them in and it was moving with the military honors here today. >> we're looking at video of those stars. leslie gordon is our guest to talk about andersonville. this is david from texas. go ahead. >> hello. great program by the way. this is what television should be all about.
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i think i saw on the history channel that right when andersonville was built the north stopped the prisoner exchange program. and that more than anything else contributed to the suffering, much of the suffering and death at andersonville. i was wondering, one, if that is true, and, two, if it is, did the north know about andersonville? why didn't they reinstitute the prisoner exchange program? i'll hang up and listen. thank you very much. >> thank you for your question. yes shall the exchange program -- yes, the exchange program has stopped by the time andersonville was opened. the confederacy had these overwhelming numbers of prisoners and they had nowhere to put them anymore in the richmond prisons so they built andersonville to deal with it and it never was meant to hold as many prisoners as it did. and so there were -- the blame
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for andersonville, there are a lot of -- there is a lot of blame to go around certainly but the confederacy was well aware of how bad the conditions were. i think henry worth played his role certainly. he was tried and found guilty for the conditions here. he did not have control over everything that was going on here. he had a superior john winder who also i think can be, you know, charged with some of the responsibility. he died, though, before the war ends. but the north as far as this question of what's going on and the union signed how much did they know, there's a book by charles saunders who is very, very critical not just of the confederate authorities and how much they knew of the conditions here but of the union authorities ks of lincoln and stanton. and i think it's a compelling case that the war department in particular they began by the summer of 1864 they knew exactly what was going on here.
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they were getting accounts. and of course sherman starts to make his way here into georgia with his campaign toward atlanta and he is also aware and there are some plans, he allows for one attempt to free the soldiers, the prisoners, and that failed. but there is an acknowledgment by grant, by sherman, by lee, and stanton, that they want to end this war. they want to win the war. that's the best way to free the also the fact that the confederates refused to accept black troops as prisoners, to treat them as prisoners of war. that of course played a huge role in the prison policy of the union. that could not be negated in this whole question of who is to blame. i think that the conditions that one in three men were dying here, and it certainly didn't have to happen.
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the things that could've been done. but yes, the union made a conscious decision that they were going to fight the war and look for ending the war as quickly as possible. the argument grant made that if you put forces on the ground to come here and liberate the prisoners, that that would've taken away from his larger strategy of winning the war. host: for leslie gordon, david from utah. go ahead. caller: yes, the national park website for andersonville lists 32 union soldiers who successfully escaped from andersonville. my distant relative was one of them, his name was john eager. i just wanted by chance -- i wondered by chance of she knew anything about him. he ended up dying in ohio at a military hospital in 1878.
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he had leg injuries that he developed at andersonville. anyway, i know it's a long shot, i wondered if she knew anything about him. professor gordon: i'm sorry, i don't. that's quite a remarkable story. there were not that many escapes. it was very hard to get out of here. that's something that your relative did make it out. i think it also speaks to, as you said, he still suffered from the experience of being here. there were escapes. i know from the 16th, some of the officers -- officers weren't kept her, but some officers and ended up in charleston, for example, they escaped. there has been some new work done on this question of escaped prisoners. and we need more work on this. we don't know as much about these stories. i don't know, i'm sorry about your relative.
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host: were escapes low because of the structure, were there other factors? professor gordon: as far as how hard it was? it also speaks to be question of blame. they had this place pretty well fortified. yes, there were men, the georgia militia or guards that were here, it was difficult to have that many -- the manpower question is a real one as far as the confederacy -- who could be spared to guard a prison like this one? but there were trenches builds, earth works built, and artillery pieces set up surrounding the prisoners so they can be fired. there were threats made, rumors that some of the men talking about it they were going to be fired on, that artillery was going to be unleashed on them
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because of behavioral problems. the men were constantly looking for a way to get out, there was digging. there were dogs that were used. and of course, there's the infamous deadline. it was not an easy place to try and escape from. the conditions of the prisoners themselves, they were so weak and sick to even contemplate physically trying to break their way out. this was the middle of nowhere. it was a very isolated location, and purposely so. if you escaped from prison in charleston or richmond, it was easier to get to union lines. until sherman makes his way down here, you'll have to travel pretty far to make your way to union lines. host: here's tj from staten island, new york. caller: thank you for taking my call. we talked a little before about blame.
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i was wondering, throughout the beginning of the war, there was a policy of prisoner exchange. and when grant and lincoln realized that this would be a sheer war of attrition, that policy was ended. do you think ending that policy contributed to the increased population of prisoners in andersonville? professor gordon: right. that is the question. at the point that lincoln and grant and stanton started to appreciate that if these changes -- exchanges continued, that confederates exchanged would go back into the armies. but it also was this question of how the confederacy refused -- with the emancipation proclamation was passed, and became law on january 1, 1863, the confederacy refused to treat
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black troops as prisoners of war. they declared black troops as fugitives. fugitive slaves. and so this also played a role in the policy decisions. yes, i think it's a combination of issues. you also have to take into the fact that by the time you get into 1864, this war had become a much vaster, harder war than anyone had expected. even when the war had started, very few people had thought about the question of prisoners. it really had not been carefully considered and planned. and we ended up with these situations not just here in andersonville, but in these other prisons. this was obviously the worst of the deadliest. again, there were specific reasons why was the deadliest. host: next is dave from alpharetta, georgia.
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go ahead. caller: good afternoon. i watched the ceremony this afternoon. i'm curious, unless my eyes deceive me, was the casket in front of the lectern drape in a 48 star flag? or am i in error? i will await your comment. professor gordon: i was behind, so i don't know. i don't know they had a flag that would've been -- and sorry, don't know. host: tell us a little bit about what we hear the modern-day military how a soldier transfers to civilian life. what was it like for a transfer to civilian life for those who left andersonville, and if there are examples that you can give us from the 16th connecticut that might help us understand that? professor gordon: the transition wasn't always easy.
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the one example i can think of is a good one is robert kellogg, who joined when he was 18 years old, so he was a very young man still when he comes home and survives andersonville becomes back to his home state, and returns to his original prewar job as a druggist. he's working in a drugstore in norwich, connecticut. he still keeps a diary for a few months in the early part of his return home. he says that he feels very isolated. he's feeling like nobody understands, he doesn't have any friends anymore. a local deacon died that he knew, and he mentioned in his diary that death seems to have no meaning anymore, after experiencing all of the suffering and death here, somehow -- it doesn't matter that this man died.
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now, he will marry, he will have a family, he will leave connecticut. he moves to ohio and sells insurance. and by all accounts coming is a successful man. he lives until 1935. so he lived a very long life or it is very active and better in activities with the 16th connecticut. he doesn't keep a diary, so the records i have on him are mainly letters, particular to his comrades. part of that isolation he was feeling, he does get back in contact with a lot of his friends from the regiment. this is vitally important to him. i think it's what helped him find his way, and sort of get back to what felt like some sense of normalcy. another example is ira forbes, who was a very close friend of robert kellogg. he originally wanted to go to yale, want to be a theologian, wanted to study religion, he comes back and does go to yale and end up deciding to go to
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journalism. it's not really clear why. he has a successful journalism career. like robert kellogg, it seems like he has done well professionally. but clearly there are demons haunting him. he becomes alienated from his comrades, so much so that they don't invite him here in the early 1900s in 1907 to dedicate the monument here, which is very dramatic but he's not included. he was a vital member of the unit, he helped save the flag of the unit at plymouth. i would argue he is one of the true heroes of the unit. but he became estranged from his comrades, he was arguing with them about what really happened. not just here in andersonville, but what happened in plymouth. had a falling out with them. he will be committed to the hartford asylum for the insane. he will be declared mentally ill. he dies there when he is 68 years old.
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to me, those are two examples of men that -- in many ways, they are 18 years old, 19 years old, they start off same place but they veer off in different ways . it is hard to prove, of course, that his mental illnesses directly tied to his civil war experience, particularly his of prisoners. you have to wonder. it seems that had a role. host: professor leslie gordon, are those who died in andersonville who are unknown? professor gordon: best estimates are there's about 500 unknown graves here. right after the prison closed, and then going forward in the postwar period, there was a national effort to identify the dead here. the prisoners were part of that, the survivors were part of that. they were intent on insuring that the dead here were remembered and the names were put on the graves. doris atwater was part of that,
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clara barton was very active as many people know. this became really crucial. there's a movement across the country both north and south to bury the dead, to commemorate the dead. here it andersonville, it was especially significant that the dead here be identified and accounted for. if you think about it, 13,500 of them are named. it is remarkable given the way they died and the conditions. host: our next call is greenville, south carolina. here is james. caller: i wanted to ask about the food situation at the andersonville prison. the south had a shortage of food at certain times, i think.
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i wondered how that affected the prison, into the prisoners have any kind of shelter to live under? professor gordon: well, food for the prisoners was particularly poor. this area of georgia had been relatively untouched by the war. again, before sherman came here. this was farmland, these farms here certainly could have been able to provide food for the prisoners. there were problems getting good quality food to the prisoners. i think that's where the question of who is responsible for some of that. henry worth, that plays in his feed. there are some things he could control and he could not control. this question of getting food into the prisons, whether they were being fed well, they were
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getting really low-quality. robert kellogg talks about the fact that they are not getting any kind of vegetables, that's part of the reason they are getting scurvy. so that clearly could have made a tremendous difference for them. and yes, no doubt. this is an issue for the confederacy, but parts of the confederacy, where the war's most affecting, where armies are moving -- the confederacy as a bureaucracy have these issues. the confederacy was agricultural nation, they produced farm goods, but could they get those goods transferred, whether to their own soldiers in the field, which prisoners? that was often the challenge. that was a difficult challenge for the confederates. host: cindy is from knoxville, tennessee.
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go ahead. caller: i was wondering what were the conditions between andersonville and camp douglas in chicago? thank you, i love the program. professor gordon: andersonville was the worst. it was the deadliest. again, it had the highest death rate. i don't know as much about can't mp douglas, in my own research, the northern prisons -- the last caller and i forgot to respond, he asked about whether there was shelter. the difference with andersonville compared to these other locations like camp douglas. the northern prisoners were at camps of instruction or former forts.
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united states forts that had been built before the civil war. andersonville is unique because it was located here, it was in this open area. there was nothing. there was no structure here. so the men came in here, if they happened to make it in with any kind of coverings, they would use that. and of course, there was praying on by the men themselves with raiders and what have you. they only had whatever they could use, whatever they literally had on their backs. that was a unique difference that andersonville had compared to the northern prisoners like a camp douglas. the death rates of northern prisons still was hired that ever should be. but it didn't compare with andersonville. host: you're watching a market history tv. professor lesley gordon, author
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of "a broken regiment." our previous guest talked about soldiers in the camp looking out for each other, especially once they were put in there. did you see that amongst 16th? professor gordon: very much. they talk about that. some of them admit, you could accept parole from the confederates. it meant a few different things. it meant you could go outside the pen, you could get better food, you can work in the hospital, you could do work for henry worth. whether that meant being a clerk for him, or some specific job you needed done. i believe john cousin or tells the story in his postwar account. a good friend of his took a parole to work outside the pen,
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and he gave him some exit food so he could bring some food that into the pen for him, and he claims that kept him alive. but there's no way he would've lived if his friend hadn't gotten that extra rations. there are other examples of that. they were incredibly dependent on those kind of friendships and relationships throughout. i do think that made such a difference. they really tried to keep tabs on each other while they were here, and keep tabs on how they were faring. of course when a member of the , regiment died, many of them would take note of it in their diaries. it was important for them, it seemed of course not only just to keep record of it, but to also talk about how they died, and the day they died, the moment they died. so that i'm sure they were thinking ahead to the could tell their families, thinking ahead to hopefully they made it home and they could bring some closure to their families. they were there when that one comrade passed away. host: riverdale, georgia.
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glenn, you are on with our guest. caller: thank you. i was involved in the filming of the movie andersonville, i was a confederate soldier. we filmed one scene there where the confederates were asking the prisoners to join the confederate army to get freedom and to serve with them for freedom. we all wondered whether that was a real true story or not. do you have any information about that? professor gordon: it's true. it's true. it happened, it didn't happen a lot, but it happened. it was denied -- in the postwar, most of the survivors would claim -- and even see on the monuments, death before dishonor. because in the postwar memory, there was this compelling desire to not want to mention and remember that anybody had
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accepted that kind of offer. and served essentially the enemy and accepted the offer to serve in the confederate army. it happened. the 16th connecticut, i found that some members -- not as much here in andersonville, but in florence, someone recently contacted me to show me that he had a list of a few names, specific names from the roster of men that accepted and served in the south carolina unit. for them, it was a moment of desperation. i think they really believed it was either take the offer, where they were going to die. i think that is what it came down to. that is the context for this. the confederate army of course was looking for men. they came through these prisons and into andersonville amigos -- and made those offers.
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host: michael from camptown, pennsylvania. caller: i have for professor gordon, thoughts about whether or not the andersonville is a product of the lincoln's policy of total war of attrition with sherman, and all about the extermination camps and so forth that was later copied by queen victoria. the boer war was even worse because they included soldiers, women and children. would you comment on that? and are you related to general gordon? professor gordon: thank you for your question. i am not. i grandfather changed our name gazanski. i'm not a gordon that goes back to john b. gordon.
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i don't know about the comparison you are making, suggesting through that war. the question about total war that has intrigued so many historians -- no doubt, about attrition, that's the broader point i was trying to make earlier. i think in the scope of things, i think we need to acknowledge that lincoln was aware of what was going on here. there was evidence that -- i think he had to feel -- and stanton as well, and these other generals, that even though this was a horrendous situation -- this would be his calculation. to end the war, to win the war, this would free the prisoners and their misery. this is what sherman explains in his own memoirs. when he's getting close to andersonville, he allows this one raid to come here, it fails. he doesn't want to lose sight of what his bigger prize is. by 1864, there was a sense that the confederates were still fighting. in virginia, in georgia, there
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are signs of weakening. it does become a war of attrition. i don't think the men here, from their perspective, they felt this could not stand. that their suffering had to be recognized and could not be seen as just part of total war. and part of the experience of war. these are these complicated questions that i think are important to try to take into account. it's hard to come out with an easy answer. host: let's hear from frank in atlanta, georgia. caller: professor, thank you. i had a third great grandfather
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by the name of joseph walsh was taken prisoner with the massachusetts fifth volunteers. he was taken prisoner by the confederates in 1862 and moved into a camp. we don't know which camp, there was a great number of volunteers for massachusetts that were incarcerated. he was given an option, this goes back to stories we been told in some writings in our family. he was given the option to lessen his punishment, improve his conditions if he were to agree to work with the the trade.s to ply
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be arade happen to pharmacy maker. he agreed to do that. he writes in the journal that he did it not to support the confederates, but to guarantee that he would be coming home after the war, basically to improve his living conditions. i'm wondering if you have found any evidence of any prisons in your research where this was a common practice. professor gordon: i think you were speaking of the common point of how men came to terms with the decisions they made. similar to your ancestor. i know again, with my work on the 16th, there's one particular soldier who, in his diary, there's one section where he is extremely critical of men that took these paroles to work in the cookhouse or work in the hospital. some of them worked as shoemakers, which was a highly
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valued trade for the confederacy. they wanted help making shoes. he was extremely angry and bitter about this. this was so shameful. again, death before dishonor. and in the last page of his diary, he confesses that he accepted a parole when he was at i think it was florence. he did it to stay alive, so we could go home to his wife and daughter. he says he regrets that he was so judgmental of his comrades. that no one should do that. that no one should try to assume they know what it's like to be in that position. again, i think it speaks to this gutwrenching torments of these prisoners were going through, whether this prison or other prisons. they are feeling a have been been forgotten in many cases. they don't really have a sense
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of the big exurb. whether it's a question of is this total war, is there attrition, is their exchanges going on? they are trying to survive, they can a lot or consider these abstract questions of patriotism and duty. even questions about the union or abolition. they are just trying to survive. some of them do give in and accept parole, and even join the confederacy. i think they are very real, human moments of crisis that can speak to us through the generations. you read about in these diaries and these memoirs that i think we have not recognized enough in civil war history, the really comes to a head in studying prisons. host: one more call for virginia, jump in with your question.
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ancestor inve an andersonville. at the end of the war, i don't know how we got to washington and died and is buried at arlington. i just wondered what happened at the end of the war to the prisoners there? professor gordon: he might have been like some of the soldiers i studied. he might have made his way to a place like camp perrault, there was one in fairfax, virginia. he might have been in one of those hospitals due to his imprisonment, no doubt. and he died and he ended up in arlington. that would be my suspicion. and that was the end of his story. host: what would you say is the legacy of andersonville? professor gordon: i think andersonville -- some of the things i was speaking to -- andersonville doesn't fit with the sort of larger heroic narrative of so many civil war battlefields, gettysburg, of
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courageous soldiers and decisive leaders. it leaves us with a lot of complicated, conflicting questions and emotions. i think that's in many ways the way it should be when you are studying subjects and thinking about the subject like the civil war. i think that is the legacy of andersonville. i think it needs more attention, it's appropriate that this funeral was here. these 13,000 -- i think it needs more attention. it is appropriate that the funeral is here for these 13,000. their comrades and survivors wanted these men to be remembered, they want to do be sure these men had a drop or burial, and i think it is appropriate. we keep coming back to think about this experience. host leslie gordon, thank you : for spending time with us.
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