tv The Civil War CSPAN October 14, 2015 1:15am-2:01am EDT
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 colors for a second time, and please remain standing. [drumroll]
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 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
>> you are watching american history tv on c-span3. our coverage of ceremonies in andersonville, georgia at the site of the andersonville prison. you have been learning about it. earlier today we had a chance to talk with an historian on this topic, you saw the ceremony. we continue with our conversation to learn more about life at andersonville prison. our next guest joining us now will be with us, the university professor leslie gordon, she just spoke at the funeral. she will be taking her questions, if you like to ask a question, call us now.
you can also tweet us or post questions on facebook.com/c-span. joining us is leslie gordon --professor lesley gordon. professor gordon, thanks for joining us. professor gordon: thank you. host: can we start with a little bit of what you talked about in your speech as far as survivors of andersonville, can you give us a sense of what a survivor had to go through? in theor gordon: research i did, it's representative of many of the theivors that endured imprisonment here. if they made it their andersonville, it didn't mean necessarily their imprisonment was over. many were transferred out of it on to other prisons, they were
infting prisoners to prisons troublesome, florence, and so many might have died there. they were going to put all caps. in those last weeks or months, that was the experience of the bureaucracy of the army. they waited to be formally exchanged. the accounts and some of the men i studied, one of them in particular, this one soldier named george robbins talked about the journey home on the train, he called at the climax of his suffering, that was even worse because he was in an overcrowded train, and he was overwhelmed and exhausted. they would go through this journey of trying to get home. many of them made it home and would die at home because their bodies were so broken. so it wasn't just as though being freed from here and being exchanged was the end of the story. the 13,000 pows
that died in andersonville, what happened to them? what's history tell us about what happened? --ler: -- sgt. maj. dailey: professor gordon: they were dying from scurvy and severe diarrhea. these were terrible waste of guys -- ways to die. men with they would rather die in battle, they would rather die shot and killed in the heat of combat and to die this slow suffering that seem to so dehumanizing. it's just a terrible way to die. majority of those 15,000 died, from disease and malnutrition. host: we are seeing pictures of the gravesites there. recently there was another type
of memorial service there and which was eliminated, to give you a sense of what's happening, you attended that. what was it like to attend that ceremony and see those illuminations. ? professor gordon: it was very powerful. i was with eric leonard and another historian, and we drove around. we were really taken aback by lights forseeing the the 13,000. it really brought home a sense of just how many men were here. is a portion of the 13,000 mother were 40,000 here that endured andersonville. so a broader 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 in andersonville, and the way they image was veryl
powerful. oft: leslie gordon, author the broken regiment, and a history professor at the university of akron. susan in stillwater, new york is our first call. go ahead. a great, great cousin who died at andersonville. april 22, 1864. as dynasty.s listed i read a lot of that was it is dying of dynasty really died from gangrene, is that possible? professor gordon: i think more of the deaths were from toentery, which was related malnutrition. the gangrene, that was usually related to open wounds. it certainly could happen from something like scurvy, which would lead to sores.
-- i think ithat was more often this malnutrition that led to this kind of breakdown in digestive systems. gangrene was certainly a concern. i can't say for sure was one thing or another. but that's 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, it was the infection that came later. host: from rochester, new york. this is david. professor gordon: dr. gordon, caller: -- dr. gordon, it's a honor to see you. do you consider his book on andersonville the best book, or do you recommend any other books on andersonville? and have you read the novel? professor gordon: thank you. book stands as the
best comprehensive history of the prison. , another some others is a good one as an overview prisons. there has been a good look at the memories of prison and the effects on pows, there's a great book about veterans in general, with the chapter on expert is and what happened to them when they came home. dismissive of lots of the postwar writing of the prisoners, and i'm not as questioning of them, in particular one member of the 16th coming is very dismissive of. i don't agree with everything that he has to say, but it's an important book and i think it's a good place to start. i think there is much that we abouto learn, and explore the very topic of civil war prisons. it's really being neglected as a
topic. i have read mckinley cantor's book, i read it many years ago when i first became interested in the civil war. mckinley cancer was an important author for me as a teenager. i haven't read it probably in more than 30 years. i think it's significant in reminding us of the everyday soldiers, but i would go back to some of these other historians for more of the factual information. i think reading those together do give you a sense of the reality of the suffering here, and the magnitude of it. host: what we learn about prison life in andersonville by your study of the 16th connecticut? what specifics did you glean from that? professor gordon: what was so interesting and important, i ofnk about the experience the 16th, they began their service in antietam, and they are green troops in a panic and
run off the field, essentially. as the beginning of their civil war service. they never get another chance to redeem themselves because of circumstance. they are transferred out of active service. they are captured at the battle of plymouth in april of 1864. they end up here. those of the bookends of their civil war service. at theng and fleeing battle of antietam, and then imprisonment in andersonville. as civil war soldiers, the story here is hugely significant. i argue it becomes a redemption narrative for them. what happens to them here, the suffering they experienced. for them, they want that to be as good as fighting at gettysburg. as good as experiencing chancellorsville or vicksburg. yes, they are union veterans and yes, they run the winning side. but they want also be counted as victors, even though they can't show the same battle scars there other comrades could. it's difficult because x pows really weren't seen and
perceived as the same as other veterans. this is true not just for the 16th connecticut. i'm really exploring how they cope with the experience, how they wanted the memory to be crafted. this was a lingering issue for them. they came back here, the veterans, many of them in the early 1900s to commemorate the monument to their state. i argue this is really a monument to their regiments. effort,arheaded the they led the state commission, they were mostly manning the monument commission. one of their members, robert kellogg, was very influential also in the effort. this was so important to them that people remember what happened here. and not forget it. host: professor gordon, as part of that, there was paper stars in there to the tune of 13,000.
professor gordon: yes, that was remarkable. see the actual stars, i saw some photographs online of the stars. i understand they were from children all over. the casket was quite moving. with the military honors today. host: we're looking at video of those stars. leslie gordon is our guest to talk about andersonville. this is david from friendswood, texas. caller: great program. this is what television should be all about. i think i saw on the history channel that right when andersonville was built, the north stop the prisoner exchange program, and that more than anything else contributed to the suffering, much of the suffering death and andersonville. i was wondering if that is true, and if it is, did the north know
about andersonville? why didn't they reinstitute the prisoner exchange program? i will hang up and listen. thank you. professor gordon: thank you for your question. the exchange program had stopped by the time andersonville was opened. the confederacy had overwhelming numbers of prisoners and know where to put them up. the richmond prisons. they build andersonville to deal with it, it was never meant to hold as many prisoners as it did. -- blame for andersonville there are a lot of blame to go around, certainly. but the confederacy was well aware of how bad the conditions were. i think henry words 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. wender, isecure john
think he was charged with some of the responsibility. he died before the war ends. the north come as far as this question of what was going on on the union side of how much did they know -- there's a book by charles saunders, who is very of thel, not just confederate authorities and how much they knew the conditions here, but of the union authorities, of lincoln and stand. i think it's a compelling case that the war department in particular by the summer of 1864, the new exactly what was going on here, they were getting accounts, and sherman starts to make his way here and to georgia with his campaign towards atlanta. aware, and there is some claims that he allows for one attempt to free the soldiers, and that fails. but there is an acknowledgment by grant, by sherman, by lee and stand that they want to end the
war, they want to win the war, and that's the best way to free the prisoners. and 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. not be negated in this whole question of who is to blame. conditions that one in three men were dying here, and it certainly didn't have to happen. the things that could've been done. but yes, the union made a conscious decision that they and going to fight the war 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 list 32 union soldiers who successfully escaped from andersonville. my distant relative was one of them, his name was john eager. -- it wanted by chance wondered by chance of she knew anything about him. he ended up dying in ohio at a military hospital in 1878. she had leg injuries that he developed at andersonville. i know it's a long shot, i wondered if she knew anything about him. i'm sorry, idon: 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. 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. need more work on this. we don't know as much about these stories. i don't know, i'm sorry about your relative. becausere escapes low of the structure, were there other factors? professor gordon: as far as how will heart is -- how hard it was? to be question of blame it. they had this place pretty well fortified. 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? ,ut 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 re--- unleashed on them because of haverhill problems. -- behavioral problems. the men were consular looking for a way to get out, there was digging. there were dogs that were used. and of course, there's the infamous deadline. -- 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. ,t 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. i was wondering threat the beginning of the war, there was a policy of prisoner exchange. and when granting 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 grants and stanton started to appreciate that if these changes -- exchanges continued, that confederates exchanged would go back into the armies. of it also was this question -- the confederacy refused with the emancipation proclamation was passed, and became law on january 1, 1863, the confederacy refused to treat black troops as prisoners of war. asy declared black troops fugitives. fugitive slaves. this also played a role in the policy decisions. and so 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. 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. 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? professor gordon: i was behind, so i don't know. i don't know they had a flag
-- and sorry,been don't know. bit about us a little what we hear the modern-day military how a soldier francis -- 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. of one example i can think ,s 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 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. now, he will marry, he will have a family, he will leave connecticut. he moved to a highland sells insurance. a my all accounts coming is 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. ,nother 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 journalism. it's not really clear why. he has a successful journalism career. like robert kellogg, it seems like he is unwell 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. just here in andersonville, but what happened when the. in 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. to me, those are two examples of ways, they in many are 18 years old, 19 years old, they start of same place but they veer off in different ways are in the cap 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. professor leslie gordon,
are those who died in andersonville who are unknown? best estimatesn: are there's about 500 unknown graves here. right after the prison closed, and then going forward in the , there was ad 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, 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. it, 13,500 ofbout them aren't named -- are named. his 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. foodouth had a shortage of at certain times, i think. 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
beencertainly could have able to provide food for the prisoners. getting goodoblems quality food to the prisoners. i think that's where the question of who is responsible for some of that. henry words, 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 getting really low-quality. talks about the fact that they are not getting any kind of vegetables, that's part of the reason they are getting scurvy. made aearly could have 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 -- the confederacy as a bureaucracy have these issues. the confederacy was agricultural nation, they produced farm goods, but could they get those , whether toerred the rome 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. no ahead. -- go ahead. caller: i was wondering what were the conditions between andersonville and can't 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
research, the own 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 can't -- all campap doug douglas. the northern prisoners were at camp's of instruction or former forts. 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. you'rewatching -- host: watching a market history tv. professor lesley gordon, author of "a broken rest -- 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 take her role, you could accept --ole from the confederates is 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 your whether that meant being a clerk for him, or some specific job you need it 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, 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.
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 died,alk about how they and the day they died, the moment they died. 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. riverdale, georgia. you were on with our guest. thank you. i was involved in the filming of the movie andersonville, i was a confederate soldier. we feel 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. happen aed, it didn't lot, but it happened. it was denied -- in the postwar, most of the survivors would on the- and even see monuments, death before dishonor. memory, there was this compelling desire to not want to mention and remember that anybody had accepted back of offer and served essentially the enemy and accepted the offer to serve in the confederate army. it happened. the 16th connecticut, i found -- not as muchrs feared andersonville, but in florence, someone recently contacted me to show me that he had a list of a few names, pacific names from the roster of and served inted
the south carolina unit. for them, it was a moment of desperation. they really believed it was either take the offer, where they were going to die. i thinks what -- 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 offers. host: michael from camp town, pennsylvania. caller: i have for professor gordon, thoughts about whether or not the andersonville is a of the lincoln's policy of total war of attrition with , and all about the extermination camps and so forth that was later copied by queen victoria.
because was even worse 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 from kazan ski. i'm not a gordon that goes back to john b gordon. 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. -- i was evidence that 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 andersonville, he allows this one raid to come here, it fails. he doesn't want to lose sight of what his bigger prize is. sense thatere was a the confederates were still fighting. georgia, there are signs of weakening. it does become a war of attrition. here, fromnk the men 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.
experience ofe 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. let's hear from frank in atlanta, georgia. professor gordon: -- caller: professor, thank you. i had a great grandmother by the name of joseph walsh was taken prisoner with the massachusetts fifth volunteers. he was taken prisoner by the in 1862 and moved into a cap. -- a camp. , theret know which camp was a great number of volunteers
for massachusetts that were incarcerated. , this given an option 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 tradeerates to apply the -- his trade happen to be hard as 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 area