tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 14, 2015 6:00am-8:01am EDT
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. 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? 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 andersonville is 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. 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. 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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
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. 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
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? 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 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. 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. medley.ally -- >> ♪
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. 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 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, 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. terrible,ity rate was he said, the weather was unbearable, and men's hearts were thig --
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, 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 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 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. 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 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, 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 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, where he died. 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 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." ♪
[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 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 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, 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. 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 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 , 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 . 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 dysentery.ie , 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 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. , 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 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 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 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 state of georgia, and god bless the united states of america. [applause]
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 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. 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 colors for a second time, and please remain standing.
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 our national parks. we are pleased to consider this our first centennial event for andersonville national historic site.
♪ >> 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.