150th Anniversary of Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison
Camp Sumter (Andersonville Prison)

Nearly 13,000 Civil War soldiers died on the ground you’re looking at over a 14-month period (1864-1865). This is the site of Camp Sumter, more commonly known as Andersonville Prison.

Most of the dead succumbed to disease and starvation (see below). The month of June 1864 saw 22 days of rain. Prisoner Warren Goss remembered, “it was miserably wet, dirty, and disagreeable with unpleasant odors. Neither could one get accustomed to, or be able to blunt the senses to, the existence of so much misery.”

Another prisoner wrote, “dead and yet, breathing.”

The white posts mark the outline of the 26.5 acre prison camp.

Andersonville unknown
Some 500 graves at Andersonville are marked unknown.


Andersonville National Cemetery
Andersonville National Cemetery


Below are the documented causes of death of prisoners held at Camp Sumter (Andersonville Prison), along with definitions.

Abscess – Swollen, inflamed area in body tissues with localized collection of pus.

Anasarca – Abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissues and cavities of the body, resulting in swelling. Also known as dropsy.

Ascites – Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.

Asphyxia – Loss of consciousness due to suffocation; inadequate oxygen, and too much carbon dioxide.

Catarrh – Inflammation of mucus membranes of nose and throat causing increased flow of mucus. (Common cold).

Constipation – Condition in which feces are hard and elimination is infrequent and difficult.

Diarrhea – Frequent, loose bowel movements. Symptoms of other diseases.

Diphtheria – Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.

Dysentery – Various intestinal inflammations characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.

Enteritis – Inflammation of intestines.

Erysipelas – Acute infectious disease of skin or mucus membranes. Characterized by local inflammation and fever.

Gastritis – Inflammation of stomach.

Hemorrhoids – Painful swelling of vein in region of the anus, often with bleeding.

Hepatitis – Inflammation of liver, often accompanied by fever and jaundice.

Hydrocele – Accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.

Icterus – Characterized by yellowish skin, eyes, and urine. Also known as jaundice.

Laryngitis – Inflammation of the larynx.

Nephritis – Acute or chronic disease of kidneys, characterized by inflammation and degeneration.

Pleurisy – Inflammation of membranes covering lungs and lining of chest cavity. Characterized by difficult and painful breathing. Also known as pleuritis.

Rubeola – Measles.

Scurvy – Disease resulting from deficiency of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Characterized by weakness, spongy gums, and bleeding from mucus membranes. Also known as scorbutus.

Smallpox – Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by prolonged fever, vomiting, and pustular skin eruptions.

Tonsillitis – Inflammation of tonsils.

Typhoid – Acute infections disease, characterized by fever and diarrhea.

Ulcus – Ulcer.

Source: U.S. National Park Service

2 Responses to 150th Anniversary of Andersonville Prison

  1. Jo Anne McCloud Myers May 26, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Doug, your blog is very real and very sobering. War is sanitized for consumption and glorified for greedy purposes by those who use it without conscience. War is ugly and evil. We have a Civil War cemetery nearby and the young, in particular, often seem surprised and even disappointed when they learn that all of the 140 or so men in the graves died from disease, not war wounds.

  2. Celeste Bracewell May 26, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I was seven when we went to Andersonville and remember still the description of the conditions. There is no glory, just agonizing loss. This is how war should be remembered.