Thursday, December 31, 2009

Events this weekend at Stones River

Infantry demonstrations, living history displays and a special lantern tour mark the 147th anniversary of the bloody battle in middle Tennessee. • Details of NPS events

Woman's mission: To bring humble hero deserved recognition

An evening at the movies launched Karin Stocking’s campaign to bring a true American hero back from obscurity.

When Stocking, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, emerged from “Gettysburg” her inital resolve was to rehabilitate the grave of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, the remarkable battlefield general who saved the Union on two sultry July days in 1863.

“The mausoleum was in deplorable condition,” says Stocking, who with her father raised $15,000 and stabilized the Norristown, Pa., grave site.

But she wanted to do something bigger: Educate people about Hancock, a proud patriot, soldier, National Rifle Association president and family man.

The 1995 rededication of the mausoleum gave birth to the non-profit W.S. Hancock Society, which continues its mission through its Web site and activities.

Hancock was a modest local boy who made it big. Very big. It may have started with his height and name. His parents chose the name to honor Gen. Winfield Scott of the War of 1812 fame.

But Hancock earned another name on his own. Dubbed “Hancock the Superb” for his bravery, the popular general served four decades in the U.S. Army. He was grievously wounded at Gettysburg, where his personal leadership at the center of the Federal line saved the day. During the war, his Second Corps captured more prisoners, more colors and suffered more casualties than the entire rest of the Army of the Potomac.

His leadership extended beyond the battlefield. As the Democratic nominee for president in 1880. Hancock lost to Republican James Garfield, another Civil War veteran, in the closest popular vote in U.S. history.

Hancock, popular in his lifetime, died in New York City in February 1886 of complications from diabetes, just shy of his 62nd birthday. Former President Hayes said succinctly, "he was through-and-through pure gold."

Hancock was buried with his daughter at the mausoleum in Norristown’s Montgomery Cemetery.

“Norristown is a transient place,” says Stocking, who quickly learned that few locals knew who Hancock was. The executive assistant at a pharmaceutical company and her husband, Bruce, live in West Norriton, about 10 minutes from Hancock’s resting place.

Since its inception, the society, which has about 100 members, has performed living histories and conducted memorial services at the gravesite and at the Hancock equestrian statue at the Gettysburg battlefield. It launched a Facebook page this year.

The society tells the curious about a humble man who didn’t want his name placed on the outside of his mausoleum. Someone else placed it there. In his plans, Hancock ordered no description of his military heroics and run for the presidency.

A lentel near his crypt simply said “W.S. Hancock” rather than the full name Winfield Scott Hancock or the general designation. In respect of his wishes, and his humility, the society adopted a similar name.

“He was not the kind of person who beat his chest,” says Stocking. “He fell into obscurity.”

Stocking is doing genealogical research on Hancock, who has very few blood descendants. His two children died before he did. He was survived by several grandchildren.

Interestingly, Hancock and his wife are buried hundreds of miles from each other. Almira Russell Hancock’s remains are in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Mo., along with the couple’s son.

The Hancock Society currently is taking bids to make repairs at Bellefontaine.

The group also is taking part in a June 2010 event, “Once Upon a Time in Montgomery County,” which will tell the history of an area rich with Indian, German, Quaker and immigrant influence. And did you know that Norristown is the home of the zeppelin sandwich?

Hancock’s failure to write memoirs may have added to his obscurity. Author Mark Twain supported Almira’s book on her husband, which touts the Hancock-Lewis Armistead friendship detailed in Michael Shaara’s popular “The Killer Angels.”

But Stocking says the friendship between Hancock and the Confederate general who died in Pickett’s charge is overstated. Hancock actually was a bigger pal with Confederate Gen. Henry Heth, who also fought at Gettysburg.

A recent book, David Shultz’s “Battle Between the Farm Lanes” details Hancock’s actions at Gettysburg.

“He is not commanding from the rear” like other generals at the battle, said Stocking.

Hancock did well at Antietam in 1862 and at the Wilderness in 1864. His only significant military defeat was at Petersburg, and he left battlefield service in November 1864.

One historian said Hancock’s “tactical skill had won him the quick admiration of adversaries who had come to know him as the 'Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac.’”

After the war, as a military governor, he gained controversy by restoring rights to white residents of Texas and Louisiana. The order was unpopular with Congress, resulting in Hancock's being relieved of command and transferred to the Dakota District.

I asked Stocking about a couple of popular myths about Hancock, an imposing, charismatic man.

Legend states he always wore a clean white shirt in battle.

Research does not prove that assertion, Stocking says.

How about his reputation for pronounced profanity?

Yes, he was a superb swearer.

“It’s probably due to the fact that he was from Norristown,” Stocking says with a laugh.

More info on the organization
W.S. Hancock Society’s Facebook page

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Need a quick photo fix?

The Library of Congress' Civil War photo collection is more than a little impressive. I came across this page today while browsing. It's a timeline of the war told through photos. It's a little clunky in navigation. Wish they were able to present the images in a slideshow. Regardless, there are some fascinating photos from across the South. • See photos

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rare items to be auctioned Friday

A Georgia auction company will sell items belonging to a Union officer. In addition to documents signed by several presidents, there’s an 1873 Colt single-action pistol that’s never been fired and a Derringer musket, believed to be one of only 50 ever made. • Article

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gunsmith works on Civil War-era guns

Recalling how well things went when he set up a Civil War gun-repair tent during the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1997, John G. Zimmerman decided to buy a building in Harpers Ferry, West Va., and specialize in repairing and restoring antique weapons. • Article

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Planning an event in Georgia?

The Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails is putting together its 2010 online calendar and is seeking submissions from the state’s towns and organizations.

Executive director Steve Longcrier says the group wants to promote Civil War festivals, re-enactments, living histories, ghost tours, walks, lectures, memorial events and more.
“Please feel free to include any events related to the pre-war antebellum and/or post-war Reconstruction years, as this history is also crucial to understanding why the war occurred,” Longcrier says.

Send events to slongcrier@hotmail.com or Steve Longcrier

Sample and the type of info that is needed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Channel yields sunken Union vessel

The Battle of Galveston came alive for Bob Gearhart with a dive into 46 feet of visually impenetrable channel water. • Article

Friday, December 25, 2009

The life and times of Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast was by all accounts an extraordinary person. In his lifetime, Nast worked as a reporter who covered the Garibaldi campaign in Italy and the American Civil War, and was a political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly and illustrator of the famous Christmas story, “The Night Before Christmas.” • Article

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Most-clicked Picket articles this year

First off, thanks to everyone for visiting this site in 2009. It's been a labor of love, so pardon me if I have strayed into the wrong topics. Thought I'd share the most-viewed items. Of course, feel free to read them by clicking through the archives at right. Merry Christmas from the Picket! May you and yours have a great 2010.

1. 42 Union artillery shells found south of Atlanta (October)

2. Preview of Bummers '09, immersion event remembering March to the Sea. (October)

3. Articles on the legacy of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet. (Sept and Oct.)

4. Saturday's photos from the Battle of Atlanta re-enactments (September)

5. Interview with author Jim Miles about Sherman, March to the Sea. (October)

6. New sports complex at Atlanta school will destroy 110 yards of trenches. (October)

7. Citadel finds "Big Red" flag (October)

8. Unknown dead remembered by SCV, others in Trion, Ga. (September)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Corporate lessons from the battlefield

A senior AT&T official takes executives to Gettysburg to learn about leadership and team-building. • Article

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Digging may yield remains, artifacts

A Western Kentucky historian is calling for the site of a defunct hotel to be excavated and searched for any relics from the 1864 Civil War Battle of Paducah. • Article

Monday, December 21, 2009

Licensed guide's favorite Gettysburg spots

Tennessee native Bobby Housch grew up near two of the Civil War’s bloodiest battlefields.

So I asked how come he and 150 other licensed battlefield guides operate at Gettysburg, while there are none at his hometown of Chattanooga-Chickamauga.

Simple.

“More people visit Gettysburg than all [Civil War] parks combined.”

Gettysburg has these three advantages: Robert E. Lee, the Gettysburg Address and tens of millions of people who live within a few hours of the town.

“I still think that Chickamauga and Chattanooga were the greatest battles ever fought,” says Housch.

Regardless, the teacher has a passion for educating visitors about the war. He leads tours daily during the summer and on weekends the rest of the year.

Housch, who manages the popular Gettysburg Daily Web site, lists these venues among his favorites:

--Little Round Top, immortalized in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Killer Angels.”

--Culp’s Hill, a critical part of the Union defensive line. “It’s so historic but hardly anyone goes there.”

--First day battle, where Union generals Reynolds and Buford slowed the Confederate advance into town.

--Confederate battle line along Seminary Ridge.

Housch, whose ancestors fought and died for the South, won’t do ghost tours, a growing market at Gettysburg and other Civil War sites.

He appreciates both the casual and well-informed visitor.

“The Killer Angels” has had a major impact. “It gets people here to Gettysburg,” says Housch.

“Historical novels are great primers for people who want to get harder history.”

Gettysburg Daily

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stillness lingers at Appomattox

Appomattox is a name that evokes different images to different people. A rare few may have no idea as to its significance. But to history buffs, Appomattox represents the sharp turn in the Civil War that brought the bloody carnage to its end. • Article

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Man can't bring musket replicas to school

A school district in Vermont won't make exception to allow history buff to show historically accurate uniform and firearms to students. "I’m not an advocate of bringing guns into school willy-nilly at all," James Dassatti said. • Article

Friday, December 18, 2009

Atlanta Cyclorama still packs power

I sauntered down to the Atlanta Cyclorama the other day. I wanted to see how the painting was holding up and to see the other exhibits in its museum.

Numbers alone impress me when I gaze at the massive painting showing a crucial moment in the July 1864 Battle of Atlanta. It’s 42 feet tall and is 358 in circumference. It covers 16,000 square feet and required 18,000 gallons to complete at Milwaukee studios in 1886.

For those of you who have never seen the Cyclorama, you start first with a film on the Atlanta Campaign. Once in the main room, you sit on a huge carpeted seating area that revolves 360 degrees to take in the story, complete with taped narration and sounds of furious battle.

Yakingma L. Robinson, who handles marketing and public relations, gave a very good overview of the battle and cyclorama/diorama to our small group of visitors on a rainy weekday.

Robinson (left) told me is trying to draw more minorities and tweeners at the Grant Park venue, which was repaired and renovated in the early 1980s and undergoes periodic cleaning.

I posed a few questions to him this week.

Q. How many visitors do you have annually?
A. At the present time we cater to about 87,000 guests annually.

Q. What is your next planned event?
A. Our next planned event will take place in January. We are still working out the details but, we will have a presenter here Dr. King birthday weekend. We are also planning to have some school kids come out and do a tribute to our new Mayor-Elect Kasim Reed.

Q. Any recent or planned additions to your collections?
A. At the moment there are no planned additions to the facility or collections.

Q. Any trends in visitors?
A. As far as trends go, the biggest trend that takes place at the Cyclorama are with the students; they drive business sales from mid-September to late November and from late February until late July. Whether they come with their respective schools, summer camp programs, or accompanied by family; kids are the core group of individuals that make the customer base for the Cyclorama.

Q. Who else is coming?
A. Aside from the children/student patronage at the Atlanta Cyclorama we have a large senior following. It is prudent that our facility is equipped for elderly and handicapped patrons as we cater to their needs to move around the facility in a safe and comfortable manner on a daily basis. This mixture of seniors and kids has had a good impact on the generational aspect of visitors that continue to come to the Cyclorama by way of previous family member visitation. We also have a great deal of international visitors that patronize the Cyclorama, which mostly come in the Spring and Summer months however, with the increase of different nationalities in Atlanta due to the growth of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, I have seen growth in this area of visitors through out the year!

Q. What they are most interested in?
A. Generally people that are fans of the Cyclorama are fans of the “Battle of Atlanta” painting and diorama featuring Clark Gable. In addition, the Locomotive Texas that was a part of the “Great Locomotive Chase.” What’s most interesting, though, is how much people that are not intimately aware / involved in the Civil War or grew up somewhere like California and were only minimally taught about the Civil War in school are blown away by the imagery and what they learn throughout the entire facility.

More about the Atlanta Cyclorama

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Presidents who made case for a just war

It’s almost a cliché to cite the superficial similarities between Abraham Lincoln and President Obama — two tall, thin men from Illinois with a gift for language forced by circumstance to be wartime presidents. But reading historian James McPherson’s book about Lincoln makes one wonder about some striking similarities in the nature of the challenges confronting both, especially as Mr. Obama makes the war in Afghanistan the signal challenge of his presidency. • Article

Your Gettysburg fix: One photo a day

For those who can’t get enough of Gettysburg, Bobby Housch’s Web site is perhaps the next best thing to being there.

Since February 2008, gettysburgdaily.com has posted at least one photo or video a day of the park or southern Pennsylvania town that draws nearly 1.7 million visitors annually.

“It’s a labor of love,” says Housch (pronounced “Hoosh’), 50, a Gettysburg resident and an 8th-grade history teacher in nearby Hanover.

His two sons help Housch produce Gettysburg Daily, which has grown in popularity and garners nearly 2,000 page views a day. He gets a boost from his impressive archives and referrals from Google Images.

One day you may hear a Licensed Battlefield Guide describe the action on Day 2 of the July 1863 battle. On another you may see the restoration of an old farm or a panoramic view.

“It’s pretty much what I am interested in,” says Housch, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native who has lived in Gettysburg for about 10 years.

The Web site also has bios and information on Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, who for $55 provide visitors to the national military park a two-hour guided tour.

Housch, who is a guide on weekends and during the summer, told me it is important to present history to young visitors visually – in person or through the Web.

“People say, ‘show me what happened on this spot.’ ”

So most every Sunday afternoon, Housch sets out with video and still cameras to tell a story. He has 1,400 monuments, great vistas and the town to choose from.

Although his site might attract some casually interested in history, it’s more likely to update those who are very much interested in the significance of the battle and the current appearance of the park.

“People tell me wish they could live here all the time,” says Housch.

Gettysburg Daily does tweak a few noses. It’s documented the loss of trees that were around at the time of the battle and laments examples of commercial bad taste.

The site also accepts nominations and picks a winner of the “Sickles Award,” which every July 2 celebrates “dumb moves at Gettysburg.” It’s named for the Union general who blundered by moving his troops into a dangerous position, causing a gap in the Union line.

The 2009 winner was the construction of a hotel right next to graves on South Cemetery Hill.

Photos Courtesy of Gettysburg Daily

Gettysburg Daily
Sickles Award: 2010

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Secession studies, out in the open

Secession remains a sensitive subject on campus because of its racial connotations — so much so that Southern scholars quietly gather on their own to study and discuss it. • Article

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rhett Butler and the Atlanta Cyclorama

I saw Rhett Butler today. He didn’t look so good.

He was lying on the ground. His eyes had no focus. Blood covered part of his abdomen.

I surveyed the sad scene while visiting the Atlanta Cyclorama. At 42 feet tall and 358 feet in circumference, the cyclorama is said to be the largest in the world. It shows the Battle of Atlanta, at which Confederate forces were repulsed after ferocious fighting during the Atlanta Campaign.

The display includes a diorama with small figures and battle features. The diorama neatly melds into the painting, giving some 3D perspective to the masterful work of art.

How did Rhett get there?

The premiere of “Gone With the Wind” was 70 years ago tonight at Loew’s Grand Theater on Peachtree Street. The city had seen nothing like it. Celebrity appearances and parades marked the three-day event.

On the morning of Dec. 15, 1939, Mayor William B. Hartsfield escorted Clark Gable, who portrayed Butler, and his actress wife, Carole Lombard, to the cyclorama at Grant Park.

Gable joked that "the only thing missing was a likeness of Rhett Butler."

Hartsfield later had artist Weis Snell make a figure of a dying Union soldier with a face painted to resemble Butler.

A film at the cyclorama describes the fall of Atlanta to Gen. William Sherman in 1864. It reminded me of a line Butler utters to Scarlett O’Hara when portions of the city were in chaos and flames.

“Take a good look my dear. It's an historic moment you can tell your grandchildren about - how you watched the Old South fall one night.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

A move to save Chancellorsville property

It was a notable event when the nonprofit Civil War Preservation Trust announced, despite the awful economy, it would try to raise more than $2 million to buy an 85-acre tract at Chancellorsville. Historian Robert Krick, who knows the battlefield better than anyone, calls it a "preservation coup." The maps and details of the fundraising effort are available at the trust's Web site. • Details

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'A Civil War Christmas' musical uplifting

Civil War songs, carols and spirituals fill the stage in a musical that is running in Palo Alto, Calif. Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln and other historical figures rub shoulders with lesser-known and fictional folk. Paula Vogel's "Civil War" takes place on Christmas Eve in 1864, when hope was returning. President Lincoln had been re-elected. Ulysses S. Grant was winning the war and Gen. Sherman had just taken Savannah. It would also be Lincoln's last Christmas. John Wilkes Booth and his confederates were plotting elsewhere in the city. • Review

Friday, December 11, 2009

Confederate wall of honor to be dedicated

Three thousand soldiers rest in the Marietta (Ga.) Confederate Cemetery, but nobody knows who lies in most of the graves. Thanks to the foundation that helps maintain the cemetery, a thousand of those soldiers’ names have been rescued from the fog of war and the passage of time. • Article

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friends of Andersonville: 'People need to remember' the plight of prisoners

Their haggard faces show a world-weary expression that belies their relatively few years.

Filmed in stark monochromatic color, the young actors recite lines from diaries and letters at Andersonville prison that truly convey the horror of life inside the Civil War stockade.

The film is the starting point for your visit to the National Prisoner War of Museum (above) and Andersonville National Historic Site, scene of the Civil War Confederate prison and the national cemetery.

The Friends of Andersonville, a non-profit group, paid for the movie.

“People need to remember” the plight of American prisoners in all wars, says John Bates, president of the group.

The Friends of Andersonville promote visits to the site through billboards and brochures.

It also provides significant assistance to the National Park Service by paying many of the expenses for many events at Andersonville, including Memorial Day, volunteer efforts and the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day in September.

Bates, who lives in Hickory, N.C., says the related Andersonville Trust’s $1.3 million endowment is the backbone of financial support. Many of the donations are bequests from veterans and former prisoners of war.

During the Civil War, 45,000 Union prisoners were housed at the Camp Sumter in South Georgia. Nearly 13,000 succumbed to horrible conditions.

When he lived in nearby Americus, Bates was part of the Sumter Players, a local theatrical group that used to portray the trial of prison commander Maj. Henry Wirz, who was executed after the war.

The drama was held on the edge of the actual prison site. Testimony at the trial conveyed the prisoners' misery.

“In the moonlight there sure was an eerie feeling,” Bates recalls of hearing the testimony while looking at the 26 acres Camp Sumter occupied in 1864-65.

The trust’s principal goal for 2010 is to support the construction of the POW Legacy Traveling Exhibit. The historic site is working to produce a major traveling exhibition based on the current thematic exhibit halls of the National POW Museum.

The Andersonville Trust hopes to donate up to $60,000 for the $400,000 project, Bates says.

More info on the Friends of Andersonville and the Andersonville Trust

Event this Saturday at Fort McAllister

A muster, battle and candle lantern tour will be held this Saturday at this fort outside of Savannah, Ga. It fell to Union forces during the March to the Sea. • Details

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Re-enactor rings bell for Salvation Army

"I got a lot of compliments," David Thompson says of his uniform. "Some of the people thought I was a Salvation Army individual. I said, 'no, this is a Civil War re-enactment outfit.'"

Civil War re-enacting piqued Thompson's interest six years ago while attending a re-enactment in Lamoni, Iowa. In particular, he likes to carry on the tradition that the Third Iowa was known for: singing around the campfires. • Article

Monday, December 7, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's last trip

As the bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln's birth comes to a close, the Chicago Tribune looks at his last trip, a two-week river cruise that ended just days before an assassin's bullet would find him in Ford's Theatre. • Article

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skulking, desertion plagued South

Every day, while young men were fighting and dying on battlefields throughout the South, Lancaster saw able-bodied males avoiding service in the Confederate army through a variety of schemes that included hiring substitutes (many of whom were ineligible to serve in the first place) and hiding within the workshops of the Confederate government. • Article

Friday, December 4, 2009

Confederate tag coming to Sunshine State?

The Confederate Flag could show up on Florida license tags. Four years after the idea first proposed, the legislature has not acted. That has prompted the Sons of the Confederate Veterans to sue. Not everyone is in love with the idea. • Article

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lincoln 'Conspirator' bonnet in Ga. museum

Mary Surratt’s executioners wanted her to be shielded from the sun and heat in the moments before she was hanged.

Shortly after 1 p.m. on July 7, 1865, the 42-year-old boardinghouse owner and three others were marched to the gallows at the Washington Arsenal Penitentiary. They had been convicted in the conspiracy to kill President Abraham Lincoln, who was shot dead nearly three months before at Ford’s Theatre.

After the visibly distraught Mrs. Surratt was virtually carried by soldiers up the steps to the top of the gallows, her quilted black bonnet was removed and an umbrella raised to protect her from the sun as the death warrants were read.

Mary Surratt's last words, spoken to a guard as he put the noose around her neck, were purported to be, "please don't let me fall.”

Moments later, with the temperatures near 100 degrees, the four condemned were swinging on ropes. They were buried only a few feet away.

The case of Mary Surratt, the first woman executed by the federal government, will be back in the national spotlight soon. Robert Redford is wrapping up filming of “The Conspirator” in Savannah, Ga. It examines her role, disputed to this day.

The bonnet came into the possession of Union Maj. Thomas Eckert (left), chief of the military telegraph department. Eckert, interestingly, was a friend of Lincoln’s and been asked to attend the theater with the president that fateful April night. His boss forbade him from going, in order that he would complete some work. Eckerd also contended that he supplied paper and a telegraph office for Lincoln to write the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Eckert eventually become president of Western Union.

Many of Eckert’s personal belongings are now housed in the small Drummer Boy Museum in Andersonville, which houses a variety of Civil War memorabilia.

The black bonnet sits on a mannequin head in one case, with a brief description.

Surratt’s defenders say she knew little or nothing of the plot and never should have been executed. Conspirator Lewis Powell spent his last hours pleading for her life. “Mrs. Surratt is innocent. She doesn't deserve to die with the rest of us,” he said before he was hanged.

Drummer Boy Museum curator Cynthia StormCaller told me someone from “The Conspirator” called to ensure bonnet worn by Robin Penn Wright, who portrays Surratt, was historically accurate.

The museum, not far from the site of the notorious Civil War prison, features weapons and about 15 authentic uniforms, including those of two drummer boys. I also was drawn to a diorama of Camp Sumter, as the prison was then known.

It's still hard to imagine 33,000 souls residing in 26 acres, beset by sun, dysentery and certain death if they came too close to the stockade fence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicory and the Southern soldier

Here's your morning cup of coffee. A beverage guru talks about chicory, a coffee substitute that gained popularity in the South during the Civil War. Let's see if it suits his palate. • Article

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Andersonville prison commandant Wirz: Monster in gray or fall guy?

I traveled today to Andersonville to see the site of the prison, the national cemetery and the National Prisoner of War Museum.

(I’ll be writing and posting photos about my journey in the next few days.)

The unimaginable horror of the place permeated my thoughts on the ride home. And I couldn’t get Maj. Henry Wirz, the Confederate commandant of Fort Sumter, out of my mind.

Wirz was accused of murder and conspiracy and was hanged in November 1865. History books say he was a murderous villain who dehumanized and starved thousands of Union prisoners at the middle Georgia stockade. About 13,000 Federals died at Andersonville.

Defenders say he was a scapegoat for conditions common at prisons run by both sides during the Civil War. A sign and monument in the hamlet of Andersonville proclaim his innocence, arguing he did the best he could under the circumstances. More than 200 Confederate guards also died at Camp Sumter.

Academic treatises, movies and writings have argued whether he was a monster or a victim. The links below are a sampling of what is on the Web. One is the Armchair General forum; the other is brief account of the prison and his rule.

What do you think of Maj. Henry Wirz? Did he get what he deserved? Please share your comments below.

Background on the prison and Henry Wirz.
See forum on the executed officer