I will not deny that Andersonville (“Hell and the Survivor,” October/November issue) in 1864 was a vastly overcrowded prison pen where disease and malnutrition took a frightful toll, but to say that it was “the worst” is to fly in the face of history. The Federal prisons at Elrnira, New York, and Point Lookout, Maryland, produced higher percentages of death than did Andersonville, with less reason for doing so. The Confederate prisoners also suffered from disease, malnutrition, and sadistic guards, but in a land of abundance, while those in Southern prisons suffered more due to a breakdown of transportation and supply.
Let us hear no more of Andersonville’s horrors and Henry Wirz’s unfounded crimes, for to cast stones at the South’s prison system is but to bury Northern self-righteousness under an avalanche of dead men’s bones.
In fact, the introduction to Charles Hopkins’s account of his imprisonment states that “contemporary historians are inclined to believe that the Southern prison camps were no worse than their Northern counterparts…”