Every now and then Ancestry throws something at me which both startles and disturbs...this time it is one of Himself's relatives...actually his Grandmothers cousin...who caused me much frantic web searching for more information that I rather wish I hadn't found...
George was his name, and he was born in America after his parents left Norfolk in England to try their luck elsewhere. When George was twenty-two the American Civil War broke out and he enlisted on the Union side.
During the infamous Battle of the Wilderness, George was taken prisoner and sent to probably one of the most notorious Confederate P.O.W. camps...Camp Sumter or Andersonville.
Erected with slave labour, the camp was supposed to have housed the prisoners in wooden barracks but they didn't materialise, so they lived under make shift 'tents' of branches and their overcoats...there was a large patch of marshy land outside the perimeter of the camp which gradually engulfed most of the middle of the area of the rough dwellings where the P.O.W.'s tried to live. What had been a clean small river became a quagmire of mud and human waste...to add to their misery there was little in the way of rations and virtually no medical care.
Of the 45,000 Union soldiers held there for 14 months 13,000 died...mostly from severe starvation...including George. I found some photographs of a few of the men and they were in a worse state than those poor souls from Belsen or Auschwitz...
Some recovered and were able to give evidence at tribunals and in courts of law after the war had ended...the man in overall charge of Andersonville, a Henry Wirz, was held accountable for the suffering endured by the men under his 'care' and was hanged after a trial. It is said his last words before being led to the scaffold were 'I was following orders'...
I suppose George is buried in the enormous graveyard especially opened for those who died in the camp...not for him a spot in a quiet country churchyard.