Andersonville Journey

Edward F. Roberts, Author White Mane Publishing Company $29.95 (302p) ISBN 978-1-57249-059-8
Andersonville. The very name of our Civil War's most infamous prison is enough to cause dissension in the ranks of both scholars and buffs of the conflict. From February 1864 to April 1865, more than 13,000 Union prisoners of war died in this Georgia hellhole. Captain Henry Wirz, its commandant, was arrested, tried and found guilty of war crimes, then became the first American executed for such crimes. Roberts realizes that the sensational nature of the vituperative literature about Andersonville makes historical research difficult at best. Although not nearly as scholarly as some other recent books on the subject (e.g., Bill Marvel's Andersonville: The Last Depot), Roberts's book does a creditable job of presenting the sordid history of the pestilence-ridden prison. He takes the reader through the war years, then examines the arrest, trial and execution of Wirz. The heroic Dorence Atwater, the Yankee prisoner who worked as a hospital clerk and secretly compiled a burial list of prisoners, is featured, followed by the government's attempts to squash public knowledge of his death roll. Clara Barton, the legendary nurse, helped Atwater mark the graves. Roberts then chronicles the postwar years, including controversial reunions at the prison that infuriated local citizens, monumentalizing by Northern states and the erection of a monument to Wirz in the nearby town of Andersonville. A number of minor factual errors do not detract from the book's overall effectiveness at presenting both sides of a historical quagmire. Illustrations and maps complement the text. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-1-57249-180-9
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