Updated date:

Andersonville Prison Photos

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.

One of the guard towers at Andersonville Prison.

One of the guard towers at Andersonville Prison.

Pictures Old and New of Andersonville Civil War Prison

In 2010, I visited Andersonville, Georgia to see the museum and national cemetery there honoring the Union prisoners who suffered and died in that place. My personal motive was to find out more about my great-great grandfather who was an Andersonville survivor.

The photos below include ones I took on that visit, plus vintage Andersonville photos from the Civil War and photos by others who visited Andersonville. Hopefully it will give you a mini-tour of this historic site if you are unable to visit it yourself.


Photos Taken during the Civil War of Andersonville

The low fence on the right side was the dead line. Any prisoner who ventured beyond that was immediately shot dead by a guard.

The low fence on the right side was the dead line. Any prisoner who ventured beyond that was immediately shot dead by a guard.

Photo from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress features some of its photo collection on the Zazzle site. Andersonville Prison, GA 1864 by lc_civilwar - photo was taken August 17, 1864.

Very few photos exist from the 1860s showing Andersonville Prison while it was filled with Union prisoners of war. This picture gives you a feeling for the crowded, unsanitary conditions of that time.

No shelter was provided, so the prisoners used bits of canvas, clothing and anything they could to create a place to get out of the broiling southern sun or the winter cold. Even though it was in Georgia, the winter months could be bitterly cold.

Imagine being out in the rain on a chilly December night with the temperature around 40 degrees. Your tattered clothing would be soaking wet. If you had comrades, you could huddle together, trying to preserve some of your body heat.


Thousands Died And Are Buried Nearby

The cemetery shows the horrible toll taken by the conditions in the prison.

The cemetery shows the horrible toll taken by the conditions in the prison.

The many who did not survive the brutal conditions are buried close by in what is now a national cemetery.

The many who did not survive the brutal conditions are buried close by in what is now a national cemetery.

Imagine 30,000 men crowded together on this site. Look up at the stockade & feel their despair.

The photos I took on a sunny day at Andersonville make it hard to imagine the misery of thousands of starving and ill prisoners surrounded by filth, fighting to stay alive for just one more day, then one more day.

— Virginia Allain

Have You Been to Andersonville?

As You Walk around Andersonville, Read the Informative Plaques

andersonville-photos

Imagining My Ancestor in a Civil War Prison

When he first walked into Andersonville, he was a fit soldier, his muscles honed by 2 years of marching from Tennessee to Mississippi to Georgia. Sometimes the troops moved by rail, but often it was by foot.

His uniform showed he was from the 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Hardened by battles and time in camps, he must still have been appalled by the ragged, lice-ridden creatures that surrounded him as he entered the prison stockade.

They asked for news of the war. He knew only his part in it, the recent defeat of the Union troops by Major General Forrest. As a foot soldier, he knew little of the details, other than the hurried march to aid the Union cavalry under attack at Brice's Crossroads.

The heavy shelling of the infantry with grapeshot forced them back across the river. Already worn out by the forced march to the battle, around 1500 were captured during the retreat. He was one of the soldiers captured.

The surprise tactics of the Rebels in Mississippi separated the larger Union forces, leading to the capture of many Yankees. After days traveling on creaky box cars under armed guard, the new arrivals to the prison were exhausted, hungry and apprehensive.

What would be their fate? Hopefully, they would be exchanged soon. Their hopes fell abruptly as they entered the gates of Andersonville Prison.

The condition of the prisoners already inside the stockade horrified the new arrivals. They saw over 30,000 men, emaciated and dressed in tattered remnants of Union blue, now faded and covered in dirt.

How could they survive in a place so filled with filth? There were no arrangements for shelter, no sewage system, skimpy rations, and barely space to lie down to sleep. They must have felt they'd arrived in hell.

He would spend the next 6 months as a prisoner of war in the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

(Originally written for Niume by Virginia Allain, that site no longer exists)

Learn More about Andersonville

  • Andersonville Timeline 1864
    In reading many diaries and books on Andersonville, I've created this timeline. It will help me and others trying to understand their ancestor's experience in this Civil War prison.

Informative Signs Like This Explaine the Scene Before You

Some prisoners assembled tents with whatever they could, but many had no shelter at all from the harsh southern sun or winter weather.

Some prisoners assembled tents with whatever they could, but many had no shelter at all from the harsh southern sun or winter weather.

Read More about It - Andersonville: The Last Depot

The Nation Grieved

Nancy Hardin commented: "I've always found everything about the Civil War fascinating. So many died, the cemeteries are so quiet and sad. We fought each other, brother, father, uncle, nephew, as though we hated the other, and in truth, at that time we did. When it was all over and people came to their senses, the nation grieved and still does to this day."

Read the Sad Details of Andersonville Prison

Background Information on Starvation at Andersonville

  • Starvation at Andersonville Prison

    Andersonville Prison in Georgia was notorious for the starvation suffered by Union soldiers there during the Civil War. Why did it happen and how did the prisoners survive the brutal conditions there?

  • What Is Scorbutus?

    It's an old-fashioned word that you might find describing an American Civil War soldier. Read more about this health problem that caused the deaths of many in years gone by.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Virginia Allain

Tell Me about Your Interest in the Civil War

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on July 25, 2020:

There's a Facebook group that you might find interesting called Descendants of Andersonville Prisoners. Lots of shared info there.

Rocky Heathcock on July 24, 2020:

I had a ancestor at Andersonville I actually had a ancestor fighting on both sides Andersonville was hard to even imagine

Mike Renken on July 30, 2019:

Have had 2 members of our church who were swedish immigrants that were in the civil war and never came back to our community

Theresa on June 23, 2018:

My interest comes from my family history and their involvement in the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War etc.

MASSE BERNARD on June 05, 2018:

When I was a student, I studied in an exchange program for on year in Davidson College N.C.Then I came back to France ;

It was a great time to study civil war.So thanks to Virginia for her report.

I am sure to have lived the civil war in a preceding life

gamecheathub on November 05, 2011:

Fascinating to understand the history and see current photos of the site. Super cool.

Tonie Cook from USA on October 27, 2011:

Excellent source of historical information. I had family in the Civil War, too.

jseven lm on October 27, 2011:

Such sad history of our country and I only hope and pray that we never see war on our soil or any again, for that matter. Great info.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on October 27, 2011:

@happynutritionist: You are right, there was a separate movie called Andersonville. I lumped it in with the books above, but should separate it and feature it.

happynutritionist on October 27, 2011:

I think I remember a movie called Andersonville...or am I remembering that part of "The Civil War" series that Ken Burns did? I bought that for my husband because we were both fascinated by it, talk about pictures and stories, we learned more than we ever did in school...nice lens.

:

Diane Cass from New York on October 27, 2011:

I recently discovered that my g-g-g-grandfather on my mother's side was also in the Civil War. He was stationed at a fort near New York City for his entire term. I still have more to learn about him.

Margaret Schaut from Detroit on October 27, 2011:

I love old places like this. We have an old fort that is fascinating, and the digs they've done have turned up some interesting things.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on October 27, 2011:

That was indeed some harsh conditions.