JF Ptak Science Books Post 1760
While reading about the story of Andersonville Prison I was much taken with a passage from the diary of Sgt. David Kennedy (of the 9th Ohio Cavalry), held at that prison, writing on 9 July 1864:
' Wuld that I was an artist & had the material to paint this camp & all its horrors or the tounge of some eloquent Statesman and had the privilege of expresing my mind to our hon. rulers at Washington, I should gloery to describe this hell on earth where it takes 7 of its occupants to make a shadow.'
Seven men to make one shadow. That does pretty much tell the story of Andersonville. It was known also as Camp Sumter, in Sumter County (Georgia), constructed and then opened in February 1864--quite late in the war--to hold 13,000 Union prisoners. That was a hoepful sentiment and held little planning, as the site held nearly 32,000 prisoners at one time, filled twice beyoind a capacity that even in the best conditions was too high. The prison was ill-conceived, not well made (except for the stockade fence constructed by slave laborers, which was pieced together so well that a person inside the stockade could not see anything whatsoever of the outside world through an imperfect join in the fence). So the view left to the prisoner was of other prisoners in fetid and deplorable states, lumber of the stockade, the poor Earth and disgusting mud of the central section of the stockade fed by a stream and turned into a disease-breeding swamp, and the sky.
The actual photograph (above) and the artist's rendition, clarification, amplification, below:
[Source: Library of Congress. Andersonville prison, Georgia. Group of prisoners. ca. 1864-1865 "Drawing of prisoners among tents, showing starvation, crowding, poor clothing among prisoners."
From "U. S. Navy. Edisto Island. Morris and Folly Islands. Fort Warren, Mass. Andersonville Prison, Miscellaneous." photographic album, p 74 ([Andersonville Prison]).
Of the 45,000 Union soldiers held at the prison in its short life (February 1864-May 1865) nearly one-third of them died, most killed by ill-treatment, malnutrition, exposure, poor sanitary conditions, and starvation.
The map below gives a good view of the size of the swamp ("Whole Content of Stockade 25 1/2 acres, including swamp...")
[Source: Robert Knox Sneden scrapbook (Mss5:7 Sn237:1), Virginia Historical Society. In the Robert Knox Sneden diary, 1861-1865 (v. 5, p. 606). 1 map : pen-and-ink and watercolor ; 18 x 14 cm.]