Historic Markers Across Georgia

Prisoner Burials

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: Andersonville NHS, Andersonville, GA
County: Macon
Coordinates: N 32° 12.100    W 084° 07.910
  32.20166666    -84.13183333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMWJ03


Prisoner Burials

The prisoners headstones are only inches apart. As the death rate in Andersonville escalated to 100 per day, officials abandoned the use of pine box coffins and had the bodies buried shoulder to shoulder and trenches.

At first only numbered stakes marked the prisoners graves. The dead might have remained unidentified except for the efforts of Dorence Atwater, a former prisoner.

Prison officials assigned Dorence Atwater to keep records of the dead. Hoping to notify bereaved relatives after the war, Atwater made a second copy of the death list, which he smuggled out in the lining of his jacket. When he accompanied Clara Barton to Andersonville in July 1865, they were able to match his list with the numbered stakes. Each prisoner could then be honored by name.

"If a man died in good clothes he was buried nearly naked. The living needed apparel; the dead none."
--G. E. Reynolds, 86th Ohio infantry, August 3, 1864


For more information on Andersonville Prison (Camp Sumter):
Historical background about the infamous Andersonville Prison.
angelfire - Andersonville Civil War Prison
wikipedia - Andersonville Prison, February 1864 - April 1865
U.S. National Park Service - Andersonville National Historic Site
thewildgeese - Father Peter Whelan: Serving the Blue and the Gray
Wikipedia - Father Peter Whelan