TwHP Lessons

Prisoner of War Camp

[Cover Photo] Andersonville Cemetery
(National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection)


ohn McElroy wrote in 1864 of the beginning of his stay at the Confederacy's largest prison camp, Andersonville Prison, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, in southwest Georgia:

Five hundred men moved silently toward the gates that would shut out life and hope for most of them forever. Quarter of a mile from the railroad we came into a massive palisade with great squared logs standing upright in the ground. Fires blazed up and showed us a section of these and two massive wooden gates with heavy iron hinges and bolts. They swung open as we stood there and we passed through into the space beyond. We were at Andersonville.¹

Approximately 45,000 prisoners would enter Andersonville's gates during its 14-month existence. Nearly 13,000 would never see freedom again.

¹John McElroy, This Was Andersonville, Ray Meredith, ed. (New York: Fairfax Press, 1979), 5.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Civil War prison camps
 2. Location of Andersonville, Georgia

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Andersonville Prison
 2. Life as a Prisoner

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Andersonville Prison site
 2. Andersonville Prison, August 1864
 3. Andersonville Prison, 1864
 4. Andersonville Prison, 1864

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Family History
 2. Money in Prison
 3. The Raiders' Trial
 4. Prisoner of War Camps
 5. Interview a Former Prisoner of War

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Andersonville National
Historic Site

This lesson is based on the Andersonville National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.




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