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Henry Wirz gehang vir moord

Henry Wirz gehang vir moord

Op 10 November 1865 word Henry Wirz, 'n Switserse immigrant en die bevelvoerder van die Andersonville -gevangenis in Georgië, gehang vir die moord op soldate wat tydens die burgeroorlog daar opgesluit was.

Wirz is in 1823 in Switserland gebore en verhuis na die Verenigde State in 1849. Hy woon in die suide, hoofsaaklik in Louisiana, en word 'n dokter. Toe die burgeroorlog uitbreek, het hy by die Vierde Louisiana -bataljon aangesluit. Na die Eerste Slag van Bull Run, Virginia, in Julie 1861, bewaak Wirz gevangenes in Richmond, Virginia, en word opgemerk deur inspekteur -generaal John Winder. Winder het Wirz na sy departement oorgeplaas, en Wirz het die res van die konflik saam met krygsgevangenes deurgebring. Hy beveel 'n gevangenis in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; begeleide gevangenes rondom die Konfederasie; uitruilings met die Unie hanteer; en is gewond in 'n koetsongeluk. Nadat hy teruggekeer het na diens, het hy na Europa gereis en waarskynlik boodskappe aan die Konfederale gesante gestuur. Toe Wirz vroeg in 1864 in die Konfederasie terugkom, het hy die verantwoordelikheid vir die Andersonville -gevangenis, amptelik bekend as Camp Sumter, gekry.

Terwyl beide kante gevangenes onder haglike omstandighede opgesluit het, verdien Andersonville spesiale vermelding vir die onmenslike omstandighede waaronder sy gevangenes aangehou is. 'N Opslag het duisende mans op 'n dorre, besoedelde stuk grond gehou. Barakke is beplan, maar nooit gebou nie; die mans het geslaap in 'n tydelike behuising, genaamd 'shebangs', gemaak van afvalhout en komberse wat min beskerming teen die elemente bied. 'N Klein stroompie vloei deur die verbinding en verskaf water aan die soldate van die Unie, maar dit word 'n put van siektes en menslike afval. Erosie wat deur die gevangenes veroorsaak is, het die stroom in 'n groot moeras verander. Die gevangenis was bedoel om 10 000 mans te huisves, maar die Konfederate het dit teen Augustus 1864 met meer as 31 000 gevangenes gepak.

LEES MEER: Andersonville

Wirz het toesig gehou oor 'n operasie waarin duisende gevangenes gesterf het. Gedeeltelik 'n slagoffer van die omstandighede, het hy min hulpbronne gekry, en die Unie het in 1864 die uitruil van gevangenes gestaak. Toe die Konfederasie begin oplos, was voedsel en medisyne vir gevangenes moeilik bekombaar. Toe die woord oor Andersonville uitlek, was Noordelikes geskok. Digter Walt Whitman het van die oorlewendes van die kamp gesien en geskryf: 'Daar is dade, misdade wat vergewe kan word, maar dit is nie onder hulle nie.'

Wirz word aangekla van sameswering om die gesondheid en lewens van soldate van die Unie en die moord te beseer. Sy verhoor begin in Augustus 1865 en duur twee maande. Tydens die verhoor is ongeveer 160 getuies geroep om te getuig. Alhoewel Wirz wel ongeërgd was teenoor Andersonville se gevangenes, was hy deels 'n sondebok en 'n paar bewyse teen hom was heeltemal vervaardig. Hy is skuldig bevind en op 10 November in Washington, DC, ter dood veroordeel, het Wirz na bewering aan die bevelvoerder gesê: 'Ek weet wat bevele is, majoor. Ek word gehang omdat ek hulle gehoorsaam het. ” Die 41-jarige Wirz was een van die min mense wat skuldig bevind en tereggestel is vir misdade wat tydens die burgeroorlog gepleeg is.


Ontstellende FOTO'S toon die BRUTALE werklikheid van teregstellings voor die afskaffing van die doodstraf

Skakel gekopieer

Publieke domein / mediadrumworld.com

Die teregstelling van kaptein Henry Wirz in Washington in November 1865

As u inteken, gebruik ons ​​die inligting wat u verskaf om hierdie nuusbriewe aan u te stuur. Soms bevat dit aanbevelings vir ander verwante nuusbriewe of dienste wat ons aanbied. Ons privaatheidskennisgewing verduidelik meer oor hoe ons u data en u regte gebruik. U kan te eniger tyd u inteken.

Die foto's toon hoe kaptein Henry Wirz in Washington DC gehang word met die Capitol -koepel op die agtergrond, asook ander mans wat in die Verenigde State gehang word.

Ander grusame foto's toon die praktyk van teregstelling wat oor die hele wêreld uitgebrei word, terwyl Kubaanse gevangenes teen 'n muur staan ​​om geskiet te word, afgesnyde koppe van Chinese misdadigers in 'n middedorp op die spel gelaat word en Italiaanse soldate wag om in 1911 twee Arabiese spioene in Tripoli te skiet. .

Die grimmige beelde dien as 'n herinnering aan hoe brutaal die lewe was toe die doodstraf in bykans alle lande in die wêreld van krag was - maar in die 21ste -eeuse staat is die getal gesanksieerde moorde tans op die hoogtepunt van die afgelope drie dekades.

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Die doodstraf het in die Verenigde Koninkryk geëindig toe die The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 in werking getree het, hoewel die doodstraf vir moord tot 1973 in Noord -Ierland oorleef het.

Die wet het die doodstraf vervang met 'n verpligte lewenslange gevangenisstraf.

Die wet het vier ander kapitaalmisdrywe oor die hoof gesien: hoogverraad, "seerowery met geweld" (seerowery met die doel om ernstig te beseer of te veroorsaak), brandstigting in die skeepswerwe van Her Majesty en rsquos en spioenasie, asook ander kapitaalmisdrywe onder militêre wet.

Die doodstraf is eers in 1998 finaal in die Verenigde Koninkryk afgeskaf deur die Wet op Menseregte en die Wet op Misdaad en Wanorde.

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Kubaanse gevangenes staan ​​tou teen 'n muur om in Santiago geskiet te word

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Koppe van onthoofde misdadigers word in 1901 deur rye vasgemaak aan stokke naby West Gate, China

Die laaste teregstellings in die Verenigde Koninkryk was egter in Augustus 1964 weens moord.

Die doodstraf is steeds algemeen in baie lande, waaronder China, Iran, Noord -Korea, Jemen en die VSA, wat die enigste G7 -land is wat nog mense teregstel.

In die jongste syfers wat Amnesty International verskaf het, is minstens 1 634 mense in 2015 in 25 lande tereggestel.

Dit is die hoogste aantal teregstellings wat sedert 1989 aangeteken is. Die meeste teregstellings het in die volgorde in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saoedi -Arabië en die VSA plaasgevind.

Publieke domein / mediadrumworld.com

Italiaanse soldate voer Arabiere tereg op 'n strand tydens die Turco-Italiaanse oorlog

China was steeds die grootste teregstelster ter wêreld, maar die werklike omvang van die doodstraf in China is onbekend, aangesien hierdie gegewens as 'n staatsgeheim beskou word, sluit die syfer van 1,634 die duisende teregstellings wat vermoedelik in China uitgevoer is uit.

As China uitgesluit is, het byna 90% van alle teregstellings in slegs drie lande plaasgevind en Iran, Pakistan en Saoedi -Arabië.


Vakbond- en Konfederale troepe wat as gevangene aan die teenoorgestelde kant gevange geraak het, het teëgekom en na langdurige verblyf in die kampe wat opgerig is om hulle te huisves, gestaak. Nie een van die twee partye het hulself onderskei in die behandeling van sy gevangenes nie, nog 'n weerspieëling van die diepgaande antagonisme wat elke kant vir die ander gevoel het. Van al die gevangenisse waarin siektes, swak kos en wanhoop duisende gevangenes se lewens geëis het, was die een so erg dat sy kommandant verhoor en opgehang is vir oorlogsmisdade na die konflik.

Vandag algemeen bekend as Andersonville, was dit amptelik aangewys as Camp Sumter en is in Februarie 1864 geopen. was min kos en die voedsel wat beskikbaar was, was van 'n swak gehalte. Skeurbuik, wat veroorsaak word deur 'n gebrek aan vitamien C, was groot in die kamp; baie gevangenes het berig dat hulle hul eie tande met hul kaal hande kon trek as gevolg van tandvleis en kake wat deur die siekte verswak is.

In 1864 het dr. James Jones deur die kamp getoer en toestande was so haglik dat hy 'n brief aan die Konfederale Chirurg -generaal waarin die toestande daar was, geskryf het. Sommige verskonings het sedertdien gepostuleer dat die kommandant, Henry Wirz, nie aanspreeklik was vir die hongersnood in die kamp nie, want daar was nie kos om te eet nie, maar dr Jones het in sy brief opgemerk dat Wirz self gesond was, goed gevoed , met toegang tot baie vars vrugte en groente, en blykbaar onverskillig vir die lot van die gevangenes.

Wirz is ook daarvan beskuldig dat hy gevangenes gemartel het. Straf vir oortredings van reëls soos diefstal van voedsel of komberse, insluitend die hang van duime, sweep en handelsmerk. Daar moet op gelet word dat al hierdie strawwe ook teenwoordig was in die strydende leërs van die dag, en diefstal is dikwels gestraf in die leër van die Unie deur die wangedrag op te hang of te skiet.

Wirz is beskuldig van oorlogsmisdade, waaronder die moord op verskeie gevangenes, die fisiese mishandeling van ander, en omdat hy alle gevangenes van kos, water en mediese voorrade en aandag ontneem het. Ondanks die oorweldigende getuienis dat hy nie persoonlik die misdade gepleeg het waarvoor hy beskuldig is nie en 'n verdere getuienis dat die tekort nie sy ontstaan ​​was nie, is hy deur 'n militêre tribunaal skuldig bevind en deur die hang wat op 10 November 1865 uitgevoer is, ter dood veroordeel.


Etiese alarms

Op hierdie datum in 1865 het Henry Wirz, die Konfederale kommandant van die berugte Andersonville krygsgevangekamp in Georgië, is opgehang na die oorlogsmisdaadverhoor wat die presedent geword het vir die Neurenberg -verhore na die Tweede Wêreldoorlog.

Ek ken die verhaal van kaptein Wirz en die omstandighede van sy verhoor goed, nadat ek Saul Levitt se groot etiese toneelstuk "The Andersonville Trial" twee keer geregisseer het. Nie dat Levitt se spel 'n akkurate weergawe van die verhoor was nie, maar Wirz se dramatiese verhooggetuienis wat homself verdedig het, het nooit gebeur nie. Levitt het egter die diepe skynheiligheid van Wirz se sondebok na vore gebring na die oorwinning van die Unie. Die gruweldade in Andersonville was nie net erger as in sommige gevangeniskampe in die noorde nie, maar Lincoln en Grant het doelbewus die krisis uitgelok om sulke kampe deur die Suide te bestuur toe hulle die taktiese besluit geneem het om nie met gevangenisuitruilings deel te neem nie.

Ek is nie seker Leavitt se drama uit 1960 was of word gewoonlik uitgevoer soos hy bedoel het nie: op Broadway word Wirz as 'n monster uitgebeeld, en die militêre aanklaer, regter advokaat Chipman, word deur George C. Scott as 'n wraak op kruisvaarder. Soos ek in die praktyk as regisseur was, het ek na die teks en die historiese verslag gekyk, en ek het ontdek dat die teks van The Andersonville Trial dieselfde argument voer as Wirz in die verdedigingsopdrag van sy prokureur: hy word tereggestel ter wille van die presiese optrede wat sy teregstellers sou skuldig gewees het as hulle in sy onmoontlike posisie was.

Wirz is aangekla van moord en sameswering om die gesondheid en lewens van Unie -soldate en moord te beseer. Die aanklag was onsin, maar die openbare verontwaardiging oor afgryslike foto's van die skeletale Unie -soldate nadat die gevangenes vrygelaat is, was sodanig dat simboliese vergelding onvermydelik gelyk het. Wirz was die perfekte patsy: hy was 'n Switserse immigrant met 'n dik aksent en stoïs en arrogant van aard. Een of ander bewys van berou of jammerte vir die gevangenes onder sy sorg kan sy lewe gered het, maar hy kon niks opdoen nie. Hy het in sy houding duidelik gemaak dat hy homself as 'n slagoffer van morele geluk beskou het, wat hy inderdaad was.

Die twee maande lange verhoor van Wirz het in Augustus 1865 begin, en net soos die kangoeroe -hofverhoor van die samesweerders van Lincoln, was die uitslag nooit in twyfel nie: dit was 'n skouverhoor. 160 getuies het getuig, en sommige van die getuienis teen die verweerder is vervaardig. Dat die militêre tribunaal Wirz skuldig sou bevind, was nooit in twyfel nie, en sommige kan sê dat 'n paneel vakbondbeamptes moontlik nie die billikste beoordelaars is van 'n vyandelike offisier wat aangekla word van moord en mishandeling van hul kamerade nie. Hy is op 10 November gehang op die plek waar die Amerikaanse hooggeregshof nou staan.

Kaptein Wirz staan ​​op die steier terwyl hy hom gereed maak om te sterf, en onthef die hoof van die offisier wat 'n mate van afkeer toon vir die taak wat hy moes toesig hou. 'Ek weet wat die bevele is, majoor, ” het die gevangene gesê. ” Ek word opgehang omdat ek hulle gehoorsaam het. ”


JOHN BANKS ' BORGLIKE OORLOGSBLOG

Die skare het ook die beroemde burgeroorlogsfotograaf Alexander Gardner ingesluit, wat ten minste vyf glasplaatfoto's opgeneem het wat by nadere ondersoek merkwaardige besonderhede onthul van die hang van die voormalige bevelvoerder van die Andersonville -gevangenis.

Vier dae tevore, op 6 November 1865, is Wirz skuldig bevind na 'n langdurige verhoor van 'opsetlike wreedheid' en moord op Unie -soldate in die berugte krygsgevangenekamp in Georgië. Onder die 13 000 mans wat in Andersonville gesterf het, was 290 soldate uit Connecticut, waaronder byna 100 uit die 16de Connecticut, wat op 20 April 1864 in Plymouth, NC, gevange geneem is. Oorlewendes Austin Fuller en Wallace Woodford van die 16de Connecticut was in so ellendige omstandighede. op voorwaarde dat die privaat persone in hul geboortestad Farmington en Avon gesterf het kort nadat hulle vrygelaat is.

Of Wirz inderdaad skuldig was aan die misdade waarmee hy beskuldig is, bly selfs vandag nog omstrede, maar daar is geen twyfel dat die in Switserland gebore soldaat in 1865 met besondere vyandskap in die noorde beskou is nie. "Elke koerant waarna hy (tydens sy verhoor) gekyk het, het gehuil vir sy teregstelling, "het die Courant korrespondent geskryf.

Die toneel in die Old Capitol -gevangenis, kort voordat Henry Wirz gehang is 10 November 1865. Dit is een
van ten minste vyf beelde van die ophangsel wat geneem is deur Alexander Gardner. (Versameling van die Burgeroorlog van Library of Congress)

Noordelike koerante soos die Hartford Courant bedek
Wirz se verhoor en ekstensief hang.
"Hang die skelm!" soldate skree van bome buite die tronk toe Wirz die oggend op die steier staan. Die 42-jarige voormalige rebellebeampte het net af en toe geluister, die Courant berig, soos majoor George.B. Russell lees die doodsbevel. 'N Priester het 'n kruisbeeld op Wirz se lippe geplaas, miskien 'n tydelike verligting van die pyn wat moet het die ellendes baie siel. "

"Wat sy gedagtes was tydens hierdie kort oomblikke, was daar niks in sy uitdrukking om te verraai nie," het die Courant berig, "maar die toeskouer in wie se verbeelding die verhaal van hierdie man se wreedhede onuitwisbaar verbrand is, soos met 'n strykyster, kan die stampvol tronkpen met sy skurftevretende, verhongerde, deur ongediertes besmette slagoffers die geskreeu van die honde deur die bos en moerasse, waar arme, ontsnapende vlugtelinge genoeg skuilplek gehad het vir die onuitspreeklike gruwels van hulle bevalling. "

Buite van Old Capitol -gevangenis. (Collection of Civil War Collection)

Kort voordat die hangertjie se strop om sy nek gesit is, het Wirz deur Russell gevra of hy enige laaste woorde het. 'Ek het niks om vir die publiek te sê nie,' het hy gesê. "en vir jou, majoor, ek sal sê dat ek onskuldig sterf, maar ek het net een keer om te sterf, en my hoop is in die toekoms." Wirz kyk na 'onbeskofte onverskilligheid' en 'n glimlag op sy gesig terwyl 'n swart kappie oor sy kop geplaas word, het die korrespondent van die koerant in Connecticut opgemerk.

Om 10:32 is die valdeur oopgemaak en Wirz na sy dood gestuur.

'Daar was 'n paar krampagtige stuiptrekkings in die bors, 'n effense beweging van die ledemate,' het die New York Times berig, "en alles was verby." Wirz word 14 minute lank laat hang en is afgesny en na 'n hospitaal geneem vir 'n lykskouing. Gardner het ook 'n beeld van die lykskouing gemaak, maar die oorlogsdepartement het beveel dat dit nie van die publiek gehou word nie.

'Wat 'n dag van oordeel kom wanneer al hierdie duiwels in menslike gedaante tot die finale antwoord vir hul misdade gebring sal word,' het die Courant afgesluit in die dekking van Wirz se hang. "Elke verminkte en gewonde soldaat sal daar wees, elke huilende weduwee, hulpelose wees en elke treurende suster sal 'n getuie wees, en elke verhonger en vergiftig gevangene sal syne grootmaak benige hand in oordeel."

(Vir 'n uitstekende ontleding van die Wirz -hangende foto's, kyk na hierdie pos op Andy Hall's Dead Confederates -blog.)


Andersonville, bewaarder Wirz, verhoor vir oorlogsmisdade

Henry Wirz, voormalige kommandant van die Andersonville -gevangenis in Georgië, is deur die Noorde verheerlik en deur die Suide tot martelaar verklaar, die enigste Konfederale soldaat wat deur die Verenigde State tereggestel is weens oorlogsmisdade.

Tientalle boeke is geskryf oor die Switserse Wirz, wat met 'n vrou uit Kentucky getroud is en in die weste van Kentucky gewoon het, waar hy 'n paar jaar lank medisyne beoefen het voor die oorlog begin het.

Alle verhale draai oor die gruwels van die Andersonville -gevangenis, hoewel die sterftesyfer (27 persent) baie naby was aan die Elmira -gevangenis in New York (24,4 persent). Beide fasiliteite was oorvol en onderbeman, en die plaaslike bevolking van beide gebiede is deur rompslomp verhinder om die gevangenes by te staan.

Alhoewel die Yankee -gevangenes aan dieselfde gebrek aan voedsel gely het as die suidelike soldate, was Elmira baie kos beskikbaar, maar dit was nie beskikbaar nie. Konfederale gevangenes het gebuk gegaan onder die ysige koue in Elmira, terwyl Yankee -gevangenes gebak het in die verstikkende hitte van Georgië.

'N Verhoor is gehou vir Wirz in September 1865. Hy het brig. Genl. John Henry Winder, hoof -generaal van die Konfederale weermag. Wirz is ter dood veroordeel, maar talle skrywers het getuig van 'n gebrek aan bewyse sowel as die twyfelagtige waarheid van sommige van die getuies.

Die verhoor het drie maande geduur en is periodiek uitgestel weens die kleinste tegniese aspekte. Daar word gesê dat verslae wat vir Wirz gunstig is, verbied is om as bewyse ingedien te word, terwyl almal teen hom toegelaat is.

Wirz is op 13 aanklagte verhoor, maar in elk word die betrokke gevangene as onbekende naam gelys. ” Minstens twee voorvalle het plaasgevind terwyl Wirz met siekteverlof was en weg van die fasiliteit was. Die formaliteite is egter uitgevoer, en Wirz is uitgevoer deur op te hang.

Kort voor sy teregstelling skryf Wirz 'n brief uit die Ou Capitol -gevangenis in Washington aan sy prokureur, Louis Schade.

“Dit is ongetwyfeld die laaste keer dat ek myself tot u rig, ” het Wirz gesê. Wat ek gereeld vir u gesê het, herhaal ek. Aanvaar my dank, my opregte dank, vir alles wat u vir my gedoen het. Mag God u beloon, ek kan nie. Ek het nog iets om van u te vra, en ek is vol vertroue dat u nie sal weier om my sterwende versoek te ontvang nie. Help asseblief my arm gesin - my liewe vrou en kinders.

Oorlog, die wreedste, het alles van my afgevee, en vandag is my vrou en kinders bedelaars. My lewe word as versoening geëis. Ek is bereid om dit te gee en hoop dat ek na 'n rukkie anders beoordeel sal word as wat ek nou is. As iemand tot my verligting behoort te kom, is dit die mense van die Suide vir wie ek alles opgeoffer het. Ek weet dat jy my sal verskoon dat ek jou weer pla. Vaarwel, liewe meneer. Mag God u seën. ”

Alhoewel Wirz al meer as 140 jaar dood is, verkondig baie steeds sy onskuld. 'N Ondersteunende afstammeling van die oorspronklike Wirz -familie in Switserland, kolonel Heinrich Wirz, onderneem gereeld hierheen om voort te gaan veg vir wat hy as die uiteindelike geregtigheid vir sy voorouer beskou. Alhoewel kapt. (Hy eens die rang van majoor beklee het) die lewe en dood van Wirz se geskiedenis en historici al lankal geïntrigeer het, is dit die verhaal van sy vrou, Elizabeth Savells Wirz, wat uiteindelik volgende Saterdag afgesluit sal word, met 'n merker wat opgedra is aan die lang -vergete weduwee.

Heinrich Wirz kom mevrou Nancy Hitt van Louisville te hulp, wat gesoek het na mevrou Wirz se begraafplaas, saam met ander plaaslike genealoë. Die soektog is uiteindelik beperk tot Trigg County, Ky., Daarna na die Fuller -familie begraafplaas by die Boyd Hill Church in die klein stad Linton. Alhoewel die kerk in 1983 gebrand het, is die goed versorgde begraafplaas nog steeds daar, net langs snelweg 164.

Navorsing het aangedui dat Elizabeth Wirz waarskynlik die dogter van Daniel en Elizabeth Rhodes Savells was en dat sy waarskynlik in 1824 gebore is.

Toe Elizabeth 22 was, trou sy met Alfred C. Wolfe, wat 'n paar jaar later oorlede is, en laat haar met twee klein kinders, Susan Jane Wolfe en Cornelia A. Wolfe. Terwyl sy in Trigg County woon, ontmoet Elizabeth en word hy verlief op die jong dokter Henry Wirz, wat medisyne in die omgewing beoefen het, en hulle is op 27 Mei 1854 getroud.

Wirz het die gesin na Millikens Bend, La, verhuis, waar hy gehuur is om siek en beseerde slawe op die Marshall -plantasie te versorg. Sy gesin het gegroei met die toevoeging van Cora Lee Wirz, gebore voor hulle Kentucky verlaat het. 'N Ander kind is glo jonk dood. Wirz het suksesvol in Louisiana geoefen, maar toe die oproep vir konfederale soldate lui, het hy by Kompanjie A, 4de Bataljon van Louisiana Volunteers aangesluit.

Sy regterarm is verpletter tydens die Slag van Seven Pines in Virginia. Onverskrokke leer hy skryf met sy linkerhand. Hy is bevorder vir dapperheid op die slagveld en is as kaptein aangewys. Omdat sy militêre diens beperk is deur sy beserings, is hy gedetailleerd aangestel om die militêre gevangenis in Richmond te neem en is hy later na Tuscaloosa, Ala., Gestuur om die gevangenis daar te lei.

Hy is in 1862 na Parys en Berlyn as gevolmagtigde van die spesiale minister op afspraak van president Jefferson Davis, en met sy terugkeer is hy aangestel om Camp Sumter -gevangenis in Andersonville, Ga, te bestuur.

Sy diens daar begin op 12 April 1864. Die datum is interessant omdat een van sy vermeende misdade op 6 Februarie 1864 twee maande voor sy aankoms plaasgevind het. Sy ampstermyn in Andersonville was 'n bietjie minder as 'n jaar. Dit was genoeg om hom op te hang.

Elizabeth Wirz het haar man bygestaan ​​tydens die moeilike dae van sy opsluiting, verhoor en vonnisoplegging. Sy het by hom gewoon tydens sy ampstermyn as Andersonville -bewaarder en was deeglik bewus van die gebrek aan voedsel wat die gevangenes gely het omdat haar gesin ook min kos gehad het. Haar dogter Cora was 10 jaar oud ten tyde van die teregstelling, en sy het lewendige herinneringe aan die gebeure behou.

Elizabeth het tydens die maande van gevangenisstraf min besoekstyd saam met haar man toegelaat, en haar versoek dat sy lyk ná sy dood aan die gesin terugbesorg word, is ook geweier. Daar was geen formele begrafnis nie, die oorskot is eenvoudig in 'n gat in die grond gestort, vermoedelik naby die Army War College naby Hains Point in die distrik.

Daar word algemeen geglo dat Wirz die aand voor sy teregstelling genader is deur 'n geheime verteenwoordiger van die Oorlogsdepartement wat 'n volledige uitstel gebied het as hy sou sweer dat die Konfederale president Davis aan die hoof was van 'n sameswering om gevangenes van die Unie te vermoor. Selfs voor die dood, het Wirz dit ten sterkste geweier.

Hierdie voorval is genoem in 'n brief van Davis by Beauvoir, mej., Geskryf op 15 Oktober 1888 aan prokureur Schade:

“Geagte Meneer: Ek het gereeld met 'n treffende spyt gevoel dat die suidelike publiek nog nooit aan die martelaar, majoor Wirz, reg laat geskied het nie. Met die begeerte om iets te doen om wakker te word met inagneming van sy geheue, skryf ek om u te vra om die omstandighede van die besoek aan hom die aand voor sy teregstelling, toe hy versoek is, so volledig as moontlik te gee. die aanbod van vergifnis as hy my sou straf, en sodoende homself vryspreek van aanklagte waarvan hy onskuldig was, en waarmee ek geen verband gehad het nie. ”

Miskien is die sterkste verweer van die voormalige bewaarder en die grootste getuienis van sy vervolging tydens die verhoor gegee deur James Madison Page, wat die ware verhaal van Andersonville -gevangenis - 'n verdediging van majoor Henry Wirz ” in 1908 geskryf en gepubliseer het.

Wat die herhaling van Page en die feite en foute van die verhoor versterk, is die identifikasie onder sy naam - “Late 2de luitenant, Kompanjie A, Sesde Michigan Kavalerie. 8221 soos hy uitgebeeld word, en die twyfelagtige militêre tribunaal wat sy lot verseël het.

In hoofstuk vier, getiteld “Wirz ’s Attorney ’s Final Word, ” Page quotes uitgebreid uit 'n brief gerig aan “ aan die Amerikaanse publiek, ” gedateer 4 April 1867, terwyl Schade bereid was om die Verenigde State te verlaat State:

“ 'n Sterflike man het selde meer gely as die vriendlose en verlate man. Maar wie is verantwoordelik vir die talle lewens wat in Andersonville en in die suidelike gevangenisse verlore gegaan het? Die vraag is nog nie heeltemal afgehandel nie, maar die geskiedenis sal nog leer op wie se kop die skuld vir die geofferde hekatombes van mense geplaas moet word. Dit was beslis nie die arme Wirz se skuld nie, toe die gevangenes van die Unie weens die gebrek aan medisyne as 'n teenstrydigheid van oorlog verklaar is.

Hoe gereeld het ons tydens die oorlog gelees dat dames wat na die suide gaan, deur die owerheid van die Unie gearresteer en in die Ou Capitol -gevangenis geplaas is, omdat egte en ander medisyne in hul klere gevind is! Ons vloot het die binnedring van mediese winkels uit die see verhinder en ons troepe het herhaaldelik dwelmwinkels en selfs die voorraad van privaat dokters in die Suide vernietig. So het die tekort aan medisyne oral in die suide algemeen geword.

Dat die bepalings in die suide skaars was, sal niemand verbaas as daar onthou word hoe die oorlog gevoer is nie. Generaal Sheridan spog in sy verslag dat hy alleen in die Shenandoah -vallei meer as tweeduisend skure gevul met koring en mielies en al die meulens in die hele land verbrand het, dat hy alle fabrieke vernietig het en elke dier, selfs pluimvee, doodgemaak of verjaag het. wat kan bydra tot menslike lewensonderhoud. ”

Schade het bygevoeg: Die Konfederale owerhede, bewus van hul onvermoë om die gevangenes in stand te hou, het die Noordelike agente in kennis gestel van die groot sterfte en dringend versoek dat die gevangenes uitgeruil moet word, selfs sonder inagneming van die oorskot wat die Konfederate op die ruilrol van voormalige uitruilings - dit wil sê man vir man. Maar ons oorlogsdepartement het nie tot so 'n uitruil ingestem nie. Hulle wou nie geraamtes vir gesonde mans uitruil nie. ’ ”

Elizabeth Wirz keer terug na Trigg County, Ky, met haar kinders en woon daar tot haar dood.

Uiteindelik, in 1869, het Schade daarin geslaag om die regering te dwing om die oorblyfsels van Wirz terug te gee, en dit lyk asof gedeeltes van sy lyk in 'n mahonie -kis geplaas is wat by die Mount Olivet -begraafplaas in die distrik begrawe is, die kop, regterhand en ruggraat het ontbreek , alhoewel Schade persoonlik aan president Andrew Johnson geskryf het en gevra het dat die hele oorskot aan die gesin vir begrafnis voorsien word. Wirz ’s bly rus naby dié van 'n ander kollaterale slagoffer van die era, Mary Surratt, tereggestel in verband met die moord op Abraham Lincoln.

Die terrein is slegs 'n paar kilometer van die plek waar die teregstelling uitgevoer is. Ironies genoeg het die ophang van Henry Wirz, na sy parodie op 'n verhoor, plaasgevind waar die Amerikaanse hooggeregshof nou staan.

Interessant genoeg, selfs na die begrafnis by Mount Olivet, was daar steeds geen begrafnis nie. Dit sou jare duur voordat die Episcopal Church Office of Burial uiteindelik oor die graf van Henry Wirz gelees is. Eerwaarde Alistair Anderson van Frederick, Md., Was uiteindelik verantwoordelik vir die werk deur die Jefferson Davis Sons van die Confederate Veterans Camp No. 305 in Maryland om 'n groot merker daar te laat plaas, en daarna 'n Southern Cross of Honor. Al hierdie formaliteite het op een of ander manier aan sy vrou ontsnap, Elizabeth, haar liggaam het in Trigg County gebly.

Die Georgia -afdeling van die United Daughters of the Confederacy het in Mei 1908 'n merker vir Wirz op die Andersonville -gevangenis opgerig, maar tot onlangs was die begraafplaas van Elizabeth Wirz onbekend en ongemerk. Met die ywer van mev Hitt en die onwrikbare toewyding van die Mollie Morehead -hoofstuk van die United Daughters of the Confederacy, is 'n geldinsamelingspoging aangewend om 'n groot granietmerker op te rig wat haar naam dra.

Wirz het vier agterkleinseuns wat in Louisiana woon: Perrin, Robert, William en John Watkins, sommige sal na verwagting die grafteken van Elizabeth Wirz bywoon, saam met Heinrich Wirz, sy agterkleinkind, wat die reis vanuit sy huis sal onderneem in Bremgarten, Switserland.

Toekomstige geslagte sal die laaste rusplek kan vind van die dapper vrou van die beleërde bewaarder, haar graf wat nou gemerk is in die klein begraafplaas in Linton, Ky.

Martha M. Boltz dra gereeld by tot die Burgeroorlog -blad. Sy is 'n lid van die Montgomery County Civil War Round Table.


ExecutedToday.com

Op hierdie datum in 1865 is Henry Wirz in Washington, DC opgehang vir die bestuur van 'n berugte Konfederale gevangeniskamp.

Wirz, 'n in Switserland gebore dokter (“Henrich ” was die regte handvatsel) wat tydens die begin van die burgeroorlog in Louisiana begin oefen het, het Wirz blykbaar in die gevangeniswagte geland toe 'n oorlogsbesering hom ongeskik gelaat het voorste linies.

Maar dit was die fiksheid in die noordelike weermag wat die toneel sou plaas vir sy omstrede ophanging.

Die voordeel van die noorde in mans en materiaal het die Unie -strategie gevorm soos die oorlog vorder, en dit het uiteindelik veroorsaak dat die Unie die uitruil van gevangenes gestaak het. Om slagoffers vir slagoffers uit te ruil was 'n wenstrategie op die slagveld, so waarom moet u 'n man vir 'n man na u vyand terugbesorg? Buitendien,

[Grant] het gesê dat ek met hom saamstem dat daar by die uitruil van gevangenes geen manne geskik is om in ons leër in te gaan nie, en elke soldaat wat ons aan die Konfederate gegee het, het onmiddellik in hulle diens gegaan, sodat die uitruil feitlik soveel hulp vir hulle was en niks vir ons nie.

Benjamin Butler (ons het hom al voorheen ontmoet)

Soos wat dit ontwerp is, het die Suide laat in die oorlog al hoe meer krygsgevangenes begin ophoop om te onderhou met sy steeds gespanne hulpbronne. En as die uitruil uit was, het dit eintlik net een vorm van “ release ” gelaat.

Andersonville — amptelik, Camp Sumter, geleë naby die klein dorpie Andersonville in Georgia, is eers in 1864 gestig, maar het vir die jaar aansienlike bekendheid in die noordelike propaganda gekry en die verandering wat Wirz bestuur het. Die gevangenes het dit ook nie baie geniet nie.

Sou ek dat ek 'n kunstenaar was, die materiaal het om al hierdie gruwels van die kamp te skilder of 'n welsprekende staatsman se toorn te hê, en ek het die voorreg gehad om my gedagtes uit te spreek tot ons eer. regeerders in Washington, sou ek dit moedeloos maak om hierdie hel op aarde te beskryf, waar dit 7 van sy inwoners nodig het om 'n skaduwee te maak.

–Union prisonier dagboek, Julie 1864. Let op die gevangene se woede oor Washington — wie se weiering om te ruil natuurlik sy gestrande krygsgevangenes woedend maak

Uit ongeveer 45 000 gevangenes wat tydens sy bestaan ​​in Andersonville aangehou is (nie almal op een slag nie), het byna 13 000 beswyk aan siektes en ondervoeding.* Na die oorlog het foto's van vermorste oorlewendes ontstoke (noordelike) publieke opinie, al teerlik oor Abraham Lincoln ’s sluipmoord. Walt Whitman het oor Andersonville geskryf,

Daar is dade, misdade wat vergewe kan word, maar dit is nie onder hulle nie. Dit steil sy oortreders in die swartste, ontkomende, eindelose verdoemenis.

Verdoeming kom natuurlik by hoër magte, maar die Noorde wou iemand om vir Andersonville op hierdie sterflike spoel te antwoord. Die opvolger van Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, het die klagtes teen die Konfederale President Jefferson Davis en sy sekretaris van die oorlog, James Seddon, ontken en het die groot Amerikaanse tradisie agtergelaat, en Heinrich Wirz hou die sak vas. **

Die verhoor het 'n onmiskenbare aspek van victor ’s se geregtigheid. & Dolk Selfs by die galg het die wagte van die Unie gesing, “Wirz, onthou Andersonville! Die ophanging kon die man se nek nie breek nie, en hy wurg terwyl die gesang voortgaan.

Suider -pogings om die verhaal van Andersonville te hervorm, het in die leeftyd van die tydgenote van Wirz begin, hierdie omvangryke bundel wat die aanklagte ondersteun, beantwoord Jefferson Davis in terme wat opvallend kontemporêr klink:

So long as Southern leaders continue to distort history (and rekindle embers in order to make the opportunity for distorting it), so long will there rise up defenders of the truth of history … To deny the horrors of Andersonville is to deny there was a rebellion. Both are historic facts placed beyond the realm of doubt.

But of course, it does not require denying the horrors of Andersonville to notice the circumstances — the privation of the entire South late in the war — and to wonder that Wirz and Wirz alone was held to account. Plenty of people think he got a bum rap.


Pro-Wirz marker in Andersonville, Ga. (Click for easier-on-the-eyes version, reading in part, “Had he been an angel from heaven, he could not have changed the pitiful tale of privation and hunger unless he had possessed the power to repeat the miracle of the loaves and fishes”). (cc) image from Mark D L.

Recommended for general reading: the UMKC Famous Trials page on this case, several of whose pages have been linked in this entry. A number of nineteenth-century texts by (or citing) Andersonville survivors are available from Google books, including:

Since this is a controversy of the Civil War — and one that can be engaged without having to get into that whole slavery thing — there have been thousands of published pages written about it, with many more sure to come in future years.


False Witness: The Trial of Henry Wirz

Allegations are not facts, and they frequently prove to be false. Politics, corruption, bribery, greed, revenge, and blind ideology are often the seeds of false witness that produce character assassination and murder. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 resulted in the judicial murder of twenty people based on the testimony of false and hysterical witnesses. This is the history of the judicial murder of Henry Wirz in 1865, using a false witness and a military commission that was really a “hanging jury.”

Henry Wirz was a Swiss immigrant, who settled in Louisiana before the Civil War. He enlisted in the Confederate Army and by 1864 held the rank of Captain. Captain (later Major) Henry Wirz was appointed Commandant of the Confederate Prisoner of War (POW) camp at Andersonville, Georgia, a few months after it was established early in 1864. During its existence in 1864 and 1865, it was the largest Confederate prison, holding at one time nearly 33,000 Union POWs. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers there during its existence nearly 13,000 died. Most of these died of diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, small pox, scurvy, and hospital gangrene. Dysentery and diarrhea alone accounted for 4,500 deaths from March to August 1864.

Wirz’s conviction and execution as a war criminal ranks as one of the most shameful miscarriages of legal justice in American history. After failing to link Confederate President Jefferson Davis to the Lincoln assassination, the Judge Advocate General of the Army sought to link Davis with the alleged war crimes at Andersonville along with Robert E. Lee, Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon, and Wirz. Lee’s name was dropped form the final indictment. Wirz was pressured to save his own life by implicating Davis, but he adamantly denied the accusation against Davis, and refused to save his own life with a lie.

At the insistence of Radical Republicans in Congress, eager to punish the South and considerably more influential after the assassination of the more moderate Lincoln, Wirz was refused a jury trial. He would be tried by a military commission.

Wirz’s civilian defense lawyers argued that the charges against Wirz were unconstitutionally vague and indefinite. From thirteen specific allegations of murder, not a single murder victim was named in the charges. These murders were supposed to have taken place in the presence of many witnesses. Yet although there were carefully recorded lists of those who died at Andersonville, no names of alleged murder victims were given. The defense motion was denied without comment. After all defense motions were denied, three of the five defense counsels withdrew from the case.

The prosecution strategy was to create a parade of horrors on the terrible conditions at Andersonville. The disease, malnutrition, overcrowding, misery, and death were described in moving detail. The Prosecuting Attorney, Col. Chipman, introduced as evidence Wirz’s letters to the Confederate Department of Prisons to show Wirz’s knowledge of conditions. But instead of showing a conspiracy to mistreat Union soldiers, these letters showed that the Confederate Government, despite all its problems late in the war, continued to regulate and inspect its prisons with the purpose of improving their conditions. Wirz’s own letters to Richmond were filled with pleas for more food, tents, clothing, medicine, and supplies.

Over 160 witnesses were called for the prosecution. Of these, 145 testified that they had no knowledge of Wirz ever killing or mistreating a prisoner. One prisoner gave the name of a prisoner Wirz had allegedly killed, but the date of the alleged murder did not correspond to any of the dates alleged in the indictment, so the indictment was changed to match to testimony.

The star prosecution witness was a man called Felix de la Baume. He testified that he personally saw Wirz shoot men. After the testimony, but before the trial was completed, he was given a commendation for a “zealous testimony” signed by all the Commission members and was given a job in the Department of the Interior. After the trial ended, he was identified by veterans of the 7th New York as a deserter. They got de la Baume fired, at which time he admitted that he had committed perjury in the Wirz trial.

Prosecutor Chipman exercised extraordinary control over the entire proceedings. He required that all defense witnesses be interviewed by him before testifying, and determined whether they would testify. Several key defense witnesses were not allowed to testify, and one was arrested and jailed on presenting himself. When the defense attorneys objected to this, the Commission upheld Chipman without comment.

The defense attorneys showed that the Confederate Government did everything possible to exchange prisoners, but Secretary of War Stanton refused because prisoner exchange might be a military advantage to the numerically smaller Confederate Army. Despite Confederate pleas that they were unable to sustain the prisoners, Stanton refused the exchanges. He also refused requested humanitarian shipments of medical supplies to the prisoners on the ground that these supplies might fall into the hands of the Confederate Army and help sustain their war efforts. Wirz paroled a party of four prisoners to go to Washington, but Stanton would not listen to their pleas.

The Commission refused to hear any evidence by the defense on Southern offers to exchange prisoners and ruled such evidence irrelevant. The U. S. War Department’s statistics showed more Southern prisoners died in prison camps than Northern prisoners, and that the death rate of Confederate soldiers in Northern camps was 12% versus 9% for Union solders in Confederate camps. This evidence was also kept out as irrelevant.

The defense was allowed to show, however, that Confederate guards at Andersonville had the same quantity and quality of rations as the prisoners, and the death rate of the guards was approximately the same as the prisoners. The 68 defense witnesses were former prisoners and their relatives. The consensus was that Wirz was a kind hearted man, anguished by the terrible conditions in the prison, who did all he could to alleviate the prisoners’ suffering. A Catholic priest also gave testimony favorable to Wirz.

In November 1864, the South unilaterally released 13,000 prisoners who were seriously ill to the United States. The majority of these were from Andersonville. In February 1865, Wirz released 3,000 prisoners who were well enough to travel on their own to the Federal Commander at Jacksonville, Florida. They were refused and returned to Andersonville.

At the conclusion of the trial, the defense was denied a request for time to prepare their closing argument. Upon this denial, the remaining two defense attorneys quit the case in frustration and protest. The prosecution presented both their case and that of the defense.

On October, 24, 1865, the Commission gave a verdict of guilty of murder and conspiracy to harm Union prisoners, and Wirz was sentenced to be hanged. Union Judge Advocate General Holt, who had gathered evidence against Wirz, in his review, described Wirz as a “demon” whose work of death caused him “savage orgies” of enjoyment. After this show trial and hanging the rest of the indictments were dropped.

The highly acclaimed Ken Burns 1990 PBS documentary on the Civil War took the position of the Commission. But here is what Henry Wirz said on November 10, 1865, as he stood on the gallows:

“I go before my God, the Almighty God. He will judge between us. I am innocent, and I will die like a man.”

Unfortunately, false witness is still rampant in the American media and politics today.

Principal trial details for this article were extracted from papers at the University of Missouri Law School.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Mike Scruggs, Author and Columnist

Mike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths en Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.

He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.


By April 1864 African American troops had distinguished themselves in multiple operations of the Union army, and Confederate rage over their use was mounting. The Confederate Congress had passed a law declaring that captured black soldiers were insurrectionists and liable to an automatic death sentence. The law required a trial to establish guilt, many Southern commanders considered legal procedures to be inconvenient under the circumstances.

Fort Pillow stood north of Memphis on a bluff, originally built by the Confederate Army and by 1864 occupied by Union troops. In the spring of 1864 a cavalry force of 7,000 Confederates under the command of Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest raided the area of western Tennessee and southern Kentucky, intent on taking as many prisoners as possible for potential exchange, as well as capturing supplies and horses. Fort Pillow was then garrisoned by about 600 Union troops, almost half of them black troops.

Forrest demanded that the garrison surrender or it would be taken by assault, and after the Union commander refused to yield the Confederate&rsquos attacked. A federal gunboat anchored nearby was likewise attacked it had been stationed to help cover a Union retreat from the fort, instead it closed its gun ports in protection from Confederate sharpshooters. As Union troops retreated from the ferocity of the Confederate assault they were pinned against the river or along the bluff on which Fort Pillow stood.

According to the reports of multiple survivors, many of the Union troops, black and white, surrendered as they were exposed along the river, only to be shot down or bayoneted by Forrest&rsquos troops, who repeatedly shouted &ldquono quarter.&rdquo Civilian workers who had been present in the fort at the time of the assault were likewise killed in the massacre. One Confederate sergeant wrote in a letter home that the black troops fell to their knees begging for mercy before being summarily shot down.

The Massacre at Fort Pillow was disputed by African American Officers who insisted that there was no surrender of either the Fort or retreating black troops. After the war US Grant wrote of the battle that, &ldquoThese troops fought bravely, but were overpowered.&rdquo Today the action at Fort Pillow is widely regarded as a massacre, but whether Forrest bears responsibility for a premeditated war crime is still debated.


Henry Wirz hanged for murder - HISTORY

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Wirz enlisted in the Confederate States Army as a private in the 4th Louisiana Infantry. He served on detached duty as a prison guard in Alabama before being transferred to help guard Federal prisoners incarcerated at Richmond, Virginia .

In February 1864, the Confederate government established a large military prison, Camp Sumter , near the small railroad depot of Andersonville, Georgia , to house Union prisoners of war . Though wooden barracks were originally planned, the Confederates incarcerated the prisoners in a vast, rectangular, open-air stockade originally encompassing sixteen and a half acres . Wirz commanded the stockade's interior. The prison was characterized by a lack of trained and adequately equipped prison guards a gross lack of food, tools and medical supplies severe overcrowding poor sanitary conditions and a lack of potable water. When it was most overcrowded, in August 1864, the camp held approximately thirty-two thousand Union prisoners, making it the fifth largest city in the confederacy and the monthly mortality rate from disease and malnutrition reached three thousand. Wirz did not try to alleviate the situation, unlike many men in similar situations both North and South on the contrary, abuses by guards ordered by Wirz, purposeful denying of parts of the already slim food supply abounded. [ citation needed ] Around forty-five thousand prisoners were incarcerated during the camp's fourteen-month existence, of whom thirteen thousand — twenty-eight percent — died .

After the end of hostilities, Wirz was arrested by a contingent of federal cavalry and taken by rail to Washington, D.C. , where the federal government intended to place him on trial for conspiring to impair the lives of Union prisoners of war.

In July 1865, the trial convened in the Capitol building and lasted two months, dominating the front pages of newspapers across the United States. The court heard the testimony of former inmates, ex-Confederate officers and even nearby residents of Andersonville . Finally, in early November, the commission announced that it had found Wirz guilty of conspiracy as charged and of eleven of thirteen counts of murder. He was sentenced to death.

In a letter to President Andrew Johnson , Wirz asked for mercy, but the letter went unanswered. Mounting the scaffold on the morning of November 10 , 1865 , Wirz asserted that he was being hanged for following orders. His execution was at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary - the same spot where the Lincoln conspirators met their own fate just a few months before - within clear sight of the newly-built dome of the U.S. Capitol. Wirz was eventually buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He was survived by his wife and one daughter.

Wirz's trial was legally significant for two reasons. Firstly, Wirz was one of only two men tried and executed for war crimes during the Civil War. [1] More significantly, however, Wirz's trial was the first war crimes trial in modern history and served as a direct historical precedent for the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II . [ citation needed ]


Gheorgheniviews


What would you have done, if you had spent your youth fighting for freedom as you saw it, settled in a new country with promise, built a career, and then found your adopted country embroiled in a fight for its life? Fought alongside it, no doubt. What would you have done then, if, wounded, useless in battle, you had been assigned the most thankless, impossible task of the war - overseeing 45,000 prisoners with a skeleton crew, a few cannon, and minimal supplies? The best you could, within your orders?

What if, the war lost, you had been put on trial by the victors? Would you have said, 'I made this situation, I am responsible', or would you have said, 'I did the best I could'? Who was responsible for this horror, anyway?

In our day, we are accustomed to international tribunals which try political and military leaders for war crimes, for what we call crimes against humanity. But Henry Wirz, the only man hanged for a war crime at the end of the US Civil War, was the first such 'war criminal'. Whether this was just - whether Wirz deserved to die for what he did or did not do during the last 14 months of this bitter internecine conflict - is a question that is still controversial.

For Henry Wirz was the commandant of the Confederate prison stockade called Camp Sumter - known to history as Andersonville.

The Problem with Prisoner Exchange

Prisoner exchanges1, the main means of solving prisoner problems in most wars before the 1860s2, did not work very well during the US Civil War. The Confederacy - blockaded, strapped for resources, unable to guard or provide for the masses of prisoners they captured - urgently wanted these exchanges. The Union, with greater resources and manpower coming off the immigrant boats weekly3, did not.

As the Secretary of War, Edwin M Stanton - the primary opponent after Lincoln of prisoner exchanges - put it, there were two objections. One was that exchanging prisoners recognised the existence of the Confederacy as a nation. The other was that Union soldiers, who only served for a year, were sent home, whereas Confederates, fighting on their own turf, simply went back to the army. The Union felt it was getting the lesser bargain. This left tens of thousands of soldiers at any one time sidelined from battle, but fighting for their very existence under horrific conditions.

Prisoner exchanges broke down in 1863 over a disagreement on the disposition of black Union soldiers. When Ulysses S Grant became Union commander-in-chief, he concluded for policy reasons that prisoner exchanges were detrimental to the North, and declined to re-initiate them.

The Facts on the (Bloody) Ground

Union prisons varied in quality - Elmira in New York had a 25% death rate for the year it was open. At Camp Douglas in Michigan, prisoners were deprived of clothing in a Great Lakes winter to discourage escape attempts, and 3-6,000 shivered and died in gunny sacks with holes cut for head and arms4. At Fort McHenry5 the prisoners were treated comparatively leniently, even being able to bribe the guards for a night out in nearby Baltimore, but Fort McHenry began as an internment camp for the prominent.

Conditions in Confederate prisons were bleak, though less cold in winter, a serious consideration in terms of survival. Libby Prison, a converted warehouse and chandlery in Richmond, Virginia, was overcrowded and disease-ridden, though surgeons visited there, and officers were brought food and comforts by Miss Elizabeth van Lew, the local Union spy in residence6. Prisons were often converted tobacco warehouses, or simply wooden stockades thrown up, with the prisoners living in tents, when available, or crude lean-tos constructed of materials at hand.

Estimates made about 40 years after the war indicate that in all, the South imprisoned 194,000 Union soldiers, while the North had captured 220,000 Confederates. Of these, 24,436 Southerners and 22,570 Northerners died in the camps. The total death toll of around 50,000 made the prison camps as deadly as the three days of Gettysburg, the most lethal battle of the war.

Andersonville was a stockade prison, constructed in desperation after prisoner exchanges had fallen through. In all, 45,000 prisoners were housed within the 26-acre enclosure. A creek7 ran through the camp, which quickly became clogged with effluvia. Food and water were scarce and disease was rife.


Conditions in Andersonville were horrendous, different in scale though not in quality from those in other prison camps on both sides in the conflict - of the 45,000 men imprisoned there, 13,000 died. What caused Andersonville in particular to become a byword for atrocity?

The Power of Public Opinion

The end of the war was time of heightened emotion on the part of the victorious North. Within a week of the surrender at Appomattox, President Lincoln was shot, and battle lines were drawn between those in the Administration who wished to continue Lincoln's policy of re-incorporating the rebel states 'with malice toward none, with charity for all', and those, like Edwin M Stanton, who most definitely did not. The new President, Andrew Johnson, was beleaguered from the beginning (he was later impeached, unsuccessfully). Johnson refused to allow the prosecution of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis and General Robert E Lee for war crimes, but acquiesced in the case of Andersonville Commandant Henry Wirz.

When images from Andersonville were published along with an article in Harper's Weekly8, public horror at the excesses of war was focussed on this particular camp. Someone had to pay. General Lew Wallace9, fresh from the panel that had tried the 'Lincoln conspirators'10, was named to head the court martial of the 'Andersonville jailer'.


Who was Henry Wirz, and how much did he have to do with what happened in that Georgia stockade?

From Revolution to War

Heinrich Hartmann (or Hartmann Heinrich) Wirz was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1822. A trained physician, he came to the US in 1849, with a prison record of his own. Henry, as he now called himself, was a '48er - like his contemporary, the Union General Carl Schurz11, Wirz had been involved in the upheavals that rocked Europe in 1848. Many of these young European radicals later went west. When war broke out, Wirz joined the Confederate Army, being seriously wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks. Returning from a diplomatic mission to Europe, Wirz was assigned to General Winder, who had been placed in charge of war prisoners east of the Mississippi. Thus Wirz came in charge of the nightmare that was Andersonville.

Supervision on the part of Confederate guards was non-existent - crime existed within the camp, caused by 'raiders' who stole from fellow-soldiers, even committing murder. The raiders were finally stopped by fellow prisoners, who captured and hanged them. Deaths averaged about 100 a day. Cannon were placed outside the stockade in case of prison uprising. Prisoners were required to stay inside the 'deadline' - a word that first appeared during the war, and which meant exactly what it said.

Wirz himself was far from well. His shattered arm caused him intractable pain, which was treated with morphine. There is some question that this combination caused him to be both irascible and erratic. Accounts of his alleged cruelty - including the case of a mad prisoner who was shot after crossing the deadline - vary and cannot be finally resolved.

In 1865, when Union troops liberated Andersonville, Wirz was arrested and taken to Washington, DC, for the world's first war crimes trial.

The Andersonville Trial

At his trial, it was alleged that Wirz behaved with wanton cruelty. Testimony was brought by former captives. Wirz offered in his defence a letter that he had written to his superiors complaining about the shortage of food for the prisoners. Some witnesses who wished to appear in Wirz's defence were excluded from the trial.

As Wirz continued to be unwell, he was brought into the courtroom on a stretcher and attended the proceedings from a chaise longue. He was convicted and condemed to death.


On 10 November, 1865, Wirz was executed in the courtyard of what is now the US Supreme Court building. The hanging was botched - it took Wirz two full minutes to die. Union soldiers stood around chanting 'Remember Andersonville'.

Vengeance or Revenge?

The 250 ticket-holding spectators in Washington who joined in the chanting as Henry Wirz, formerly of Zurich, slowly writhed his way to death on the gallows probably shared Mr Whitman's sentiments. But do we?

Much has been said, and will be said, of individual responsibility for acts of atrocity in wartime. Less is said - and this will, perhaps, continue to be the case - of the responsibility of individuals in times of high political passions to fight against the tendency to seek a scapegoat.

Die oorlog is verby. You have won - therefore your enemy was wrong. Completely, utterly, and definitively wrong. About economics, about social issues. About everything.

Wars do a lot of damage. Someone must pay for this damage. Guilt must be determined, blame assigned. Thus it has ever been, thus it will be.

The wheels of military justice grind swiftly. And sometimes they crush the guilty. Sometimes questions remain - the kind that niggle in the back of the historical conscience.

The transcripts of the Andersonville Trial are public record. They can be read. Where are the transcripts for Elmira, Fort Douglas, Fort Delaware? The graves of 13,000 dead stand in orderly rows in Anderson, Georgia - where are the graves in Michigan?


Afterthoughts and Practical Considerations

Wirz had been ordered to keep more than 30,000 men at a time confined in a filthy, dangerous place in order to prevent their escape - and to use whatever military means he had at hand to do so. This, though terrible, was in keeping with the usages of that war. His qualifications as an administrator were doubtful, but there was a great deal of amateurism in that war.

His supply problems were enormous - he complained about this to his superiors. Shortages of food and equipment were common in the Confederacy - nobody was getting enough to eat as the war wore on. In fact, of the 1,000 guards at Andersonville, 226 died, of the same diseases and privations as those on the other side of the fence12.

Supplies were short in the South because the region was subject to naval blockade. Supplies were also short because almost every able-bodied man was fighting, leaving a serious shortage of agricultural labour. In addition, the war was being fought largely on Southern territory, causing damage to crops and disruption of rail services.

Union policy in refusing prisoner exchange was deliberate and based on a war strategy intended to exploit the advantage of greater available manpower. This policy - along with the policy of rendering Confederate prisoners unfit for further duty - essentially regarded the soldiers themselves as raw materials.

One could argue that such considerations prevail in wartime, particularly when so much is invested in the outcome. But by holding a postwar tribunal, the judges are inviting comparisons - a consideration of whether the victors had not, in fact, been doing exactly what they had accused their opponents of doing - deliberately exacerbating the suffering of prisoners of war.

It is perhaps impossible for any people to look at such questions dispassionately - certainly not in the aftermath of a bloody war which levied such a personal toll on all involved. Nor for a war in which ideology was used to such devastating effect.

The political reasons for holding a show trial of one man are evident. A century and a half later, the questions are there to be raised. Was the Wirz case one of clear-cut responsibility for an atrocity? Was this man guilty of 'wanton cruelty', of carrying out an expressed policy in contravention of the codes of war? Or was he a convenient scapegoat for a nation looking back in horror at what it had become?

Civil wars leave long-lasting scars. Long after the fighting is over, even when the shell craters have been filled in and the fields grow green over the burned-out homesteads, the memory remains of the ugliness of man's inhumanity to his fellow-man. That loss of faith is the deepest wound, and heals last, if at all.

Abraham Lincoln, himself a casualty of that war, had a vision of healing that he expressed in his Second Inaugural Address:

This is, of course, the legacy we want to believe in - the one in which we judge one another fairly, in which we are not drawn by our own fear, suspicion, and doubt to cast the blame on another. A review of the post-Civil War period will reveal many instances in which fear, suspicion, and doubt won out over Lincoln's vision of reconciliation.

For Further Reading

Written in 1959, Saul Levitt's play The Andersonville Trial, based on trial transcripts, ran on Broadway before being taped for a PBS special in 1970. A visit to Youtube will yield scenes from this performance, directed by George C Scott and starring Cameron Mitchell, Richard Basehart and William Shatner.

MacKinlay Kantor's novel Andersonville is rich in period detail, and earned the author the 1955 Pulitzer Prize.

Andersonville itself is open to the public and can be visited.


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1 The exchange rate during the US Civil War was as follows: 1 general = 46 privates, 1 major general = 40 privates, 1 brigadier = 20 privates, 1 colonel = 15 privates, 1 lieutenant colonel = 10 privates, 1 major = 8 privates, 1 captain = 6 privates, 1 lieutenant = 4 privates, 1 noncommissioned officer = 2 privates. (Source: 'Prisons, Paroles, and POWs'.)
2 The Napoleonic Wars, which resulted in a major prisoner issue in Great Britain, were an exception. The Thames hulk fleet and the construction of Dartmoor came about as solutions to the problem of French prisoners of war in that long-running conflict.
3 For an international view of the aggressive recruitment of immigrants by the Union, see that excellent Irish source, the popular ballad.
4 The number is impossible to determine there is a mass grave with only an approximate count on the marker.
5 Francis Scott Key wrote the US National Anthem while sitting in a cartel boat outside Fort McHenry. His grandson, a prominent Southern sympathiser from Baltimore, spent the Civil War inside Fort McHenry. To understand why President Lincoln declared martial law in that secessionist city, and interned its local government, please refer to a map of the eastern United States. Baltimore is noord of Washington, DC.
6 The prison, from which several successful escapes were made, has the unusual distinction of having been moved in its entirety to Chicago after the war for use as a Civil War museum.
7 A small river.
8 On which the banner reads 'Journal of Civilization'.
9 Author of Ben Hur.
10 The 'Lincoln Conspirators' - those accused of aiding John Wilkes Booth in his assassination of President Lincoln - included Mary Surratt, a widowed tavern owner who was hanged for aiding in Booth's escape, as well as Dr Samuel Mudd, who had treated the assassin and was marooned for a time in the Dry Tortugas.
11 Founder of the US Civil Service.
12 These are buried in nearby Americus, Georgia.


Kyk die video: Colonel Heinrich Wirz at, Confederate Capt Henry Wirz Memorial (Januarie 2022).