|Leaving the Orlando area, we drove 316 miles to get to Unadilla, GA. This is way beyond our normal driving day. We're happy to do less than 100 miles, but certainly no more than 200. But, we had a time constraint and doing one long day's driving would be the only way we could stop and spend the time to visit Andersonville.
I guess we live right, because it's uncanny how often we arrive (totally unplanned) just in time for the next tour or the next event. We had a 30-mile drive from Unadilla to Andersonville. Andersonville was the location of the notorious Civil War prison camp. It is a National Historic Site and is a memorial to all POWs since we became a country. We walked into the Visitor's Center just as the introductory movie was starting. We came out of the movie just as the only walking tour of the day was beginning. A quick trip to the bathroom and we were ready for the tour. Our guide did a fabulous job of giving us the layout of the prison and describing the horrible life that went on there.
This prison was only used for 14 months, in 1864-65. In that short time 45,000 prisoners went through its gates and of that number, almost 13,000 died. At one point, there were 33,000 people imprisoned in this 20-acre area. They were provided no shelter and had none unless they brought it with them or could scrounge it. They were surrounded by a stockade 15 feet high. Inside of that stockade was another fence about 19 feet away and this was the "deadline." If you stepped into this area, the order was to shoot to kill. The prisoners were fed once a day and neither you nor I can imagine living on such rations. Water was inadequate. One small stream was expected to provide them with their water for bathing, drinking, washing, and latrine.
After our walking tour, we visited the museum, which is dedicated to all POWs and is really well done. it was a sobering visit. How do humans do such things to other humans?
After the museum, we went on a driving tour of the prison site and the national cemetery. The visitor's center provided us with a free driving guide - either CD or cassette. That tour took us about an hour and was really good. We stopped at various points of the prison and the cassette gave a complete explanation of that part of the prison. The National Cemetery is where the 13,000 Union soldiers are buried. In 1865, Clara Barton and a former POW came to Andersonville to identify and the mark the graves of all who had died there. Only 460 of the graves had to be marked, "Unknown U.S. soldier." The cemetery is still being used and burials take place every day.
If anyone has any interest in US history, Andersonville is a must visit place.