After the massive bloodletting of the Civil War, one would have hoped that Death would have taken at least a brief holiday in the US. Such was not the case. On April 27th 1865, the SS Sultana, a Mississipi paddlewheeler steamer, constructed in 1863 for the cotton trade, was serving as a transport. Its cargo was appoximately 2500 Union soldiers, many of them former POWS, some of them survivors of Andersonville. The Union soldiers boarded at Vicksburg. The Sultana while in port at Vicksburg had a patch put on its steam boiler. The repair was clearly inadequate, a new boiler being needed.
I normally take great pride in being an American, but there are passages in our history which all Americans should be ashamed of. During our Civil War in many prison camps, both North and South, POWs were treated wretchedly with inadequate shelter, clothing and food. The worst by far was Andersonville. The vast tragedy at Andersonville came about for a number of reasons. Continue Reading
One hundred and fifty years ago Union prisoners began arriving at the Andersonville prison camp. A blot on American honor is the callous way in which many prisoners of war were treated during our Civil War, north and south. (For a Union prison camp that had a death rate of 25%, google Elmira prison camp, or as the Confederates imprisoned there referred to it, Helmira.) 45,000 Union soldiers would be held at Andersonville and 13,000 of them would die through starvation, bad water, no sanitation and disease. Accounts of what went on inside Andersonville beggar description. Jesus wept, sums up the reaction of any decent soul to this abomination. See the accompanying post for today for the grim details, and for a shining example of humanity by a man motivated by God’s love to love his enemies.
“Fr. Whelan, a Catholic priest from Savannah came in and spoke words of cheer to the condemned and prayed for the forgiveness of their crimes. This lone priest was the only minister of the Gospel that ever came into the prison to speak a kind word or set aright our misguided souls. He made regular visits to the prison, consoled the dying and anointed the dead of his faith. Too much praise cannot be accorded this reverend gentleman for trying to turn sinners to Christ; but in the Last Day, Heaven will cry out for vengeance on ministers of other denominations for their indifference toward their kindred confined in prison.”
Charles Fosdick, Company K, 5th Iowa Volunteers
Hattip to commenter Jim Schmidt. Faithful readers of this blog will recall my post Priest of Andersonville in which I related the story of Father Peter Whelan, a Roman Catholic priest and Confederate Army chaplain who, on his own initiative, ministered to the tens of thousands of Union prisoners of war at the infamous Andersonville prison in 1864. Continue Reading
I normally take great pride in being an American, but there are passages in our history which all Americans should be ashamed of. During our Civil War in many prison camps, both North and South, POWs were treated wretchedly with inadequate shelter, clothing and food. The worst by far was Andersonville.