|A former POW made his living as a musician|
An online database of Union soldiers held for about six weeks at a prison in Georgia has grown to 3,808, more than one third of the site’s population.
Through research, online sites – such as findagrave and familysearch -- and the Andersonville Departure Register, archaeologist Debbie Wallsmith has increased that number from a listing of 399 prisoners who died at Camp Lawton.
Visitors at Magnolia Springs State Park northwest of Savannah can assume the identity of a POW at the state’s Camp Lawton History Center. They learn more about the experience of being at Lawton and then find out that prisoner’s fate. The Confederate camp also was known as Millen, a town a few miles away.
|Exhibit hall at Magnolia Springs History Center (Ga. DNR)|
In a recent newsletter from the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, Wallsmith provided an update on her ongoing effort to learn more about the prisoners and their Confederate guards. She called the project an “obsession” in a 2014 interview with the Civil War Picket.
The average age of enlistment for the Union captives was 24, although the range went from 15 to 45.
“Of 625 survivors with known dates of deaths, 466 died before 1900, including 138 while imprisoned elsewhere before the end of the war; and 10 others who died aboard the Sultana, a steamboat that exploded on the Mississippi River while transporting soldiers home.” One POW died in 1944.
Up to 10,000 Union men, most sent from the infamous Andersonville prison camp, were held at Lawton in late 1864 before they were moved elsewhere. Death estimates range from 685 to 1,330. The database includes more than 3,400 Lawton survivors.
Wallsmith concluded her update with a summary of a few of the most famous Lawton prisoners, including Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett, who killed John Wilkes Booth, and Peter “Big Pete” McCullough, a Missouri soldier known as the “Hanging Judge of Andersonville” for seeking punishment for six fellow Union prisoners who were part of the “Raiders,” a group that preyed on comrades.
Cpl. Alexander T. Butler of the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, Company B, (above) lived to be almost 75 and married four times after returning home. Butler farmed after the war and received a pension because of illness.
Eppenetus Washington McIntosh of the 14th Illinois Infantry survived the Sultana disaster.
McIntosh “found it difficult to stay in one place and spent most of the remainder of his life as a traveling minstrel, and sold post cards that featured a drawing of his emaciated appearance after being released from Andersonville,” Wallsmith wrote.
Wallsmith asks those with questions or possible contributions to the database contact her at 770-389-7864 or firstname.lastname@example.org