Andersonville National Historic Site might be one of the most moving National Historic Sites you’ve never heard of. Located in Andersonville, Georgia, it hosts three features in one place: Andersonville National Cemetary, the Andersonville prison, and the National Prisoner of War Museum.
All of these different sites combine in one spot to make for a fascinating historical destination. It not only serves as a stopover for those interested in Civil War history but also highlights some of the incredible stories of American prisoners of war (POW).
In this post, we want to dive into what makes Andersonville National Historic Site so special. We’ll cover each of these three areas of the site on their own, plus provide a few tips on how to make the trip.
Military War Prison
Andersonville is probably best known as the location of the Fort Sumter Military War Prison. This was the largest prison built by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. According to records, over 45,000 Union soldiers were kept here during various periods of the war.
The prison is best known for its terrible conditions during the Civil War. Over 13,000 Union soldiers died at Andersonville. Much of this was due to overcrowding and very poor conditions such as inadequate food and water supplies. Most of the men died from infections and diseases.
When Union soldiers died at Andersonville, they were also buried on the grounds outside of the prison. This land houses the final resting places of almost 14,000 men. Years after the Civil War ended, it is now a National Cemetary.
Surrounded by a low brick wall is the cemetery you’ll have the opportunity to explore. Also, there are paths for visitors to pay their respects to those in their final resting places. After 1870, approximately 7,000 additional veterans and soldiers from all of America’s military branches chose to be buried here as well.
National Prisoner of War Museum
The Prisoner of War Museum was built in 1998. Its creation derived from a partnership with the National Park Service and former POWs. These men felt it was important to both tell their own stories but also honor other service members who did not make it home.
Inside the museum, you’ll find video presentations, exhibitions, art, and photographs that all tell the stories of prisoner’s of war. Visitors can learn through first-hand stories all about the struggles these POWs had to face during their time in captivity as well as their daily lives.
There is no public transportation that serves this site. So, to get here, you will need to drive or rent a car from a nearby city. Andersonville is just over 2 hours from Atlanta and a little over an hour from both Columbus and Macon, Georgia.
The park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. It closes only on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Also, the admission is free.
There is also a self-driving tour around the park as well as a self-guided walking tour.