November 12, 2018
In the distant past “Andersonville” conjured images of unspeakable cruelty and suffering. It was the name of an overcrowded POW camp in Georgia where captured Union soldiers were held…and where many of them died from sickness, starvation, and murder. So notorious was this pen that its commander, Major Henry Wirz, was tried and executed for war crimes.
Nobody recoils in horror anymore at the mention of this tiny Georgia town’s name, but its gruesome past has not been forgotten. “History is written by the victors” is true insofar as what children are taught in school, but there’s always another history – the one the losing side tells. And so it is with Wirz and Andersonville. In a ceremony held there today the Sons of Confederate Veterans – Camp 78, honored Wirz and endeavored to right the historical record. The tiny village of Andersonville is just a short distance from the NPS National POW Museum, directly across the road actually. In the heart of town stands a stone obelisk monument honoring Major Henry Wirz – the same one executed for war crimes by the United States Government.
The featured speaker at today’s 43rd annual Capt. Henry Wirz Memorial Service was Major Glen LaForce whose thesis on the trial of Wirz, which he deemed “a National Disgrace” was published in The Army Lawyer in 1988. LaForce made a compelling case that Wirz was a scapegoat undeserving of a conviction by the military tribunal in which he was tried. His presentation was warmly received by those in attendance and he was given a standing ovation.
Tabletop diorama and figures at Drummer Boy Civil War Museum, Andersonville.
Following the speeches and acknowledgements by SCV Compatriots and music by Southern Sounds, attendees walked to the nearby monument where the Muckalee Guard laid a wreath and fired a rifle salute. That was followed by an artillery salute by the Anderson Battery.