“Dead Yankees at Andersonville”

In his recent book, Damn Yankees! Demonization & Defiance in the Confederate South (LSU, 2015), George Rable writes that many Southerners held such an intense hatred of Yankees that the only thing they could think of doing “was to kill as many of the viperous brood as possible.”

Some Confederates sustained this thinking to the point of imagining endless deaths of Yankees.

I’m saying this as a way to set up the article I have found in the Atlanta Daily Intelligencer of August 19, 1864, entitled “Dead Yankees at Andersonville.” August ’64 was the deadliest month for prisoners at Andersonville, with 2,993 POW deaths, according to Futch, the prison camp’s early chronicler. The largest number of deaths on a single day was 127 on August 23.

So the following article exaggerates the mortality at the prison. But that’s not really the point, as you’ll see in the following transcription of the article—which, by the way, ran on the Intelligencer’s front page.


During one of the intensely hot days of last week, more than three hundred sick and wounded Yankees died at Andersonville. We thank Heaven for such blessings.

A curious calculation has passed through our mind, dated on this information.

We find that this would make 1800 feet, equal to 600 yards, or more than a quarter of a mile of dead Yankees.

A procession of wagons, one to each man, reckoning ten feet to the wagon, would make a line 6000 feet or more than a mile long.

To bury them side by side, would require a trench 600 feet long, equal to 200 yards, 7 feet wide and five feet deep.

It would require 120 men to dig the graves.

200 carpenters to make boxes.

25 drivers to the wagons.

25 assistants to bury them.

25 wagons to haul them.

40 mules to pull them.

It would require 6 good, steam saw mills constantly running, to furnish sufficient lumber to make the coffins, reckoning the work of each mill at 2500 feet per day.

At 50 feet to each coffin the sum total would be 15,000 feet.

To the funeral cortege we will allow for charity’s sake, 00000000 mourners.

. . . And all this ran under the Intelligencer’s masthead, proclaiming “Error ceases to be dangerous when reason is left free to combat it.”

7 Responses to “Dead Yankees at Andersonville”

  1. Thanks for the post. We do forget that the “Enemy” is so often beyond the Pale, and what ever happens to him (or her) is permissible.

  2. How awful. What a tragedy…who would even want to do those calculations and report them triumphantly? It would be interesting to note if this type of “journalism” was paralleled about the Southern prisoners in the north.

  3. I wonder how much the editor’s decision to run this on the front page was influenced by the fact that Sherman’s army group was knocking on Atlanta’s door?

  4. But southerners only turned bitter because of Reconstruction! Lost Causers tell me that all the time!

    Next you’ll tell me they’re lying about the war really being about tariff policy instead of slavery.

  5. Look at the attacks, verbal and sometimes physical, on Muslims in the US today. Or the US incarceration of American citizens of Japanese ancestry 75 years ago. Sadly some things never change.

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