Andersonville Prison: the Hell on Earth

Topics: Henry Wirz, Andersonville National Historic Site, American Civil War Pages: 8 (3003 words) Published: September 2, 2012
Andersonville Prison|
Hell on earth|
Billy Bucci|

Since the invention of the movie popular themes have often come from events that have happened throughout history. Many times Hollywood will take certain events that have happened in history that have gained popularity amongst the population of the country and made a movie about it, and some events have multiple movies made about them. Although the true events that they make movies about are very interesting and usually have played a major role in the shaping of certain societies or events they are just not always exciting enough to make a good movie so Hollywood changes certain small details, or embellishes facts, or adds parts to the event that really didn’t happen, sometimes it is hard to know what is factual or not. I have picked the movie Andersonville which gives its rendition of the most infamous Confederate Civil War prison that existed. There are three major facts that I will analyze between the Hollywood movie Andersonville and what really happened in history. The first fact of the movie that I believe has been embellished is the portrayal of CPT. Henry Wirz, the commander who ran Andersonville prison; the movie makes him out to be a bit crazy. The second point of the movie that I will be analyzing is the layout of the prison itself between the layout in the movie and the actual site in Georgia, and the third and final aspect of the movie that I will analyze is the trial of the group inside the prison known as the raiders. I know that it has been shown with many movies that they are not always historically correct, but I am hoping to prove that this movie has done a good job at trying to stick to the facts.

In the movie Andersonville: The Great Untold Story of the Civil War Captain Henry Wirz was portrayed with negativity as a man with no care. Often times Throughout the movie they show CPT. Wirz as a lunatic who cared nothing for the enemy prisoners who were placed in under his care. He is often times seen gallivanting around the camp sharply dressed worrying about marching drills, not once talking to his men about the welfare of the soldiers or ways to improve conditions of the prison camp. One part of the movie specifically shows that the Confederacy send high ranking Confederate Officers to the prison camp to inspect the conditions of the camp, while they were there CPT. Wirz is shown practicing drill and ceremony while dead bodies are being carried out of the camp and he is not bothered by this at all. When the inspectors are preparing to leave there is a conversation where the colonel tells Wirz that he is not running the prison in a proper manner and Wirz tries to explain to him how it is trying to run the prison so far away from the Capital of Richmond and away from all of the main supply routes. Towards the end of the conversation CPT Wirz is shown trying to bribe the Colonel for a promotion to Major, explaining to him how with his promotion he might be able to have more authority which would help him in procuring supplies. CPT. Wirz was also shown addressing the prisoners, withholding food rations from them because allegedly some of the prisoners stole his halter and bridal for his horse. In his speech to the prisoners he goes on to explain to them that they will not get any rations until his property is returned while the truth was there were no rations to give the soldiers. CPT. Wirz was shown at numerous points in this movie lying to the prisoners to get them to do what he wanted to, and to try and keep them from trying to escape. In my opinion the movie tried to paint the picture that CPT. Wirz was somewhat of a simple minded fool who had no idea how to run a prison and cost the lives of a vast number of Union soldiers without a care in the world.

Through the proof of history and historical documents many of the things that the movie Andersonville made CPT Henry Wirz out to be are incorrect. CPT. Wirz whose...
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