1865 September 2: Dead Andersonville Prisoners Given “Decent” Burials
The following appeared in The Prescott Journal’s normal “By Telegraph” column on September 2, 1865. The two inside pages of The Polk County Press are identical to the Journal’s inside pages for September 2, 1865. No explanation is given in either newspaper; it may have happened during microfilming.
Today Andersonville Prison is a National Historic Site and and the cemetery is a National Cemetery, both run by the U.S. National Park Service. On their website for Andersonville, they state: “Andersonville National Cemetery was established to provide a permanent place of honor for those who died in military service to our country. The initial interments, beginning in February 1864, were trench burials of the prisoners who died in the nearby military prison. In fourteen months, nearly 13,000 soldiers were buried here. … Burial locations can be located online using the Nationwide Graveside Locator” and limiting your search to Andersonville National Cemetery, Ga.
B Y T E L E G R A P H
NEW YORK, Aug. 25.—Tribune’s special says Capt. James M. Moore,¹ A. Q. M., who left here on the 8th of July last, for Andersonville, Ga., for the purpose of decently burying the remains of our murdered heroes, returned to this city this morning, having accomplished the object of his visit. The captain records that he arrived at Andersonville on the 25th ult., after having experienced considerable difficulty in procuring transportation for himself, his party of mechanics and clerks. The work of painting and lettering the head boards for the graves was immediately commenced and finished, occu-[pying] nearly the whole time of the party’s stay.
There were 13,000 head boards set up, all appropriately lettered, giving the names, and as far as known, the regiment and company of the deceased. The Captain found the graves nearly all marked with a neatly painted stake, numbered—the numbers on the stakes corresponding with a record kept in the hospital of the prison, giving the names of those buried. The cemetery is about fifty acres in extent, and nearly 300 yards from the stockade. The dead were buried in trenches—in many cases over 100 in a trench. Mounds were created over each body, thus forming graves. A neat white fence has been erected around the cemetery, and the place made to look as well as possible. Pleasant walks are being laid out which are to be shaded by trees.
1. James Miles Moore (1837-1905) was, at this time, a captain, Assistant Quartermaster General, U. S. Army, as of July 2, 1864. His obituary states, “General Moore was among the first to enlist in the Civil War, joining the Nineteenth Pennsylvania Infantry on April 18, 1861. He served two years in the line and was then transferred to the Quartermaster’s Department in which he remained until his promotion to colonel in 1901. He was promoted to brigadier general on the retired list in 1904.”
In 1866 the U.S. Government Printing Office published Moore’s official report of this expedition and his list of the dead buried at Andersonville, entitled The Martyrs Who For Our Country Gave Up Their Lives In the Prison Pens In Andersonville, Ga; it is available digitally on the HathiTrust Digital Library. Moore’s list of dead was published by the government to compete with Dorence Atwater’s list of the Andersonville dead. Atwater was a Union soldier in Andersonville who was one of several prisoners charged with maintaining the death register, which he secretly copied. He worked with Clara Barton, who helped get it published by the New York Tribune in 1866 as A List of the Union Soldiers Buried at Andersonville; it is available digitally on the Internet Library.
2. “Grounds at Andersonville, Georgia, Where Are Buried Fourteen Thousand Union Soldiers, Who Died in Andersonville Prison,” from the October 7, 1865, issue of Harper’s Weekly. The picture includes Clara Barton raising the national flag, in far background, which happened on August 17, 1865. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ Chalmer Davee Library has microfilm copies of Harper’s Weekly for 1858-1865 (UWRF online catalog).