Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 1864

February 27, 1864

—A new prisoner exchange policy has been adopted by the U.S. Government: that prisoners will no longer be exchanged. Lincoln’s reasoning is that exchanging prisoners gives the Rebels more veteran men to fight. Also, if they are forced to build prison camps, then more resources (being scarce in the South) will go to feed and house prisoners and less to combat troops. Added to this was the Confederacy’s refusal to treat captured blacks as regular prisoners of war for any reason. Today, in Sumter County, southern Georgia, the new Confederate States prison camp at Andersonville opens its doors as 500 Union prisoners arrive. Col. Alexander Persons of Georgia is given command of the camp.

—On this very date, Robert Knox Sneden, a Union prisoner, was being transported with hundreds of others south to Andersonville. After leaving their stop in Augusta, Georgia, they travel all day until coming to a stop somewhere in central Georgia. Sneden describes their accommodations:
The cars were sidetracked and we all had to get out in a rain storm, when we were marched a few hundred feet until we came to a deep hollow made by the embankments of the railroad where two tracks crossed each other. Down in this muddy hole which was partly covered with tree stumps and loose brushwood we bivouacked for the night. Small fires were made, but would not burn much on account of being wet. We got plenty of pitch pine smoke however. We huddled in small groups in the hollow, while the Rebel guard were posted above us on the railroad tracks on the embankment. About midnight we were served with three crackers and a slice of raw bacon. We pulled our blankets over our heads and sat on stumps and stones until daylight through a drizzliing rain. We had gotten one good night’s sleep in the foundry, and not many of us slept at all here. The place was called "Hell’s Delight" by the guard and before morning the red mud was nearly over our shoes. The guards built quite large fires on the side of the railroad track above us. These enabled them to see us all the time to prevent escape. This hole had been used some weeks ago by a detachment of our prisoners who had preceded.

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