The horrific images show the truth behind the horrors of the US Civil War – which claimed the lives of more than half a million in just four short years.
This war is considered as one of the bloodiest war in US history. The war claimed 620,000 lives which was fought between 1861 and 1865 – nearly as many American casualties as every other war fought by the United States combined.
Harrowing photos revealed the death and destruction of the battlefields as well as the horrors inside the Confederate’s notorious military prison in Andersonville, Georgia are clear to see.
Called Camp Sumter, it was the largest prison in the South where captured Union soldiers were kept from February 1864 to April 1865, the end of the Civil War.
Harrowing photographs from the Civil War show the horrible conditions that Union soldiers faced after they were captured and brought to the Confederate’s notorious military prison, Camp Sumter, in Andersonville, Georgia. Unidentified emaciated Union Army prisoners are seen at the prison in 1865
Camp Sumter, which eventually became known as Andersonville after of the railroad station near the prison, was the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp. An unidentified emaciated Union Army soldier is pictured receiving help at a hospital in May 1865, after the Civil War had ended and the prison at Andersonville was shut down
The Andersonville prison was overcrowded to four times its capacity. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers (one pictured left) held there, 13,000 died, with scurvy, diarrhea and dysentery as the chief causes of death. Pictured right is Alfred Stratton, whose arms were taken by a cannon shot during the American Civil War on June 18th, 1864. He was just 19 years old at the time. One in 13 Civil War soldiers became amputees
The Civil War remains the bloodiest war in US history. Fought between 1861 and 1865, it claimed 620,000 lives – nearly as many American casualties as every other war fought by the US combined. Pictured above, African-American men collect the bones of soldiers killed in battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia, in June, 1864
Fallen soldiers are pictured at Gettysburg, Pennysylvania, following the historic battle fought during the Civil War in July 1863. In the Battle of Gettysburg, Union forces turned away a Confederate advance in the pivotal battle of the Civil War fought July 1-3, 1863, which was also the wars bloodiest conflict with more than 51,000 casualties
Quickly, after the prisoner-exchange system Camp Sumter was built. The exchange was between the Union and the Confederacy fell through in 1863. The system broke down because the Confederacy refused to treat black soldiers as equal to white soldiers.
In February, 1864 prisoners were first brought to the camp even before it was completed. Camp Sumter, which became known as Andersonville after the railroad station near the prison, was built to hold 10,000 men but was often overcrowded to four times its capacity.
In August 1864, Camp Sumter held more than 33,000 PoWs on only 26 acres of open ground without shelter or clothing for the inmates. Prisoners had only the clothes they were wearing when captured. Wearing their tattered Union uniforms, the men were forced to sleep in makeshift tents or holes dug in the ground.
Andersonville had an inadequate supply of food and water and in the last 12 months of the Civil War, 13,000 Union prisoners died there from disease and starvation.
Infested with vermin and lice, the only source of water was a tiny creek that ran through the grounds, but soon became polluted with raw sewage. Eventually the banks of the creek eroded and turned a large portion of the camp into a swamp.
Around 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War – making up around 10 per cent of all the war’s casualties. At Alton prison in Illinois, more than 1,500 Rebels died in custody from disease.
But by far, Camp Sumter was the most fatal with almost a third of its 45,000 Union soldiers dying in just 14 months.
Andersonville (pictured being built) was founded after the prisoner-exchange system between the North and the South fell through in 1863. The system broke down because the Confederacy refused to treat black soldiers as equal to white soldiers. Swiss-born Confederate Captain Henry Wirz was in charge of the camp for its entire 14-month duration, from February 1864 to April 1865
A view of Andersonville on August 17th, 1864. This picture shows the deadline (the wooden fence) if any prisoner stepped beyond it or reached over the guards had orders to kill them. At the height of the prison in August 1864, there were more than 33,000 PoWs on only 26 acres of open ground without shelter or clothing for the inmates
Prisoners at Andersonville, pictured in 1864, had only the clothes they were wearing when captured. In their tattered Union uniforms, the men were forced to sleep in makeshift tents or holes dug in the ground. Andersonville was one of America’s most notorious PoW camps during the Civil War
Around 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War – making up around 10 per cent of all the war’s casualties. At Alton prison in Illinois, more than 1,500 Rebels died in custody from disease. But Camp Sumter was by far the most fatal with almost a third of its 45,000 Union soldiers dying in just 14 months. Pictured above, an overhead view of Andersonville Prison
Prisoners sent to the camp knew it could mean a death sentence as appalling conditions meant that disease and dysentry was rife while food was scarce. Stories of conditions in the camp eventually reached the North which were appalled by the inhuman treatment of its Union soldiers
Wirz (right) became one of the nation’s most hated men after shocking photographs of survivors starved into living skeletons emerged after the war, revealing the terrible treatment of prisons at the camp – something that wasn’t seen again until the Nazi death camps in the Second World War. Left, a drawing of scenes inside the camp. Wirz was arrested for his crimes as the commander of Andersonville one month after the Confederates surrendered at the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 – one of the last battles of the Civil War
After a two-month trial in Washington, DC, that started in August 1865, where more than 100 witnesses testified against Wirz, he was found guilty of multiple counts of murder, abuse and war crimes despite his protestations. He was sentenced to death and on November 10, 1865, he was hung in front of the crowd of 250 spectators for cruelty towards prisoners-of-war
During the duration of the camp’s 14 month, Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, a native of Zurich, Switzerland, was the commander of the Andersonville prison.
One month after the Confederates surrendered at the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 – one of the last battles of the Civil War – Wirz was arrested for the murders of the soldiers who died during their imprisonment at Andersonville.
When the horrific stories and shocking photographs of the survivors who had been starved into living skeletons reached the north, Wirz became one of the nation’s most-hated men.
The horrific photographs revealed the terrible treatment the prisoners had suffered – something that wasn’t seen again to the same extent until the Nazi death camps in the Second World War.
One picture titled ‘A Harvest of Death’, fallen soldiers are pictured following the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and African-American men are seen collecting the bones of soldiers killed in battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia one year later in 1864.
In another particularly disturbing 1865 image, a skeletal survivor of the confederate prisoner-of-war camp looks sadly into the camera.
A dead confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Spotsylvania in Virginia is pictured on May 19, 1864. The battle was the second major battle in Lt Gen Ulysses S Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign. After the Battle of the Wilderness, Grant moved southeast, in an attempt to lure Lee to more favorable conditions
Bodies of the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland, in September 1862. The battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day of fighting in US history, with over 20,000 people killed, wounded or declared missing
The body of a dead Confederate soldier lies in a trench at Fort Mahone on April 3, 1865, in Petersburg, Virginia. He died during an attack which was part of the Third Battle of Petersburg, at the end of the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign near the conclusion of the Civil War. The Confederate army was reduced by over 10,000 men in the battle
A dead confederate soldier in the trenches of Fort Mahone, Virginia, April 1865. He died during an attack which was part of the Third Battle of Petersburg. Union soldiers occupied Richmond and Petersburg on April 3, 1865, and while other soldiers surrounded the Confederates, Robert E Lee was forced to surrender on April 9, 1865, after the Battle of Appomattox Court House
A dead confederate soldier inside Union lines is seen after a battle in Petersburg, Virginia, on April 2, 1865, during the Third Battle of Petersburg, at the end of the 292-day Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. The thinly held Confederate lines at Petersburg were stretched to their breaking point in the final days of the war
A dead Confederate artillery soldier is pictured in Petersburg, Virginia, on April 2, 1865. As much larger Union forces assaulted thinning Confederate forces in the Third Battle of Petesrburg, the southern troops held on long enough so that high-up officials and most of the remaining Confederate army could flee
To answer his crime, he was soon taken to Washington, DC. He was charged with murder and conspiracy to injure the health and lives of Union soldiers, according to the History Channel.
His trial, which began in August 1865, lasted two months and more than 100 witnesses were called to testify.
Some witnesses claimed that they had seen Wirz personally murdering and torturing prisoners and that he had ordered guards to do the same.
But Wirz claimed he had simply been following orders and blamed the South’s lack of food for starving the prisoners. He also claimed the North’s refusal to exchange prisoners had forced him to keep so many.
Despite his protestations, he was found guilty of multiple counts of murder, abuse and war crimes and sentenced to death in front of 250 spectators.
He was hanged on November 10, 1865 at the age of 41. His corpse was later buried in an unmarked grave.
For four deadly years, the country endured not only its bloodiest and most vicious military conflict, but also some of its cruelest racial hatred.
Adding to the already immense heap of skulls, Confederates used disease, starvation, exposure, and outright execution to kill hundreds of thousands of former slaves during the war, a figure not included in death toll estimates thanks to a deliberate lack of record keeping.
A dead Confederate soldier is seen in Spotsylvania, Virginia on May 19, 1864, during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. During the battle, up to 110,000 Union soldiers faced as many as 63,000 confederate troops. There were more than 30,000 casualties between the two sides by the end of the battle
The bodies of Confederate soldiers were lined in a neat row at Alsop Farm in Virginia after being killed on May 19, 1864. They were laid out for burial at a house adjacent to part of the battlefield of the Battle of Harris Farm
An unidentified Confederate soldier was killed on May 19, 1864, an Alsop Farm, Virginia, during the Battle of Harris Farm. The Harris Farm Engagement was part of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, hed by Union Major Gen Winfield Hancock and Confederate Gen Richard S Ewell. Ewell’s men had the upper hand at first, though Hancock’s larger numbers soon gained control. Both sides took heavy casualties
The Battle of Gaines’ Mill took place on June 27, 1862 in Hanover County, Virginia. It was the third attack of the Seven Days Battle, which saw Confederate General Robert E Lee renew his attacks against the Union Army. Pictured above, unburied dead on the battlefield at Gaines’ Mill, Virginia
A view of the slaughter pen at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. The slaughter pen was an area of the battlefield that had an extraordinary amount of bodies lying there
Dr Richard Burr would embalm soldiers almost immediately after they were recovered from battlefields. He is pictured in 1863, soon after Dr Thomas Holmes had developed a new way of prerving bodies through injecting a liquid into veins. The process would prevent decay and make it possible for bodies to be shipped home
The ruin of Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Bridge, in Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865. It was destroyed by the Confederate Army. Prior to its destruction, it carried the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad over the James River in Richmond, Virginia
The ruin of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Bridge seen in Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865. The bridge was destroyed by Confederate soldiers in anticipation of the Fall of Richmond. It was rebuilt the following year, only to be burned again in 1882
The end of all this bloodshed began when Union General Ulysses S Grant relentlessly assaulted Petersburg, Virginia for nine months in hopes of destroying Confederate General Robert E Lee’s army, who eventually capitulated in April 1865.
With the bulk of the Confederate military strength gone, the end of the war was imminent. In May, Union troops in Georgia captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis – who promptly almost got away.
The leader of the unit that captured Davis became distracted and left his prisoner in the hands of his adjutant.
That man was nearly fooled into letting Davis – who slipped into disguise as an old woman – escape. But when troops noticed the old woman’s boots and spurs, Davis was caught.
Davis spent the next two years in prison, and the country spent the ensuing decades trying to rebuild from the conflict that very nearly tore it apart.