Point Lookout vs. Andersonville

Annie69 By Annie69, 5th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

Andersonville, Georgia, is known as the worst pow camp of all times. But, then, history is written by the winners, isn't it? Not nearly as many people have heard about the horrors of Point Lookout, Maryland.

From hospital to prison

When General George B. McClellan failed to capture Richmond in 1862, Hammond Hospital was built on Point Lookout, Maryland, to care for the wounded. In 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg, Point Lookout became a prison. Just as Andersonville was the terror of the South, Point Lookout became the terror of the North.

Rev. Traywick and John R. King

Rev. J. B. Traywick survived the horrors. “I will give some incidents of my experience at Point Lookout, Maryland. It will certainly show that all the sinners were not in charge of Southern prisons.” (1)

Located on the peninsula where the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay come together, Point Lookout was approximately 40 acres surrounded by a fourteen foot wall. A walk way around the top allowed guards to walk patrol 24/7. Another survivor, John R. King, had this to say, "Two days out of every three we were guarded by a gang of ignorant and cruelsome negroes . . . and the defenceless prisoners suffered at their hands . . .” (2)

The prison

Upon arrival, prisoners were allowed only their clothes and one blanket. Like Andersonville, there were no buildings. Tents that leaked and had been rejected for use by the Union army were issued. Often as many as 16 men shared a tent until there were not enough tents to go around. Designed for about 10,000 prisoners, it was not uncommon for 12,000 to 20,000 soldiers to be incarcerated at Point Lookout at any one time.

Lack of sufficient shelter was only one problem the prisoners faced. Driven by hunger, men would hunt rats for food. “Our suffering from hunger was indescribable,” (2) said Rev. Traywick. He was there just over four months and lost 65 pounds.

Firewood, too, was in short supply. A cord of green pine was the five day allotment for a thousand men. On extremely cold nights, an average of four to seven prisoners would freeze to death.

Prison to state park

The prison closed after the war in 1865, and the area is now a state park. While the actual death toll is unknown, some estimates suggest over 14,000 lives were lost during the prison's two years of operation. Historical records from Point Lookout State Park say only 4,000 died. Part of the controversy is due to a single mass grave that is known to hold over 3,300 bodies. However, there are no records to accurately confirm that number one way or the other.

“The first Confederate monument ever constructed has been placed above this mass grave. Made of granite and standing over 85 feet tall, the base of it is covered with bronze tablets, telling the story of the Confederate soldiers lost at Point Lookout Civil War Prison.” (2)


(1) http://www.csa-dixie.com/csa/prisoners/t62.htm (Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XIX, Richmond, VA, January 1891, pages 432-435)

(2) http://www.censusdiggins.com/prison_ptlookout.html




Georgia Civil War Pow Camps, Maryland Andersonville, Point Lookout

Meet the author

author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Oct 2015 (#)

Another interesting post my history teacher , I am learning everything about American history through you my dear Annie!

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author avatar Annie69
6th Oct 2015 (#)

You flatter me. Thanks. It's readers like you who leave nice comments that keep me going. and if you're the one asking about Oregon in the Civil War, the answer is YES. I'm working on it now.

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
7th Oct 2015 (#)

This is something new to learn. There are so many stories never told about the American Civil War.

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author avatar Annie69
7th Oct 2015 (#)

Yes, there are many stories about American history that aren't in textbooks. There's no way all of them could be included. But I enjoy finding little tidbits that aren't too lengthy that might be of interest to others. Thanks for reading.

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