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Henry Wirz was commandant of Andersonville Prison and was executed. This was done out of spitefulness and vindictiveness, just after the war, and if it was justifiable, there were quite a few others who also deserved that fate. Wirz was a foreign born person, from Switzerland, still had an accent, and was not a likeable person. He was not a very good officer, and lost control of the situation at Andersonville. He should have been relieved of his command. Conditions in the prison were harsh. It should be borne in mind, however, that at that stage of the war the Confederacy was not even able to feed its own armies in the field, and the prisoners fared about as well as the average Confederate soldier as far as food goes. For the first several years of the war, prisoners were exchanged - so many privates for an equal number the other side was holding, so many sergeants, so many captains, and so on. Sometimes, when large numbers of prisoners were taken, they were paroled. Their names were taken and recorded on a list, and they were given a piece of paper which was their "parole", and they were let go, to go where they pleased, so long as they did not return to their army and fight again until "properly exchanged". A "cartel for the exchange of prisoners", being officers from each side, would meet, compare lists of paroled prisoners, and declare an equal number "exchanged". Those exchanged would be called back to the army and could resume fighting again. When Grant was made the Union General In Chief, one of the first things he did was to stop the exchange of prisoners. This was a cold blooded decision, based on Grant's understanding that exchanging prisoners did not make the most of the Union's huge advantage in manpower. Grant calculated that retaining Rebels in northern prisons, instead of exchanging them to fight again, would hasten the end of the war. Grant made this decision in full knowledge that northern troops in southern prisons, who henceforth would not get to be exchanged, would suffer greatly, but he was willing for that to happen. He weighed the situation and made that choice. So it was Grant's decision in this matter that resulted in the large numbers of unexchanged POWs in southern hands late in the war to start with. Moreover, while the south was largely unable to help the conditions of the northern POWs in their hands, the north COULD help what happened to Rebels in their hands, and the north made the deliberate decision to locate its POW camps in the most barren, inhospitable, unhealthy places they could find, and once the prisoners were in these places to withhold food, clothing, adequate shelter, and medical care. IT IS A LITTLE REMARKED UPON FACT, CLEARLY STATED IN THE "OFFICIAL RECORDS" OF THE WAR COMPILED BY THE US GOVERNMENT, THAT MORE SOUTHERN PRISONERS DIED IN NORTHERN POW CAMPS THAN NORTHERN PRISONERS IN SOUTHERN POW CAMPS. This was both a larger percentage of prisoners dead, and a larger number in absolute terms. But all one hears of today is Andersonville. Of course no one in the north was reproached in the slightest for establishing such hellholes as Point Lookout, Fort Delaware, Camp Douglas, Elmira, or Sandusky, each of which was as bad or worse than Andersonville. And again, the cruelty routinely inflicted in all those placed was deliberate, to starve men in the midst of plenty, while that at Andersonville was without remedy. No one in the north felt the slightest bit guilty over any of this. Quite the contrary. Those who thought up and instituted this policy were heroes, and the brutal, murderous prison guards who carried it out were given pensions, paid in part by taxes on the southern states. Wirz did not deserve to die for his failures, and those who did deserve to die for the vicious treatment they accorded to helpless prisoners in their care, being all Yankees, were never even spoken to harshly about it.

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Q: Who was executed for excessive cruelty at andersonville prison and was that action justified?
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Who was executed for excessive cruelty at andersonville prison?

Captain Henry Wirz. Youar Welcome

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