Reading the Death Warrant to Captain Wirz on the Scaffold - Washington, DC, November 10, 1865
Heinrich Hartmann Wirz better known as Henry Wirz 1823 –1865 was a Swiss-born Confederate officer in the American Civil War. He is best known for his command of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp near Andersonville, Georgia; he was tried and executed after the war for conspiracy and murder relating to his command of the camp.
Wirz would greet new arrivals to the camp brandishing a pistol, cursing at them in his heavily accented English, and threatening to shoot them personally if they attempted to escape or broke the camp rules. That, coupled with the harsh discipline he imposed on the prisoners, which included ball-and-chaining them for even minor infractions, made him hated by those confined there.
At its peak in August 1864, the camp held approximately 32,000 Union prisoners, making it the fifth-largest city in the Confederacy. The monthly mortality rate from disease, dysentery, and malnutrition reached 3,000. Around 45,000 prisoners were incarcerated during the camp’s 14-month existence, of whom close to 13,000 (28%) died.