Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison

As a prisoner of war Bernard McKnight probably spent time in one or more Confederate prisons until finally being transferred to Andersonville, Georgia sometime between February and April of 1864. Andersonville Prison, under the command of Captain Henry Wirz, was to be known for its horrible conditions and low regard for human life. Disease was like poison ive. Sanitation facilities and medical attention were nonexistent, while death occured. By July of 1864, 30,000 prisoners were held at Andersonville. A total of about 13,000 died in the facility during its existence. Survival became the main concern of most prisoners. Barney died at the age of 27.Fellow inmates stripped the bodies of their dead comrades, tied a tag to their toe indicating their name and military unit, and placed the body by the stockade gate to be taken out and buried. During the month of August in 1864 an average of ninety-nine men per day died in the stockade. Bernard body was removed from the prison and buried in the cemetery a quarter of a mile away.


Though we typically only hear about the horrors of Camp Sumter, also known as Andersonville, both the North and the South had prison camps. Together there were more than 150 POW camps. Some of them may have been old forts, buildings or warehouses. Some camps provided tents; others provided no shelter. The camps were more deadly than the war. The skeletal survivors of the camps resembled survivors of the camps, both National Socialist and Eisenhower’s camps following World War II.

Symptoms and The Obstacles Faced in Camp

The greatest obstacle to survival was rampant disease and poor diet. The crowded, unsanitary conditions within the stockade resulted in an infestation of lice and maggots, and the contamination of the water supply. High rates of typhoid, infection, gangrene were the result. As the Confederate war effort failed, so did its ability to supply the needs of its prisoners. The daily staple of poorly prepared and insect infested cornbread was the caused widespread digestive problems. The lack of fruits and vegetables caused massive outbreaks of scurvy. Bermard was simply unable to avoid the inevitable fate created by the abhorrent conditions. He developed scurvy. His gums became soft, began to bleed and his teeth loosened and fell out. As the condition worsened Barney's muscles slowly contracted reducing his mobility.