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ANDERSONVILLE PRISON

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Andersonville Prison

Dorence Atwater

Dorence Atwater, a member of the 2nd New York Cavalry, was 19 years old when he was sent to Andersonville and became the keeper of the books in which the deaths of prisoners were recorded. His lists proved invaluable to Clara Barton.

List of Union Soldiers Buried at Andersonville; Dorence Atwater, 1865

One of the most common question asked by visitors here at Andersonville is "The headstones are so close. Are they symbolic? How could they be so close?"

The biggest killer here at Andersonville was diarrhea caused by the polluted water supply. With this, dehydration was caused and soon enough, the bodies were nothing but skeletons with little of anything.

This is how the dead were buried and the process that Dorence ATWATER took it upon himself to volunteer for the Confederates to keep the death records and why they are more complete than any other POW site Union or Confederate. When the dead were carried from the stockade, they were either carried from the South gate where they were left by soldiers who knew them or to the dead house, again by those who knew them. Dorance Atwater would register the dead in his records with what information was supplied by those who brought them. Name, State, Regiment and Company as well as cause of death. He would register them numerically as they were brought and tagged. The dead would then be carried to the cemetery the next day and buried. The first dozen were buried in pine boxes, but as the dead increased and the lack of time and resources to build coffins, the dead were placed in trenches 4 feet deep, 5 feet wide...and long enough for 150 to 200 bodies average.

The bodies were stripped naked so that the living could use what the dead no longer needed and were buried literally shoulder to shoulder. The tag was taken from the body which had the number which matched the Atwater records, and there was a wooden post placed at the head of each grave with that corresponding number. This way, the number of the dead man matched the records. Following the war, in July 1865, Atwater and Clara BARTON, (founder of the American Red Cross), returned to Andersonville to establish the National cemetery and mark the graves. Atwater had made a second copy of the list ( he was afraid his original would be destroyed) and smuggled it out when he was exchanged. Had he not done so, there would be more than 2500 unknowns as the Confederate records were missing 2000 names. Thanks to his work, only 460 buried are unknown.

Atwater, Barton, and several companies of Union soldiers matched the records with the numbers on the graves, and placed the first markers. Wooden headboards were replacing the post with Grave number, Name, State, Company and date of death. When the wall was built surrounding the cemetery in 1878, the first gravestones replaced the wooden boards. There are several hundred of these
thin worn stones still in the cemetery.

With the oncoming war with Spain, the US Government finally got around to establishing a standard UNION gravestone. This is the same type you see at all Union CW Graves from Arlington Cemetery, Gettysburg, and Andersonville. These at Andersonville were placed in 1898 and 1899. Each stones replacing the previous stones allows us to know we have marked the exact grave of the man buried beneath it.

Please visit my website dedicated to those Americans who were imprisoned and died in captivity while in the service to our country.
Kevin Frye
Local Andersonville Historian / National Park Service Volunteer
http://www.angelfire.com/ga4/avillepow/index.html

BURIED ANDERSONVILLE
Code No: 19101
Grave No: 9101
Last Name: BACON
First Name: JAMES P.
Rank: PRIVATE
Company: E
Regiment: 154
State: NY
Branch of Service: INFANTRY
Date of Death: 9/18/1864
Cause of Death: DIARRHEA
Remarks: JAMES BACON [1][2]; J. BACON [3]
Reference*: P 30 [3]; P 1096 [84]
Place Captured: GETTYSBURG, PA
Date Captured: 7/1/1863
Alternate Names:
Status: DIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
More Information
Available: NO

Code No: 30689
Grave No: NOT BURIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
Last Name: BLISS
First Name: FRANKLIN
Rank: PRIVATE
Company: C
Regiment: 9
State: NY
Branch of Service: CAVALRY
Date of Death: 10/9/1864
Cause of Death:
Remarks: REPORTED TO HAVE DIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
Reference*: P 31 [48] "History of 9th NY Cavalry": 311
Place Captured: TODDS TAVERN, VA
Date Captured: 5/7/1864
Alternate Names:
Status: REPORTED TO HAVE DIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
More Information
Available: NO

Code No: 18919
Grave No: 8919
Last Name: CONGER
First Name: JONAS F.
Rank: CORPORAL
Company: A
Regiment: 49
State: NY
Branch of Service: INFANTRY
Date of Death: 9/16/1864
Cause of Death: SCORBUTUS
Remarks: JONAS CONGER [1][2]; JAMES CONGER [3]; NAME [4]
Reference*: P 32 [3]
Place Captured:
Date Captured:
Alternate Names:
Status: DIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
More Information
Available: NO

Code No: 45271
Grave No: NOT BURIED AT ANDERSONVILLE
Last Name: FROST
First Name: NELSON N.
Rank: PRIVATE
Company: D
Regiment: 9
State: NY
Branch of Service: CAVALRY
Date of Death:
Cause of Death:
Remarks: Returned to Company April 26, 1865; mustered out with
Company, July 17, 1865.
Reference*: P 123 [48] "History of 9th NY Cavalry": 327
Place Captured: TREVILIAN STATION,VA
Date Captured: 6/11/1864
Alternate Names:
Status: SURVIVED ANDERSONVILLE
More Information
Available: NO
** Added info
Nelson N. FROST was pensioned in NY as an invalid, Feb 3, 1868 Widow Janette
(* nee HEATH) pensioned Dec 20, 1909
FLUVANNA Cemetery
Frost, Nelson b. 1838 d. 1910 age
Frost, Janette H. b. 1842 d. 1915 age
* in 1880 Nelson lived in Gerry NY, Wife Janet and dau Ethel infant

Source: Submitted by Dolores Davidson, 2004.