The most visited tourist site in South Georgia is Andersonville National Historic Site, a former Civil War prison camp known as Camp Sumter. The complex includes the grounds of the camp as well as the National Prisoner of War Museum and Andersonville National Cemetery. The museum has films and displays on prisoners of war from all American conflicts, including Vietnam, Korea, and modern wars in the Middle East.
The camp itself has informational panels scattered throughout to tell visitors about the grim history. For the last year of the Civil War, Union soldiers were captured and brought here, where they slept under makeshift tents with whatever they had carried. Water and food were hard to come by and disease plagued the overcrowded camp, which was four times over capacity. Escape attempts were met with death. The commander of the camp was later tried for war crimes and sentenced to death. Nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 prisoners died.
It’s important to also stop at the cemetery, where the Union soldiers that died here were re-buried after the war. But over 900 are unmarked as “unknown.” More recent veterans and their families are also buried here.
If You Go
Andersonville National Historic Site is located at 760 POW Road, Andersonville, Georgia 31711, around three hours southwest of Atlanta. The museum and visitor’s center is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm, but the grounds are open from 8 am to 5 pm, apart from holidays. Admission is free and parking is free. The closest place to stay is the RV Park at Andersonville Civil War Village or the Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel in Americus, about 15 minutes away.