Another aspect of the tragedy of the American Civil War that involved many from this part of the state was that of being sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

Their stories showed the terror of that camp. Some retelling of those stories were written by high school and junior high students during the 1960s when Lowell Lewis, County Superintendent of Schools, sponsored an essay contest during the centennial celebration of the American Civil War. Although the essays covered a wide array of topics, the most poignant ones dealt with the prisoner-of-war experience. Below are some marvelous examples:

John W. Richards, of the 98th Mounted Infantry, was one such prisoner. Two Dieterich High School students in an essay about this soldier wrote: “Private Richards and two unknown soldiers secretly dug a pit in the vicinity of the camp. Each night it was necessary for the soldiers to conceal their pit that they were digging. They did so by throwing such items as boards, their clothes and earth over the hole. The day they moved Andersonville Prison, Private Richards and the two other soldiers were hiding in the pit. Their only means of breathing was through hallow stocks.

The Federal prisoners and Confederate soldiers walked over the pit not knowing the plan of escape. After digging their way out of the pit, they started their long journey back to their camp. While traveling back to their camp, they stayed with colored folk, or slept in deserted barns and houses. Their food consisted of wild game, berries, or what people gave them. Mr. Richards told his daughter, Mary Jane, the conditions of Andersonville were unbelievable. There were 50,000 northern soldiers held prisoners. Over 1/4 of this number died because of the terrible conditions of insanitation and insufficient food and clothing.”

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