Southbridge in the Civil War – Andersonville Prison


Andersonville Prison is synonymous with the horrors of the Civil War.  Some 13,000 Union prisoners died while being held in some of the worst conditions of the American Civil War.  Andersonville Prison was opened in February of 1864 on 16.5 acres of land near the town of Andersonville Georgia.  By the time the prison was liberated in May of 1865 45,000 union soldiers would have been held there.

The prison was commanded by Major Henry Wirz who was tried and executed after the war due to the conditions of the prison he commanded.  The most common cause of death was scurvy, diarrhea and dysentery caused by lack of clean water and overcrowding.  In June of 1864 the prison was expanded to 26.5 acres in an attempt to lessen the burden but the damage had already been done.

David Brown
David Brown

As I have noted in other essays, the Town of Southbridge, located in Central Massachusetts, sent some 400 men to fight in the war two of those men were among the 13,000 who perished while being held at the prison at Andersonville Georgia.

David Brown was born in Ireland in 1839 and immigrated to the United States and settled in Southbridge where he was employed as a laborer.  He married Margaret Maloney in 1858 in Southbridge and was the father of two sons David, born in 1858 and James, born in 1862.

David was 32 years old in July of 1863 when he answered the call of his new home and mustered into the 18th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment’s Company K.  He went missing on the 5th of May 1864 after the Battle of the Wilderness and was sent to Andersonville Prison.  He died there on August 18, 1864 of diarrhea.  He is buried in grave number 6057.

James S O'Brien
James O’Brine

James O’Brien was born in Ireland in 1825 and immigrated to Southbridge where he was employed as a spinner at a local mill.  He married Mary Hogan and had 2 sons, William James and Daniel and 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Mary.

James was 38 years old when he enlisted in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment’s Company C and was discharged on November 13, 1862.  He returned home and a year later on November 13, 1863 he enlisted for a second time in the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery and was taken prisoner on April 20, 1863 near Plymouth North Carolina.  He was sent to Andersonville where he died on August 29, 1864.  He is buried in grave 7193.

May we never forget the sacrifice of so many, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to ensure that America would be and continue to be free.

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