Civil War Institute
This post is part of a series featuring behind-the-scenes dispatches from our Pohanka Interns on the front lines of history this summer as interpreters, archivists, and preservationists. See here for the introduction to the series.
Captain Henry Wirz remains one of the most controversial figures in Andersonville’s history. One of just a handful of soldiers convicted of and executed for war crimes after the Civil War ended (not the only one, though perhaps the most notorious), he has taken on a dual identity in American memory as a remorseless criminal and an honorable martyr . Few physical reminders of Camp Sumter survive—only the earthworks and underground remains of the stockade wall logs indicate that a grassy Georgia field once held forty-five thousand Union prisoners of war. Written accounts and sketches, however, provide a fairly reliable basis for fabricating reproduction objects. One of the most memorable is “Wirz’s Jewelry”—the ball and chain with which Captain Wirz punished prisoners who attempted escape, stole supplies, or offended the Swiss officer. This instrument of confinement, carries its own complex symbolism, which has influenced historical memory of Civil War prisons. [excerpt]
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Greenman, Jessica Nicole, "2 Comments on Gettysburg’s Stone Walls: Restoration or Rehabilitation? “Wirz’s Jewelry”: Memories of Captivity" (2018). The Gettysburg Compiler: On the Front Lines of History. 304.