ACTIVITY 4

ANDERSONVILLE--WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

The rations provided by the Confederacy were not the only resources made available to the prisoners. Goods and money flowed into the stockade from newly captured prisoners, local civilians, and guards looking to make a profit. It was by these methods that inmates, whose daily rations were at best meager, were able to add to their diet. Food, clothing and supplies were traded with guards, or local patrons. With the availability of these limited resources, all that remained was a system for the division of these goods among the population.

Inside the Andersonville prison, a group of prisoners called the Raiders banded together to improve their situation by preying on fellow prisoners. By operating in large groups, the Raiders were able to steal food, money, clothing and property by force. Prison authorities did nothing to stop the Raiders from attacking fellow inmates. New prisoners with good clothes, blankets, jewelry, and money were the favorite prey of the thieves. After selecting a victim, they would seize his possessions, club any friends who tried to assist him, and flee. One new shipment of 2000 new prisoners were dressed in new uniforms and carried well-filled knapsacks and large sums of money. Kindly appearing men would offer to show newcomers where they could sleep. Then during the night, they would come back and rob them.

Finally, in July of 1864, a group of prisoners known as the 'Regulators' banded together to oppose the Raiders. The Raiders were rounded up and held captive with the commanderís permission. They were then put on trial for their deeds and six who were identified as the ring-leaders were hung. The Regulators continued to patrol the camp and, according to many, adopted some of the plundering mannerisms of the Raiders.

Like most cities (Andersonville was the fifth largest "city" in the Confederacy), it included a host of tradesmen and merchants. There were representatives of many occupations. Barbers and laundries flourished. There were dentists, doctors, watchmakers, bakers, tailors, and many a cobbler repairing rotting shoes.

Prisoners who had money could buy almost anything imaginable to eat. James Selman's shanty periodically offered cucumbers, watermelons, muskmelons, onions, and potatoes. Selman's prices were high because he paid enormous premiums to the farmers and women who brought their produce and baked goods to the camp. (He still made a profit). Selmans' sutlery, was only the most obvious of several grocery alternatives. Over 200 small businesses operated on Market Street inside of the stockade. Full time vendors cried out "who wants wood?", and "Here goes a bully dress coat, only $4."

Andersonville Prison, Microcosm: Economics Lesson