Henry Wirz Court Martial
FINDING OF THE COURT

The court, having maturely considered the evidence adduced, finds the accused, Henry Wirz, as follows:

Charge I.

Of the specification, guilty, after amending said specification to read as follows:

In this, that he, the said Henry Wirz, did combine, confederate, and conspire with them, the said Jefferson Davis, James A. Seddon, Howell Cobb, John H. Winder, Richard B. Winder, Isaiah H. White, W. S. Winder, W. Shelby Reed, R. R. Stevenson, S. P. Moore, [W. J. W.] Kerr (late hospital steward at Andersonville), James W. Duncan. Wesley W. Turner, Benjamin Harris, and others whose names are unknown, citizens of the United States aforesaid, and who were then engaged in armed rebellion against the United States, maliciously, traitorously, and in violation of the laws of war, to impair and injure the health and to destroy the lives--by subjecting to torture and great suffering; by confining in unhealthy and unwholesome quarters; by exposing to the inclemency of winter and to the dews and burning sun of summer; by compelling the use of impure water, and by furnishing insufficient and unwholesome food--of large numbers of Federal prisoners, to wit, the number of about 45,000 soldiers in the military service of the United States of America, held as prisoners of war at Andersonville, in the State of Georgia, within the lines of the so-called Confederate States, on or before the 27th day of March, A.D. 1864, and at divers times between that day and the 10th day of April, A.D. 1865, to the end that the armies of the United States might be weakened and impaired, and the insurgents engaged in armed rebellion against the United States might be aided and comforted. And he, the said Henry Wirz, an officer in the military service of the so-called Confederate States, being then and there commandant of a military prison at Andersonville, in the State of Georgia, located by authority of the so-called Confederate States for the confinement of prisoners of war, and as such commandant, fully clothed with authority, and in duty bound to treat, care, and provide for such prisoners, held as aforesaid, as were or might be placed in his custody, according to the law of war, did, in furtherance of such combination, confederation, and conspiracy, maliciously, wickedly, and traitorously confine a large number of prisoners of war, soldiers in the military service of the United States, to the number of about 45,000 men, in unhealthy and unwholesome quarters, in a close and small area of ground wholly inadequate to their wants and destructive to their health, which he well knew and intended; and, while there so confined during the time aforesaid, did, in furtherance of his evil design, and in aid of the said conspiracy, willfully and maliciously neglect to furnish tents, barracks, or other shelter sufficient for their protection from the inclemency of winter and the dews and burning sun of summer; and with such evil intent did take, and cause to be taken, from them, their clothing, blankets, camp equipage, and other property of which they were possessed at the time of being placed in his custody; and, with like malice and evil intent, did refuse to furnish, or cause to be furnished, food either of a quality or quantity sufficient to preserve health and sustain life; and did refuse and neglect to furnish wood sufficient for cooking in summer and to keep the said prisoners warm in winter; and did compel the said prisoners to subsist upon unwholesome food, and that in limited quantities, entirely inadequate to sustain health, which he well knew; and did compel the said prisoners to use unwholesome water, reeking with the filth and garbage of the prison and prison guard and the offal and drainage of the cook-house of said prison, whereby the prisoners became greatly reduced in their bodily strength, and emaciated and injured in their bodily health; their minds impaired and their intellects broken; and many of them, to wit, about the number of 10,000, whose names are unknown, sickened and died by reason thereof, which he, the said Henry Wirz, then and there well knew and intended; and, so knowing and evilly intending, did refuse and neglect to provide proper lodgings, food, or nourishment for the sick, and necessary medicine and medical attendance for the restoration of their health; and did knowingly, willfully, and maliciously, in furtherance of his evil designs, permit them to languish and die from want of care and proper treatment. And the said Henry Wirz, still pursuing his evil purposes, did permit to remain in the said prison among the emaciated sick and languishing living, the bodies of the dead until they became corrupt and loathsome, and filled the air with fetid and noxious exhalations, and thereby greatly increased the unwholesomeness of the prison, insomuch that great numbers of said prisoners, whose names are unknown, sickened and died by reason thereof. And the said Henry Wirz, still pursuing his wicked and cruel purpose, wholly disregarding the usages of civilized warfare, did, at the time and place aforesaid, maliciously and willfully subject the prisoners aforesaid to cruel, unusual, and infamous punishment, upon slight trivial, and fictitious pretenses, by fastening large balls of iron to their feet, and binding numbers of the prisoners aforesaid closely together with large chains around their necks and feet, so that they walked with the greatest difficulty, and being so confined were subjected to the burning rays of the sun, often without food or drink for hours, and even days, from which said cruel treatment numbers, whose names are unknown, sickened, fainted, and died. And he, the said Wirz, did further cruelly treat and injure said prisoners by maliciously tying them up by the thumbs, and willfully confining them within an instrument of torture called "the stocks," thus depriving them of the use of their limbs, and forcing them to lie, sit, and stand for many hours without the power of changing position, and being without food or drink, in consequence of which many, whose names are unknown, sickened and died. And he, the said Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish, and cause to be designated within the prison inclosure containing said prisoners, a "dead-line," being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall inclosing said prison, and about twenty feet distant from and within said stockade; and having so established said dead-line, which was in some places an imaginary line, and in other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of boards, nailed upon the top of small and insecure stakes or posts, he, the said Wirz, instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might fall upon, pass over or under or across the said dead-line; pursuant to which said orders and instructions, maliciously and needlessly given by said Wirz, the said prison guard did fire upon and kill a number of said prisoners. And the said Wirz, still pursuing his evil purpose, did keep and use ferocious and bloodthirsty dogs, dangerous to human life, to hunt down prisoners of war aforesaid who made their escape from his custody; and did then and there willfully and maliciously suffer, incite, and encourage the said dogs to seize, tear, mangle, and maim the bodies and limbs of said fugitive prisoners of war, which the said dogs, incited as aforesaid, then and there did, whereby a number of said prisoners of war, who, during the time aforesaid, made their escape and were recaptured, died. And the said Wirz, still pursuing his wicked purpose, and still aiding in carrying out said conspiracy, did cause to be used for the pretended purposes of vaccination, impure and poisonous vaccine matter, which said impure and poisonous matter was then and there, by the direction and order of said Wirz, maliciously, cruelly, and wickedly deposited in the arms of many of said prisoners, by reason of which large numbers of them lost the use of their arms, and many of them were so injured that they soon thereafter died. All of which he, the said Henry Wirz, well knew and maliciously intended, and in aid of the then existing rebellion against the United States, with a view to assist in weakening and impairing the armies of the United States, and in furtherance of the said conspiracy, and with the full knowledge, consent, and connivance of his co-conspirators aforesaid, he, the said Wirz, then and there did,

Of the charge, guilty, after amending said charge to read as follows:

Maliciously, willfully, and traitorously, and in aid of the then existing armed rebellion against the United States of America, on or before the 27th day of March, A.D. 1864, and on divers other days between that day and the 10th day of April, A.D. 1865, combining, confederating, and conspiring, together with Jefferson Davis, James A. Seddon, Howell Cobb, John H. Winder, Richard B. Winder, Isaiah H. White, W. S. Winder, W. Shelby Reed, R.R. Stevenson, S. P. Moore, [W. J. W.] Kerr (late hospital steward at Andersonville), James W. Duncan, Wesley W. Turner, Benjamin Harris, and others unknown, to injure the health and destroy the lives of soldiers in the military service of the United States, then held and being prisoners of war within the lines of the so-called Confederate States, and in the military prisons thereof, to the end that the armies of the United States might be weakened and impaired, in violation of the laws and customs of war.

Charge II.

Of the first specification, guilty, adding the words "or about" immediately before the phrase "the 9th day of July."

Of the second specification, guilty.

Of the third specification, guilty, after striking out "June" and inserting instead "September."

Of the fourth specification, not guilty.

Of the 5th specification, guilty, after striking out the phrase "on the 30th day" and inserting instead the phrase "on or about the 25th day."

Of the sixth specification, guilty, after striking out the word "1st" and inserting "15th," and also striking out the phrase "on the 6th day" and inserting instead the phrase "on or about the 16th day.

Of the seventh specification, guilty, after striking out the word "20th" and inserting instead the word "1st," and also after inserting "or about" immediately before the phrase "the 25th day."

Of the eighth specification, guilty.

Of the ninth specification, guilty.

Of the tenth specification, not guilty.

Of the eleventh specification, guilty, after striking out the word "1st" and inserting instead the word "6th;" after striking out also the phrase "incite and urge" and the phrase "encouragement and instigation" and by adding the words "or about" after the word "on," where it occurs in the specification; and also after striking out the phrase "animals called bloodhounds" and inserting the word "dogs;" and also striking out the word "bloodhounds" where it afterward occurs and insert the word "dogs;" and also striking out the words "given by him."

Of the twelfth specification, guilty.

Of the thirteenth specification, not guilty.

Of the charge, guilty.
Source:  Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

This page last updated 10/25/01

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