Second Lieutenant James Madison Page was a Union officer of Company A, Sixth Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. After participating in many skirmishes and battles, including Gettysburg, Page was captured in Virginia on September 21, 1863 by Confederate forces along the Rapidan. After spending several months in various prison camps, he arrived at Andersonville Prison in Georgia on February 27, 1864. He would remain there seven months during a time when the prison population grew from 10,000 to over 30,000.
Page was present at Andersonville during the most crowded and harrowing period, including the summer of 1864. He became acquainted with many fellow prisoners, guards, and the prison commandant, Henry Wurz. Unlike some Union prisoners, Page was not bitter or hostile toward his captors. He observed that the Southerners ate no better than the prisoners and he never saw or heard about any atrocities, an account which was greatly at variance with the government's charges against Wurz in the fall of 1865.
Listen as Lieut. James Madison Page recounts his exciting war record, his grim experience as a prisoner of war, and his unflinching testimony of what he saw at Andersonville Prison.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audio Connoisseur
An ancestor of mine had been taken prisoner during the Civil War. So I wanted to explore prison conditions he might of faced. Andersonville had a reputation for being the worse place to end up if you were captured.
This book has to do with the guilt or innocence of Major Henry Wirz, commander of Andersonville prison. James Paige a prisoner of the prison bends over backwards to exonerate the Major.
He makes the case that prisoners and guards alike faced short rations and deplorable conditions. Many died from all manner of disease brought on by overcrowding, lack of sanitation, lack of medicine and food unfit to be fed to anyone. When smallpox broke out, the vaccines were given but they were tainted. Many died.
Paige refers to the decent treatment he received by Wirz. He makes the case that the Major was given orders and he followed them.
He does make a great case that the trial was a kangaroo court and Wirz was the scapegoat. They hanged him. Everyone else involved was exonerated. They had their pound of flesh.
He also states accurately that the Secretary of War was to blame for not exchanging prisoners. He didn't want to trade starved corpses for healthy soldiers. The Rebel captives were treated much better than Union prisoners. Union prisoners were to the point of death.
His reasoning was if we hand over healthy prisoners they would be able to go back to the war and prolong it.
Paige had done his homework and read all accounts of the prison written prior to his. In fact he is forever quoting these accounts.
It is not as intense as I thought it would be. The book is told more as an observer or reporter than by an actual prisoner. It is Andersonville seen through rose colored glasses.
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