The Execution of Henry Wirz

November 10, 1865

Washington, DC

The execution of Henry Wirz, commandant of Anderson Prison (Library of Congress)

Captain Henry Wirz, the commandant of the now infamous Camp Sumter near Andersonville, Georgia, was tried before a military tribunal for crimes committed against Union prisoners of war. The charges brought upon Wirz by the United States Government included, conspiracy “to injure the health and destroy the lives of soldiers in the military service of the United States”, and for “murder, in violation of the laws and customs of war.” Though Wirz did demonstrate indifference towards Andersonville's prisoners, he was, in part, a scapegoat and some of the more damning evidence against him was fabricated entirely. After the lengthy 63-day trial with over 160 witnesses taking the stand, a verdict was handed down which found Wirz guilty of conspiracy, and on eleven of the thirteen counts of murder. Wirz was promptly sentenced to death and was hanged at the Old Capital Prison yard at 10:32 am on November 10, 1865. Perhaps surprisingly, Captain Henry Wirz was the only soldier to be tried, convicted, and executed for war crimes as a result of the American Civil War.


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