The Andersonville of the North

Letter From Maryland

After the Battle of Gettysburg, a prison camp was established in occupied Maryland on a low peninsula lapped by the waters of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. All told, 52,000 people—Confederate soldiers, Maryland and Virginia civilians, blockade runners, and spies—passed through the portals of the "Andersonville of the North." In 1910, because erosion threatened Confederate cemeteries near Tanner Greek north of what had been the prison compound, the prisoners' remains were moved up the peninsula to a patch of land owned by the federal government near Scotland, Maryland. There, a monument marking the Confederate graves was erected by federal officials. A little girl who lived at Scotland Beach passed the new national cemetery on her way to and from school and witnessed this re-interment. Many years later, she described to her grandson, Donald Hammett, now a veteran ranger at Point Lookout State Park, what she had seen: wagons heaped with the bones and skulls of the fallen Confederates and the mounds of excavated earth. To this day, according to Ranger Hammett, fragments of human remains are found in the vicinity of the prison camp's burial grounds. Although the federal government claims that approximately 3,500 perished, the number of men who died at Point Lookout is unknown. The hypothesis that the death rate was high—perhaps 25 percent—because President Lincoln had hardened his heart to the plight...

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