Why only Wirz?
The initial charges and specifications brought against Wirz listed multiple other Confederate military officers and political figures including the Secretary of War and the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, himself. The prosecution was mysteriously told to drop the political figures from the list of charges and specifications. Several explanations can be presented for such action.
The South had only recently fallen and Jefferson Davis as well as the other political figures still commanded great admiration and respect among Southerners. Indictment of Davis would, no doubt, have created great impediments, further delaying peaceful readmission of Southern states following the war. This is particularly true since evidence of conspiracy involvement by Davis relating to Andersonville was non-existent.
Additionally, several officials and Confederate officers had been pardoned. Some, including General Winder, were dead. Others had fled the country to avoid potential imprisonment or worse.
The simple answer is that Wirz could
be found and arrested. Wirz had been the commandant of Andersonville which
was the prison camp having the most deaths of Union soldiers over the shortest
period of time. He was known to the men who were prisoners in Andersonville.
The men blamed him for the conditions and deaths occurring in the prison
and they strongly despised him. The North needed someone to blame and to
take vengeance upon. Wirz was the best candidate for this scapegoating.
Text by Jon Rice.