Confederate Doctor Joseph Jones:
(Sent in September, 1864, by order of the Surgeon-General to investigate conditions at Andersonville - excerpt of his report)
"I carefully analyzed the waters; found them all remarkably pure. The well of water upon the summit of the hill upon which the Confederate General Hospital is situated, is of remarkable purity, and in fact it may be considered as equal to the purest water in the world. The waters of the Sweetwater Creek before entering into the stockade where the Federal prisoners are confined, are equally pure.
The bakery is situated near this stream, and while one of the Confederate regiments is camped on the hill above, these sources of contamination is too far distant to affect the constant flowing waters.
The water from all sources flowing into the stockade is remarkably pure, but that flowing from the stockade are loaded with filth and emit a sickening odor, disgusting and overpowering.
The vegetation of the highlands and hills indicate poverty of soil. The lowgrounds and swamps bordering the streams are clothed with pines and oaks of stunted growth. From this examination there is no recognizable source of disease in the soil and waters of Andersonville.
After examination I was impressed with the belief that this region of country was as healthy as any region of the world situated in the same latitude and at the same elevation above the sea and that this locality chosen by the Confederates for the confinement of Federal prisoners, was much more salubrious than most of the region in Georgia lying to the south and east of it.
The heat caused the rapid decomposition of filthy matter in the stockade area, and this may have been a cause of debility - but the awful mortality must have been due to other causes - crowded condition and lack of medicine rather than to all the elements of climate combined.
No blame can be attached to the Confederate authorities for this great mortality at Andersonville.
In this collection of men from all parts of the civilized world every phase of human character is represented. The stronger preyed upon the weaker, and even the sick, who were unable to defend themselves were robbed of their scanty supplies of food and clothing. Dark stories were afloat of men murdered at night, strangled to death by their comrades for clothing or money. I heard a wounded Federal prisoner accuse his nurse, a fellow prisoner having inoculated his arm with gangrene in order to destroy his life and fall heir to his clothing.
The haggard, distressed countenances of these miserable, complaining, dejected, living skeletons, crying for medical aid and food, and cursing their Government for its refusal to exchange prisoners, and the ghastly corpses, with their glazed eye-balls staring up into vacant space, with flies swarming down open mouths formed a picture of helpless, hopeless misery which it would be impossible to portray by word or brush. As many men as possible were paroled and allowed to follow trades.
The police and hygiene of the hospital was defective in the extreme, but no blame should attach to the Confederate Government, to the commanding officer of to the Confederate guards.
Scurvy was not confined to the prisoners. I saw a well-defined case of scurvy in a surgeon in care of one of the hospitals."
Text by Jon Rice.