The Lasting Military and Legal Impact
With the execution of Henry Wirz the desire for vengeance felt in the North apparently died. No additional "conspirators" were tried or even indicted. Henry Wirz became the only person ever to be executed in the United States for war crimes..
Henry Wirz's trial set the precedent
for future war crimes trials and was cited in the war crimes trials following
both World War I and World War II. "I was simply following orders"
was no longer acceptable as a defense when "crimes against humanity"
were committed by soldiers. The Wirz trial clearly provided that there
are limitations to the extent military orders, which violate the rules
of war or common law of humanity, may be followed. It established that
military personnel may be held personally accountable for following such
Text by Jon Rice.