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Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: A Controversial Execution

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 10, 2018 at 7:00 AM

On this day (November 10) in 1865, Captain Henry Wirz was executed by hanging for war crimes against Union soldiers committed while commandant of the Andersonville prison (technically named Camp Sumter). The prison was never completed and the men were housed in a sixteen and a half acre open air stockade in tremendously overcrowded conditions. Wirz was charged with and ultimately convicted of conspiring to harm the health of Union prisoners through torture, great suffering, exposure to the elements in winter and summer, providing impure water and insufficient food, and thirteen acts of personal cruelty including stomping and kicking victims. The execution became controversial when it was learned that the star prosecution witness was not the man he claimed to be and had perjured himself. In addition, critics of the execution pointed out that many of the charges (such as insufficient food and the failure to complete building the prison) resulted from a lack of financial support from the Confederate government and were clearly not the fault of the commandant of the prison. The verdict remains controversial to this day.

Categories: Today in History

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