Summary

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Union) 1
Branch:
Navy 1
Rank:
Ordinary Seaman 1
Death:
18 Apr 1864 1
Andersonville (Sumter County) Sumter County Georgia, USA 2
More…

Related Pages

+
View more similar pages

Pictures & Records (22)

Add Show More

Personal Details

Edit
Full Name:
John Keefe 1
Death:
18 Apr 1864 1
Andersonville (Sumter County) Sumter County Georgia, USA 2
Cause: dysentery 2
Death:
18 Apr 1864 1
Burial:
Burial Place: Andersonville National Cemetery Andersonville (Sumter County) Sumter County Georgia, USA Plot: 602 2
Edit

Civil War (Union) 1

Branch:
Navy 1
Rank:
Ordinary Seaman 1
Casualty Type:
Deaths Due To Enemy Action 1
Ship or Station:
Housatonic 1

Looking for more information about John Keefe?

Search through millions of records to find out more.

Stories

Seaman John Keefe Naavy

Page 1
21 images

John Keefe was age 21 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on August 12, 1862, at Boston, Massachusetts, for a term of one year, as an Ordinary Seaman, to the credit of Lawrence, Massachusetts. He served on the Receiving Ship OHIO and the famous U.S.S. HOUSATONIC. He was taken prisoner on September 8, 1863, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and died of dysentery as a Prisoner of War at Camp Sumter, Andersonville, Georgia.

 

Code No: 10602
Grave No: 602
Last Name: Keefe
First Name: John Keefe
Rank: Seaman
Company:
Regiment:
State: U.S.
Branch Of Service : NAVY
Date of Death: 4/18/1864
Cause of Death: Dysentery
Remarks* Served on U.S.S. Housatonic
Reference: p 72 [3]; p 248 [39], MA ADG RPT, VOL VIII: 248
Place Captured: Fort Sumpter, South Carolina
Date Captured: 9/8/1863
Alternate Names:
Status:
Muster date:
Age at Muster:
More Information Available :

Andersonville National Historic Site

Andersonville National Historic Site From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Andersonville National Historic Site U.S. National Register of Historic Places U.S. Historic district U.S. National Historic Site Reconstruction of a section of the stockade wall Location: Macon / Sumter counties, Georgia, USA Nearest city: Andersonville, Georgia, Americus, Georgia Coordinates: 32°12′23″N 84°7′24″WCoordinates: 32°12′23″N 84°7′24″W Area: 514 acres (208 ha)[3] Built: April 1864 Visitation: 1,436,759 (2011)[4] Governing body: National Park Service NRHP Reference#: 70000070[1][2] Significant dates Added to NRHP: October 16, 1970 Designated NHS: October 16, 1970

The Andersonville National Historic Site, located near Andersonville, Georgia, preserves the former Camp Sumter (also known as Andersonville Prison), a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp during the American Civil War. Most of the site lies in southwestern Macon County, adjacent to the east side of the town of Andersonville. As well as the former prison, the site also contains the Andersonville National Cemetery and the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Of the approximately 45,000 Union prisoners held at Camp Sumter during the war, nearly 13,000 died of starvation, malnutrition, diarrhea or communicable diseases.[5]

Contents Conditions A depiction of Andersonville Prison by John L. Ransom, author of Andersonville Diary, Escape and List of the Dead.
[show]Legend 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

The prison, which opened in February 1864,[6] originally covered about 16.5 acres (67,000 m2) of land enclosed by a 15-foot (4.6 m) high stockade. In June 1864 it was enlarged to 26.5 acres (107,000 m2). The stockade was in the shape of a rectangle 1,620 feet (490 m) by 779 feet (237 m). There were two entrances on the west side of the stockade, known as "north entrance" and "south entrance".[7]

A prisoner described his entry into the prison camp:

As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. "Can this be hell?" "God protect us!" and all thought that He alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. In the center of the whole was a swamp, occupying about three or four acres of the narrowed limits, and a part of this marshy place had been used by the prisoners as a sink, and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating. The ground allotted to our ninety was near the edge of this plague-spot, and how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then.[8]

Further descriptions of the camp can be found in the diary of Ransom Chadwick, a member of the 85th New York Infantry Regiment. Chadwick and his regimental mates were taken to the Andersonville Prison, arriving on April 30, 1864.[9]

Father Peter Whelan arrived on 16 June 1864 to muster the resources of the church and help provide relief to the prisoners.

At Andersonville, a light fence known as "the dead line" was erected approximately 19 feet (5.8 m) inside the stockade wall. It demarcated a no-man's land that kept prisoners away from the stockade wall, which was made of rough-hewn logs about 16 feet (4.9 m) high.[10] Anyone crossing or even touching this "dead line" was shot without warning by sentries in the pigeon roosts.

Andersonville prisoners and tents, southwest view showing the dead-line, August 17, 1864.

At this time in the war, Andersonville Prison was frequently undersupplied with food. This applied both to prisoners and the Confederate personnel within the fort. Even when sufficient quantities were available, the supplies were of poor quality and poorly prepared. During the summer of 1864 Union prisoners suffered greatly from hunger, exposure and disease. Within seven months, about a third of them died from what was diagnosed as dysentery and scurvy and were buried in mass graves, the standard practice by Confederate prison authorities at Andersonville. In 1864 the Confederate Surgeon General asked Joseph Jones, an expert on infectious disease, to investigate the high mortality rate at the camp. He concluded that it was due to "scorbutic dysentery" (bloody diarrhea caused by vitamin C deficiency), yet in hindsight it is likely that the cause of fatal emaciation and diarrhea was rampant hookworm disease, a condition not recognized or known during the Civil War.[11]

The water supply from Stockade Creek became polluted when too many Union prisoners were housed by the Confederate authorities within the prison walls. Part of the creek was used as a sink and the men were forced to wash themselves in the creek.

A Union soldier who survived

The guards, disease, starvation and exposure were not all that prisoners had to deal with. A group of prisoners, calling themselves the Andersonville Raiders, attacked their fellow inmates to steal food, jewelry, money and clothing. They were armed mostly with clubs and killed to get what they wanted. Another group rose up, organized by Peter "Big Pete" Aubrey, to stop the larceny, calling themselves "Regulators". They caught nearly all of the Raiders, who were then tried by the Regulators' judge, Peter McCullough, and jury, selected from a group of new prisoners. This jury, upon finding the Raiders guilty, set punishment that included running the gauntlet, being sent to the stocks, ball and chain and, in six cases, hanging.[12]

The conditions were so poor that in July 1864 Captain Wirz paroled five Union soldiers to deliver a petition signed by the majority of Andersonville's prisoners asking that the Union reinstate prisoner exchanges. The request in the petition was denied and the Union soldiers, who had sworn to do so, returned to report this to their comrades.[13]

In the latter part of the summer of 1864 the Confederacy offered to unconditionally release prisoners if the Union would send ships (Andersonville is inland, with access possible only via rail and road) to retrieve them. In the autumn of 1864, after the capture of Atlanta, all the prisoners who were well enough to be moved were sent to Millen, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina. At Millen, better arrangements prevailed, and after General William Tecumseh Sherman began his march to the sea, the prisoners were returned to Andersonville, where conditions were somewhat improved.

During the war, 45,000 prisoners were received at Andersonville prison, and of these nearly 13,000 died.[5] The nature of the deaths and the reasons for them are a continuing source of controversy among historians. Some contend that they were a result of deliberate Confederate war crimes toward Union prisoners and others that they were the result of disease promoted by severe overcrowding, the shortage of food in the Confederate States, the incompetence of the prison officials, and the refusal of Union authorities to reinstate the prisoner exchange, thus overfilling the stockade.[14]

A young Union prisoner, Dorence Atwater, had been chosen to record the names and numbers of the dead at Andersonville for the use of the Confederacy and the federal government after the war ended. He believed the federal government would never see the list, and was right in this assumption, as it turned out. He sat next to Henry Wirz, who was in charge of the prison pen, and secretly kept his own list among other papers. When Atwater was released, he put the list in his bag and took it through the lines without being caught. It was published by the New York Tribune when Horace Greeley, the owner, learned that the federal government had refused and given Atwater much grief. It was Atwater's opinion that Andersonville was indeed trying to make soldiers unfit to fight.[15]

Andersonville's decrepit conditions were chronicled in the diary of P.O.W. Newell Burch. Burch of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry, was captured on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned at Belle Isle and then Andersonville. He is credited with being the longest held Union prisoner of war during the Civil War, a total of 661 days in Confederate hands.[16] His diary is in the collection of the Dunn County Historical Society in Menomonie, Wisconsin, and a mimeographed copy is in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.[17]

Aftermath

Andersonville Prison was liberated in May 1865.[18]

Some of the monuments at Andersonville

After the war Henry Wirz, commandant of the inner stockade at Camp Sumter, was tried by a military tribunal on charges of conspiracy and murder. The trial was presided over by Union General Lew Wallace and featured chief Judge Advocate General (JAG) prosecutor Norton Parker Chipman.

A number of former prisoners testified on conditions at Andersonville, many accusing Wirz of specific acts of cruelty, for some of which Wirz was not even present in the camp. The court also considered official correspondence from captured Confederate records. Perhaps the most damaging was a letter to the Confederate surgeon general by Dr. James Jones, who in 1864 was sent by Richmond to investigate conditions at Camp Sumter.[19] Jones had been appalled by what he found and his graphically detailed report to his superiors all but closed the case for the prosecution. Wirz presented evidence that he pleaded to Confederate authorities to try to get more food and tried to improve the conditions for the prisoners inside.

Wirz was found guilty and was sentenced to death, and on November 10, 1865, he was hanged. Wirz was the only Confederate official to be tried and convicted of war crimes resulting from the Civil War (but see reference to Champ Ferguson). The revelation of the prisoners' sufferings was one of the factors that shaped public opinion in the North regarding the South after the close of the Civil War.[citation needed]

In 1890 the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Georgia, bought the site of Andersonville Prison through membership and subscriptions.[20] In 1910 the site was donated to the federal government by the Woman's Relief Corps[21] (auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic).[22]

National Prisoner of War Museum

The National Prisoner of War Museum opened in 1998 as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Exhibits use art, photographs, displays and video presentations to focus on the capture, living conditions, hardships and experiences of American prisoners of war in all periods. The museum also serves as the park's visitor center.[23]

Andersonville National Cemetery Andersonville National Cemetery

The cemetery is the final resting place for the Union prisoners who died while being held at Camp Sumter/Andersonville as POWs. The prisoners' burial ground at Camp Sumter has been made a national cemetery. It contains 13,714 graves, of which 921 are marked "unknown".

As a National Cemetery, it is currently an honored burial place for more recent veterans and their dependents.

Historic Prison Site

Visitors can walk the 26.5 acres (10.7 ha) site of Camp Sumter, which has been outlined with double rows of white posts. Two sections of the stockade wall have been reconstructed, the north gate and the northeast corner.

Depictions in popular culture See also

 

USS Housatonic (1861)

USS Housatonic (1861) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For other ships of the same name, see USS Housatonic. Career Name: USS Housatonic Namesake: The Housatonic River Builder: Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts Launched: 20 November 1861 Sponsored by: Miss Jane Coffin Colby and Miss Susan Paters Hudson Commissioned: 29 August 1862 Fate: Sunk 17 February 1864 General characteristics Type: Screw sloop Displacement: 1,240 long tons (1,260 t) Length: 205 ft (62 m) Beam: 38 ft (12 m) Draft: 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m) Propulsion: Sail and steam Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) Complement: 160 officers and enlisted Armament: 1 × 100-pounder (45 kg) Parrott rifle
3 × 30-pounder (14 kg) Parrott rifles
1 × 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren smoothbore
2 × 32-pounders (15 kg)
2 × 24-pounder (11 kg) howitzers
1 × 12-pounder (5 kg) howitzer
1 × 12-pounder (5 kg) rifle

The first USS Housatonic was a screw sloop-of-war of the United States Navy, named for the Housatonic River of New England which rises in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and flows southward into Connecticut before emptying into Long Island Sound a little east of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Housatonic was the first ship in history to be sunk by a submarine.

Housatonic was launched on 20 November 1861, by the Boston Navy Yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts, sponsored by Miss Jane Coffin Colby and Miss Susan Paters Hudson; and commissioned there on 29 August 1862, with Commander William Rogers Taylor in command. Housatonic was one of four sister ships which included USS Adirondack, USS Ossipee, and USS Juniata.

Contents Service history Blockading Charleston

Housatonic departed Boston on 11 September and arrived at Charleston on 19 September to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She took station outside the bar.

Capture of the Princess Royal

On 29 January 1863, her boats, aided by those of USS Augusta, USS G. W. Blunt, and USS America, boarded and refloated the iron steamer Princess Royal. The gunboat Unadilla had driven the blockade runner ashore as she attempted to slip into Charleston from England with a cargo consisting of two marine engines destined for Confederate ironclads and a large quantity of ordnance and ammunition. These imports were of such great potential value to the South that they have been called "the war's most important single cargo of contraband."

Confederate counter-attack

It is possibly in the hope of recovering this invaluable prize that the Confederate ironclad rams CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State slipped out of the main ship channel of Charleston Harbor to attack the Union blockading fleet in the early morning fog two days later. They rammed Mercedita, forcing her to strike her colors "in a sinking and perfectly defenseless condition", and moved on to cripple Keystone State. Gunfire from the rams also damaged Quaker City and Augusta before the Confederate ships withdrew under fire from Housatonic to the protection of shore batteries.

Capture of the Georgiana

On 19 March 1863, Housatonic and Wissahickon, responding to signal flares sent up by America, chased the 407 ton iron-hulled blockade runner SS Georgiana ashore on Long Island, South Carolina. The Georgiana's cargo of munitions, medicine and merchandise was then valued at over $1,000,000. The Georgiana was described in contemporary dispatches and newspaper accounts as more powerful than the Confederate cruisers Alabama, Shenandoah, and Florida. This was a serious and very important blow to the Confederacy. The wreck of the Georgiana was discovered by pioneer underwater archaeologist Lee Spence in 1965.

Further captures, and attacks on Charleston

Housatonic captured the sloop Neptune on 19 April as she attempted to run out of Charleston with a cargo of cotton and turpentine. She was credited with assisting in the capture of the steamer Seesh on 15 May. Howitzers mounted in Housatonic's boats joined in the attack on Fort Wagner on 10 July, which began the continuing bombardment of the Southern works at Charleston. In ensuing months her crew repeatedly manned boats which shelled the shoreline, patrolled close ashore gathering valuable information, and landed troops for raids against the outer defenses of Charleston.

Sunk in the first submarine attack Main article: Sinking of USS Housatonic

Meanwhile Housatonic, commanded by Charles Pickering, maintained her station in the blockade outside the bar until just before 9 pm, 17 February 1864. Her officer of the deck sighted an object in the water 100 yards off, approaching the ship. "It had the appearance of a plank moving in the water," he later reported. Although the chain was slipped, the engine backed, and all hands were called to quarters, it was too late. Within two minutes of the first sighting, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley rammed her spar torpedo into Housatonic's starboard side, forward of the mizzenmast, in history's first successful submarine attack on a warship. Before the rapidly sinking ship went down, the crew managed to lower two boats which took all the men they could hold; most others saved themselves by climbing into the rigging which remained above water after the stricken ship settled on the bottom. Two officers and three men in Housatonic died. The Confederate submarine escaped but was lost with all hands not long after this action; new evidence announced by archaeologists in 2013 indicates that the submarine may have been much closer to the point of detonation that previously realized, thus damaging the submarine as well.[1]

The wreck of Housatonic was largely scrapped in the 1870s–1890s and her location was eventually removed from coastal navigation charts and lost to history. The anchor of Housatonic can be found at the office of Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms.

 

About this Memorial Page

Anyone can contribute to this page. Please sign in or sign up—it's free.

Created:
Modified:
Page Views:
863 total (24 this week)

×