From Marion County, Illinois to Camp Sumter, Georgia: A Tribute to Joseph M. Justice

This ramble of mine has been shared in another format, but bears repeating here.  More information has been added and additional media has been included in this rendering.  Joseph M. Justice was the son of Michael Justice and Sarah Wilkins.  Joseph was born in Marion County, Illinois in 1845, and his grandfather was Abraham Justice of Morgan County, Tennessee.  On August 21, 1862, Private Joseph M. Justice enlisted in Company K, 111th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Union Army to fight in the American Civil War.  The 111th was commanded by General John A. Logan who reported to William Tecumseh Sherman.  In early May of 1864, the regiment advanced into northern Georgia and was involved in the Battle of Resaca on May 14.  They also took part in the Battle of Dallas toward the end of May, then in early June were involved in the Battle of New Hope Church.  On June 27, 1864, the regiment advanced to Kennesaw Mountain and began a battle with the Confederates that continued for most of a month.  On July 22, 1864, thinking that the Confederates had retreated, the regiment advanced toward Atlanta and was ambushed by the Confederate Infantry.  The casualties in the 111th Regiment were high and about 81 soldiers were captured by the Confederate forces.  Among those captured was PVT Joseph Justice.  Those captured were marched to Camp Sumter, a prisoner of war camp also known as Andersonville Prison.

Andersonville Prison 001

A birdseye view of Andersonville Prison, extremely overcrowded.

Andersonville Prison 002

A closeup view of how the POW’s were confined.

At the time Joseph arrived as a POW at Andersonville, there were approximately 26,000 prisoners confined in a 15′ high stockade covering about 23 acres.  The prison was never intended to house more than 9,000 or 10,000, but by August there were approximately 33,000 POW’s confined there.  Conditions at the POW camp were horrific.  Unless the prisoners were able to construct a makeshift tent to block the sun, they were exposed to its full onslaught.  Lice and fleas covered everything in the camp.  Rations were extremely limited, and water supplies for the most part were unsanitary.  Altogether, about 13,000 of the 45,000 POW’s who were brought in to the camp during its existence died from disease, wounds, or starvation.  Among the causes of death attributed to disease were diptheria, dysentery, diarrhea, enteritis, gastritis, hepatitis, nephritis, jaundice, pleurisy, measles, scurvy, smallpox, and typhoid.  Most of these are associated with unsanitary water supplies or lack of the right kinds of foods.  On December 18, 1864, Private Joseph M. Justice died in Andersonville Prison.  He was buried in a temporary grave at Andersonville.  After the end of the war, Joseph’s remains were relocated to the National Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland.  He is buried in Section B, Site 747 in the National Cemetery.  Joseph M Justice 001

Pension Application 001

1889 Application for Pension by Joseph’s father. Unsure if he ever received any compensation.

On November 10, 1865, the commander of Camp Sumter, Captain Henry Wirz, was hanged after being found guilty of war crimes.  Annapolis 001

The American Red Cross was instrumental in marking the graves of the prisoners who died at Andersonville.  Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was largely responsible for the preservation of Andersonville as a national cemetery.  Eventually the old prison was named as Andersonville National Historic Site.

This ramble by Uncle Thereisno Justice is posted in honor of the sacrifice of Private Joseph M. Justice, a true patriot.  I’ll catch you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno

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