Civil War Wiki
1st edition cover
Author MacKinlay Kantor
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Historical novel
Publisher Penguin Books
Publication date 1955
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Andersonville is a novel by MacKinlay Kantor concerning the Confederate prisoner of war camp, Andersonville prison, during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The novel was originally published in 1955 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year.

Plot summary[]

The novel interweaves the stories of real and fictional characters. It is told from many points of view, including that of Henry Wirz, the camp commandant, who was later executed. It also features William Collins, a Union soldier and one of the leaders of the "Raiders". The "Raiders" are a gang of thugs, mainly bounty jumpers who steal from their fellow prisoners and lead comfortable lives while other prisoners die of starvation and disease. Other characters include numerous ordinary prisoners of war, the camp physician/doctor, a nearby plantation owner, guards and Confederate civilians in the area near the prison.

Andersonville is clearly based on prisoner memoirs, most notably Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons by John McElroy. Henry Wirz, who received an injury earlier in the war and never recovered properly, is portrayed not as an inhuman fiend but as a sick man struggling with a job beyond his capacities.

Kantor's novel was not the basis for a 1996 television mini-series entitled "Andersonville". Although Kantor did sell the motion picture rights of his novel to one of the major Hollywood studios in the 1950s, it was never produced. Kantor's novel and the television movie of the same name are two separate properties.

Characters in "Andersonville"[]

Real people who are mentioned include:

  • William Collins (Union prisoner, "Raider" leader executed by fellow prisoners)
  • John Winder (Confederate general in charge of prisoners-of-war)
  • John L. Ransom (1843-1919) (Union prisoner), a printer from Jackson, Michigan, who kept a detailed diary of his capture, imprisonment, and escape. This was published as Andersonville Diary.

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-ach |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
A Fable
by William Faulkner
|width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1956 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
no award given (1957)
A Death in the Family
by James Agee (1958)
|- |}