Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review


Albert Winkler


Court, Conviction, Descent


While many Americans of Swiss descent have made valuable contributions

to the development of the United States, Henry Wirz has often

been viewed with disdain. He was the commander of the infamous Andersonville

prison where nearly 13,000 Union prisoners died during the

American Civil War, and he was one of the two men executed for war

crimes relating to that conflict. Despite his conviction in court, much

controversy surrounds his actions at Andersonville, and many writers

have either condemned or praised him. This paper will review the career

of Henry Wirz, examine his conduct at Andersonville, and analyze his

trial to see if he was fairly convicted, or if he was condemned for the

need of a scapegoat.