Friday, March 4, 2011

Confederate Images: Capt. Henry Wirz

A brief biography of Capt. Wirz has appeared in the Lost Cause previously (Winter 2006), but with the pictures from his wife Elizabeth’s marker dedication in this issue (page 4), we thought it appropriate to give here the specifics of Capt. Wirz’ military record:

Capt. Henry Wirz
Born: November 25, 1823 Executed: November 10,1865
Buried: Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Washington, D. C.

1840-1849: European military service
1849: Arrives in America: practitioner of homeopathic (treating disease by giving drugs in minute doses which provide symptoms similar to those of the disease) medicine and a bartender in Louisville, KY.
1854: Marries the widow Elizabeth Wolfe in Cadiz, KY.
1860: Census shows Wirz to be a physician and gentlemen farmer Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana.
May 1861: Enlists as a private in Madison Infantry, which departs for Richmond, Virginia.
July 10, 1861: Major Waddill begins organizing the 4th Battalion Infantry Louisiana Volunteers, five companies of 561 men. Madison Infantry becomes company A. Various companies are assigned duty as body guards to President Jefferson Davis and as guards to Libby Prison and other sites. The three volume alphabetical roster of Confederate Soldiers from Louisiana does not include Wirz in the musters. The author’s theory is that Wirz was not on the muster rolls because he had been placed on detached service while still a member of the State Troops, Madison Infantry, thus he was a member of the Provisional Army Confederate States.
August 26,1861: Special Order # 134, Sec. of War: “ Private Henry Wirz, of the Madison Infantry Louisiana Volunteers will report for duty to General J. H. Winder in this city." ( Richmond).
September 19, 1861: Special Order # 157: Company A 4th Battalion Louisiana Infantry is mustered into the Confederate Army. Henry Wirz is not on the rolls as he is on detached duty as a clerk in the Provost Marshal office.
September 25, 1861: Special Order # 162: The 4th Battalion is sent to Lewisburg, VA to report to General Floyd. Takes part in the Kanawha Campaign in western Virginia.
November 1- 10, 1861: skirmishes Cotton Hill.
November 30, 1861: Special Order # 248: The 4th Battalion LA. Infantry is ordered to return to Richmond and report to General Winder.
December 14, 1861: Special Order # 266: The 4th Battalion LA. Infantry is ordered to leave Richmond and report to General Robert E. Lee, @ Coosawatchie, South Carolina. “ The members of this battalion who have been detached as a guard to prisoners at Tuscaloosa Ala. will rejoin their proper companies so soon as they are relieved from that duty.” Henry Wirz still on detached duty has the rank of Sergeant, and is Assistant Commander of the Tuscaloosa Alabama Military Prison until recalled to Richmond in 1862.
May 31, 1862: Sergeant Wirz takes part in the Seven Pines Battle and is severely wounded in the right arm by a rifle ball. (During these battles before Richmond, all available troops were organized in temporary organizations and dispatched to the front lines as re-enforcements).
June 1862: Wirz is promoted to Captain assistant adjutant General to Brigadier General Winder. Also, Provost Marshal, Manchester, VA.
November 26, 1862: Special Order # 225: Wirz is ordered to AL, GA, LA, MS, and TX to gather records on prisoners of war.
December 1862: Captain Wirz is granted a furlough to go to Europe for surgery on his arm. It is also reported that he was on a mission for President Davis to contact Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John Slidell.
February 1864: Captain Wirz returns from Europe and is assigned to duty Augusta, GA.
April 1864: Captain Wirz becomes Commander of the Military Prison, Camp Sumter a. k. a. Andersonville.

originally published in the Winter, 2007 issue of The Lost Cause

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