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Henry Wirz Trial: 1865

Wirz Tried For War Crimes

General James H. Wilson arrested Wirz and kept him imprisoned at Wilson's headquarters. In May 1865 Wirz was taken under heavy guard to Washington, D.C., for trial. The escort was not so much to prevent Wirz from escaping, but to protect him from being killed en route by his ex-prisoners. To try Wirz, the military authorities in Washington formed a commission, comprised of Major General Lew Wallace, Brevet Major General L. Thomas, Brevet Major General G. Mott, Brigadier General Francis Fessenden, Brigadier General A. S. Bragg, Brevet Brigadier General John F. Ballior, Brevet Colonel T. Allcock, and Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Stibbs. The prosecutor was Judge Advocate Colonel N. P. Chipman.

Wirz's trial began August 23, 1865. His chief defense lawyer was Louis Schade. The prosecution opened the case with witnesses on Wirz's authority as commandant of Andersonville. Ex-Confederate officers' testimony quickly established that Confederate authorities had given Wirz supreme authority over the prison camp. The prosecution could now make its case that, having had the power to alleviate conditions at the prison camp, by not doing so Wirz was responsible for the prisoners' suffering.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Henry Wirz Trial: 1865 - Wirz Tried For War Crimes, Union Prisoners' Testimony Destroys Wirz, Suggestions For Further Reading