The following neo-Confederate hooey was posted on Facebook today:
The legacy of Captain Henry Wirz should be rewritten. This man was a hero for doing the best he could. And, on his final night before his execution, Stanton sent govt agents to Wirz`s cell offering a bribe to for liberty if he implicated President Davis for Andersonvilles problems. Wirz stood strong to his values with integrity and chose death before excepting a bribe against Davis, even though he was completely innocent himself…..This is just another example how evil and devious Stanton really was to try and bribe Capt Wirz into lying against President Davis….God bless Captain Wirz, you were a hero for that act alone!
This is, of course, a mainstay of neo-Confederate doctrine. As it goes, Wirz was a hero and martyr, and only the wardens of Elmira and the other Union POW camps were war criminals. The heroic Wirz, by contrast, maintained his heroic character by refusing to implicate Jefferson Davis. So, therefore, his war crimes weren’t so bad. Ummmm…no.
As I said, this is a mainstay of neo-Confederate doctrine. Try this one on for size, which appears on a prominent neo-Confederate website, that of the Georgia Heritage Council:
A Confederate History Minute (9) – by Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
Captain Henry Wirz, Confederate Hero and Martyr
Captain Henry Wirz was born, Hartman Heinrich Wirz in November 1823, in Zurich, Switzerland where his father, Abraham Wirz was highly respected.
At the outbreak of the War Between the States, Wirz enlisted in the Fourth Louisiana infantry on June 16, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant a year later and was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines. He never recovered from the injury to his left wrist and it caused him great pain for the rest of his life.
Wirz was promoted to Captain on June 12, 1862 and was first detailed to General John Winder where he was given command of a Confederate military prison in Richmond, Virginia.
After serving a year as special emissary to President Jefferson Davis in Paris and Berlin, on March 27, 1864, he was installed as commandant of Andersonville Prison at Fort Sumter in Georgia. Wirz did the best he was able to do with many Union prisoners and the little food and medicine. It is written that the guards got the same food and medicine as the prisoners.
The Confederacy sent a distress message to Union President Abraham Lincoln and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The South pleaded for an exchange of Confederate and Union prisoners. Lincoln and Grant, however, refused believing the Union prisoners might go home but the Confederate prisoners might go back to fight.
Captain Henry Wirz was unfairly charged of war crimes and it is written that no witnesses for the defense were allowed to testify. Among those who would have is a Union soldier who was a prisoner at the prison.
For over 30 years there have been efforts to exonerate the good name of Captain Henry Wirz. There is an annual memorial service to Wirz on the Sunday nearest November 10th each year in Andersonville, Georgia, at the monument to Wirz placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (Georgia Division).
This sort of rewriting of history really is appalling. Wirz was hanged for a reason. He was neither a hero nor a martyr. He was a war criminal. Casting him in any other light is just plain wrong, and is something we need to remain constantly vigilant in battling. Call these neo-Confederate revisionists on their nonsensical hooey. Don’t let them get away with it.Scridb filter