The Effort Required to Support Andersonville
   The prison for Union enlisted men at Anderson, Georgia is well known for its ghastly living conditions and high mortality rate. Its commander was the only person executed after the war for what we would call war crimes -- though the trial was more a show trial than a judicial exercise.
   I've just finished reading William Marvel's Andersonville -- the Last Depot. As the subtitle suggests, there is a lot of information about Confederate railroads, and their use, in the book. Below, I have indicated how much strain the Andersonville prison camp put on the railroad system, using information from the book.
   About 45,000 men entered the prison as prisoners during its life (from February, 1864 to April, 1865). The great majority were brought by railroad, usually from Virginia. Their departure was designed to relieve the need to transport food to Richmond to feed prisoners and to get this dangerous group of men out of the nation's capital before there was an uprising or breakout there.
   Prisoners were usually sent in groups of about 600 -- 50 men to a box car -- so 12 prisoner cars per train. Guards probably required another one or two cars. This required a total of about 900 cars for prisoners and 75 to 150 for guards in a total of about 75 trains. Another 700 cars for prisoners and 60 to 100 cars for guards were required for the 60 or so trains required to remove the prisoners away from Sherman's threat in late 1864.
   Each train was required for several days (the requirement remained, though prisoners were moved from train to train as they move from one railroad company to another). The route from Richmond consumed 5 to 6 days and was initially as follows:
Segment Railroad Company
Richmond to Petersburg Richmond & Petersburg
Petersburg to Weldon Petersburg
Weldon to Raleigh Raleigh & Gaston
Raleigh to Charlotte North Carolina
Charlotte to Columbia Charlotte & South Carolina
Columbia to Augusta South Carolina
Augusta to Millen Augusta & Savannah
Millen to Macon Central (of Georgia)
Macon to Andersonville South Western
   Once the Piedmont Railroad was completed, the route was from Richmond to Danville on the Richmond & Danville Railroad, then Danville to Greensboro on the Piedmont Railroad, then to Charlotte on the North Carolina Railroad and the rest of the way as before
   The later trips to Millen, Savannah, Florence and elsewhere lasted 2 to 4 days.
   Fortunately for the railroad system, the route from Richmond to Andersonville was almost exactly the reverse of the route of the food from southwestern Georgia to Richmond, so the empty food trains could be used to haul the prisoners.
   The other big demand caused by Andersonville was the requirement to ship in food. My estimate is that at least one train of 13 cars was required every week to bring in the food. (As Marvel shows, the high death rate was not from starvation, but from dysentery and scurvy -- there was enough bulk, but not the right variety of food.)