John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary

Written by John L. Ransom

“An altogether exciting and unique, almost priceless documentary.” — Library Journal.

Camp Sumter, more commonly known as Andersonville prison, opened in February 1864.

Over the course of the Civil War 45,000 Union prisoners were received at the prison, of which 13,000 would never reach homelands again, as in the abhorrent conditions of the camp they succumbed to malnutrition and disease.

John Ransom, Quartermaster of Company A, 9th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry, had been captured in November 1863.

He would remain in Confederate prisons, including the notorious Andersonville, until his eventual escape in December 1864.

Recording the day-by-day events of life under guard, Ransom notes how his friends around him fought to stay alive or gave up the struggle.

Ransom himself goes through moments of despair when he believes he will not last another day, and only survives through the camaraderie and support of his fellow prisoners.

A whole array of characters are noted through the pages of the diary, from the Andersonville Raiders who were ruthless Union prisoners that persecuted those around them to survive, to more benevolent figures like George Hendryx who was always looking for a way to escape and the Native American Battese who helped Ransom through his darkest days.

“The Civil War produced many diaries, but few as appealing and readable as this one.” — Publishers Weekly.

“A tale of adventure, of suspense from beginning to end, of fierce hate and great love, of the incredible callousness of man and the incredible warmth of man — with the added knowledge that ‘it really happened.'” — Bruce Catton.

“As compelling and powerful as a novel” – Los Angeles Times.

John Ransom was a printer in Jackson, Michigan before the war. He eventually escaped from Confederate prisons and returned to the north. He features as a character in Mackinlay Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Andersonville. His diary was published in 1881. He died at the age of 76 on 23rd September 1919 in Los Angeles County.

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