This photo and the story behind it seem very appropriate for Thanksgiving Day. The story from WyoJones Flickr page:
“Some say it was a spring that had been buried during construction of the prison, others hold it was a new spring but regardless it was in the minds of many a direct answer to earnest prayer. Consider the testimony of S.E. Lookingbill of Company C 6th Maryland Vol., Inf., 2nd Brigade 3 Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, who was a eyewitness to the miracle: âThere has been a great deal written about Providence Spring and what caused the water to come out of the earth at this place. I will state that I was there at the time God gave this spring to us, and this spring came through prayer for water.
The water furnished the stockade by the branch became so unfit from the filth on the outside and from the cook house and stables that there was a general cry for water from all over the camp and God heard the cries of his people and gave them Providence Spring. The Confederates at the time, and even to this day, call this Providence Spring, and say that God answered the soldiers’ prayer for water.â
The sudden appearance of the spring at the western wall of the stockade in the summer of 1864 was a treasured and sacred memory of many Union survivors of the prison. By the 1880s, visiting the site of the spring was an important Memorial Day tradition. Following the initial preservation of the prison site in the 1890s by the Grand Army of the Republic, the Woman’s Relief Corps arranged for the Spring House to cover the site of the spring. The Providence Spring House was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1901.
These are some of the inscriptions on the walls of The Spring House : “The Prisoners’ cry of thirst rang up to Heaven; God heard, and with His thunder cleft the earth and poured his sweet water came rushing here.” “God smote the hillside and gave them drink, August 16, 1864. These inscriptions reveal how the inmates felt about the spring and why it was such an important place to them even after the war.
This photo shows pools in the stream of water that come from Providence Spring. The story of the spring is one of the most inspiring stories to come from Andersonville. In late February 1864, Union prisoners began arriving at the Confederate prisoner of war camp, Camp Sumter, located in Andersonville, Georgia. By June the prison population numbered over 20,000. The Confederate jailers decided that a larger prison was needed and started in the middle of June to enlarge the prison. The walls were that originally encompassed 10 acres were expanded to include 26.5 acres over the period of 14 days. Prisoners did the work. The prison designed to hold around 10,000 POWs held 33,000 by August.
The Stockade Branch of Sweetwater Creek was the source of drinking water as well as all water used by the prisoners. With the overcrowding it soon became polluted by human wastes and other pollutants. As a result Diarrhea and dysentery spread throughout the camp. These conditions along with other diseases and malnutrition resulted in a high mortality rate.
Prayers were offered through out the camp by those who were suffering, According to eyewitness accounts passed down to relatives and written in journals, a group of prisoners decided they would pray to God for pure water and would not stop until their prayers were answered. The group prayed for hours. The result was what many men that were there saw as a miracle and a direct answer to prayer. On August 16,1864 witnesses report a deafening noise like thunder or an earthquake that shook the earth, At a spot where some of the men were kneeling, a freshwater spring burst out of the ground. Considering this phenomenon a providential act of God that was a direct answer to prayer, both prisoner and jailer called the spring and stream Providence Spring.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I did. 🙂