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Heinrich Hartmann Wirz better known as Henry Wirz (November 25, 1823 – November 10, 1865) was a Swiss-born Confederate officer in the American Civil War. He is best known for his command of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp near Andersonville, Georgia; he was tried and executed after the war for conspiracy and murder relating to his command of the camp.

Some writers have suggested Wirz’s trial was unfair because the South had low food rations and there was a Northern blockade of all medicines, both of which were out of Wirz’s control. Even some of his former prisoners conceded that the low support he received from Confederate government in terms of food, water, and medical supplies made the conditions at Andersonville beyond his scope of responsibility. The trial, one of the nation’s first war crimes tribunals, created enduring moral and legal notions and established the precedent that certain wartime behavior is unacceptable, regardless if committed under the orders of superiors or on one’s own. In a 1980 study, the historian Morgan D. Peoples refers to Wirz as a “scapegoat”. Read more . . .