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Eighty Acres of Hell (2006)

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Unprepared for a protracted war, the huge number of prisoners of war overwhelmed both sides ability to hold them. Coupled with the bitter animosity toward the enemy this lead to inhuman ... See full summary »


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Title: Eighty Acres of Hell (TV Movie 2006)

Eighty Acres of Hell (TV Movie 2006) on IMDb 8.3/10

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Credited cast:
Thomas Y. Cartwright ...
Director, Carter House, Franklin, TN
William C. Davis ...
Civil War Author / Historian
Joseph G. Dawson ...
Professor of History, Texas A&M University
David Dixon ...
Professor of History, Slippery Rock University, PA
George Levy ...
Author: "To Die in Chicago"
A.J. Roberts ...


Unprepared for a protracted war, the huge number of prisoners of war overwhelmed both sides ability to hold them. Coupled with the bitter animosity toward the enemy this lead to inhuman conditions in prisoner of war camps. This program tells the history of the worst of the Union prison camps, Camp Douglas, in the context of the attitudes and events outside the camp. Written by David Foss

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$1,500,000 (estimated)

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1.33 : 1
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Eye Opener
5 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary (with actors dramatizing some scenes) tells the story of the "Andersonville of the North," the Civil War's Camp Douglas in Chicago. About one third of all of the camp's POWs died there, sometimes due to deliberate torture and often from malnutrition and disease. Some inmates resorted to eating rats.

This is a fairly well-executed (if typical) combination of re-enactment, talking heads, archival photos, maps, narrative (including excerpts from eyewitness accounts), and footage of whatever physical evidence still exists, which consists of the cemetery where many of the Confederates inmates are buried in Chicago. Fortunately, there are almost no shots of the same images over and over and over which used to be typical of these kinds of projects. The use of non-speaking re-enactors is liberally used instead. Well done--even though commandant B.J. Sweet's beard is the second-most obvious fake I have ever seen.

A number of little-known but noteworthy facts turn up such as that Colonel Sweet put the city of Chicago under martial law and actually jailed civilians in his camp. These civilians were tried by military tribunal. After the war, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that these military trials of civilians had been unconstitutional. Too late, because some of the civilians had already died in Sweet's hell-hole.

The contrast pointed up at the end of the film says it all: While the commandant of the Confederates' Andersonville POW camp in Georgia was hanged, the far worse commandant of Camp Douglas in Chicago was promoted to brigadier general!

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