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"His name is Mudd", 30 May 2011

The video pins all the deaths and all the poor conditions at Camp Douglas on Colonel Sweet. He was guilty of many of the crimes and errors at the camp, but not all of them. I find him to be more like Andersonville's Wirz than unlike him. Both men were out of touch with reality, plagued by conspiracy theories or in denial. Both were "damaged goods" in a dead-end job.

Sadly, the video tries to downplay conditions at Confederate camps, Andersonville in particular. In fact, the history of Camp Douglas reveals that conditions there were better than at Andersonville. Many of the men in charge at the camp tried to improve conditions. Their most humane and sanitary efforts were thwarted by the War Department on one hand, and a desire for revenge on the other hand. Revenge for conditions in Confederate camps, the news of which leaked freely and flowed North.

There were some beastly sadists in charge of Camp Douglas, but they are given secondary attention in the video.

When statistics are used, they are biased toward the South. The thirty percent death rate statistic is based on billing done by the cemetery that accepted bodies from the camp after the war. However, this being Chicago, it is likely that the bill was inflated and empty boxes were buried to collect the fee. Or that one man's bones filled two boxes.

Camp Douglas and Andersonville were comparable, yet each prison has its own story. To pick a goat and pin all the blame on him is American bloody shirt-waving at its worst. This video is hardly history. It is politics with a goal to polish up the image of the South. By a similar token, the trial and execution of Wirz was a political statement with a goal of tarring the South, even as it justified retributive War Department policies regarding prisoners at places like Camp Douglas.

Although it gets the blood pumping, this piece is unenlightening if viewed as history.