40th annual Capt. Henry Wirz Memorial Service set for Nov. 1

Published 1:04 pm Saturday, October 24, 2015

ANDERSONVILLE — The Capt. Henry Wirz Sesquicentennial Memorial Service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1 in the town of Andersonville. The public is invited. In case of inclement weather, the service will be held in the Old Village Hall in Andersonville.
The annual memorial services began in 1976, and have been sponsored or co-sponsored (with the United Daughters of the Confederacy) by Alexander H. Stephens Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 78 in Americus.
Guest speaker for this, the 40th service, will be Louisiana author Ronald Kennedy, who along with his twin brother, Donald, wrote the book “The South Was Right,” which has sold over 130,000 copies. They will have copies of the book to sell and autograph.
Prior to the memorial service, the musical group, “A Joyful Noise,” will perform from 2-3 p.m. in Andersonville.
SCV Camp 78 “Muckalee Guards” will perform Honor Guard duties, and will have the closing rifle salute at the Wirz Monument.
Leland Park from North Carolina and son of “real son” Arthur Park, will also attend. Arthur Park instigated the first memorial service in Andersonville in 1976.
Also expected to attend is Heinrich Wirz from Switzerland, great-grandnephew of Capt. Henry Wirz.
Capt. Henry Wirz was commandant of Andersonville Prison Camp, known as Camp Sumter, during 1864-1865. After the Civil War ended, he was arrested and taken to Washington where he was tried for war crimes before a military tribunal.  He was made a scapegoat for the South, found guilty and hanged on Nov. 10, 1865. His body was dismembered and parts of it were exhibited about the country. Four years later a few of his bones were collected and buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington. Some of his bones are still being exhibited in a museum in Maryland.
In 1977 the National SCV meeting in Dallas, Texas, declared Capt. Henry Wirz a Confederate hero/martyr.
“We have been contacted by people from all over Georgia who plan to attend the memorial service, and we are delighted there is so much interest in it,” said James Gaston, chairman of the Capt. Wirz Memorial Committee. “One couple said they were coming 850 miles from Missouri to attend. Citizens from several other states have said they were coming.”
For more information, contact James Gaston at gaston7460@bellsouth.net or at 229-924-7460.