Saturday, January 26, 2008

The last words of Henry Wirz: a letter to his lawyer, Louis Scahde

Note: This passage originally appeared in Page, J.M. (1908). The True Story of Andersonville Prison: a Defense of Major Henry Wirz. New York, Neale Publishing Company.

On the morning of November 10, 1865, a few hours before he mounted the scaffold, Major Wirz penned the following pathetic letter to his faithful friend and counsel:

Old Capitol Prison

Washington, D.C., november 10, 1865

Dear Mr. Louis Schade,

It is the last time I address myself to you. What I have said often and often I repeat -- accept my thanks, my sincere, heartful thanks, for all you have done for me. May God reward you. I cannot.

I still have something more to ask of you, and I am confident you will not refuse to receive my dying request. Please help my poor family, my dear wife and children. War, cruelest, has swept everything from me, and to-day my wife and children are beggars!

My life is demanded as an atonement. I am willing to give it, and I hope that after a while i will be judged differently from what I am now. If any one thought to come to the relief of my family, it is the people of the South, for whose sake i have sacrificed all. I know you will excuse me for troubling you again.

Farewell, dear sir. May God bless you.

Yours Thankfully,
H. Wirz

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