May 26, 2014

From Great-Grandmother's Scrapbook: A Hero of Andersonville

Great-grandmother Hammer kept detailed scrapbooks and recently my sister gave me one. I glanced through it and found a newspaper clipping that relates to Memorial Day because the holiday has origins in events that honored soldiers who died in the American Civil War.

I don't know why my great-grandmother put this clipping from 1910 in her scrapbook. I do know that she remembered the Civil War because she had mentioned it in her diaries, and her first husband had served in the Union Army.

Hero of Andersonville Pen Dies: Made Secret Records

Dorance Atwater, Who Gave U.S. Government True List of Prisoners Who Died, Succumbs in the West

[Here Dorance is spelled differently than it is in Wikipedia, which spells it Dorence.]

"Mr. Atwater was taken prisoner in February, 1864, and sent to Andersonville prison, where he was detailed as clerk to make a record for the prison of the deaths among the federal prisoners. Mr. Atwater made a duplicate of the list given the prison authorities, keeping it from their knowledge. His list contained 13,000 names."

I looked up Atwater's story on Wikipedia and it is fascinating. He not only smuggled his list out of Andersonville, he later spirited it out of Washington in order to work with Clara Barton to mark graves at Andersonville.


  1. That is neat, I have never heard about that, one of those stories that really makes history interesting.

  2. Your great-grandmother was doing a little history making of her own by keeping such a wonderful newspaper clipping.

  3. what an interesting piece of history. neat that you have her scrapbook.

  4. Wow! What a great find and such a fascinating story.

  5. A fascinating side to one of the darkest chapters of that war.

  6. Nice story. First time I have heard it. Thanks odor sharing.


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