Commentary by Frank Gillispie

The tide is finally starting to turn. The distorted, politically correct version of American history is gradually giving way to the evidence in the historical record. And as serious historians start to explore those records, startling facts are emerging.

This past Sunday night

[Jan.15], the History Channel broadcast a two hour feature entitled “Eighty Acres of Hell.” A story of the atrocities committed against Confederate Prisoners of War at Camp Douglas in Chicago. There were 12,000 Confederate prisoners sent there. Only 6,000 were released at the end of the war.

Unlike the Confederate Camp in Andersonville, the starvation at Camp Douglas was deliberate. Food and medical care was abundantly available in Chicago. Yet the Confederate prisoners were put on a starvation diet. At one point, they were denied any fruits or vegetables resulting in severe scurvy. Many died, many others suffered agonizing illness.

Confederate prisoners were routinely tortured. They were hung by their thumbs so that only the balls of their feet reached the ground. Others were forced to ride the sharp edges of a wooden plank with heavy weights tied to their feet. The producers used letters from former prisoners and guards to accurately depict the torture.

These scenes of horror are clearly and graphically depicted in the film. The cemetery containing the bodies of over 4000 Confederates still exist in Chicago. What happened to the other nearly 2000 men is not clearly known but speculation was that the grave diggers who were being paid to bury the bodies may have simply tossed them into a bog where they eventually washed out in to Lake Michigan.

Another scene shatters another commonly held belief about the War for Southern Independence. Just suggest that there were black soldiers in the Confederate Army and the politically correct crowd roars their disagreement.

It is impossible that any blacks fought for the Confederacy, they say. Well, the film depicts the arrival at Camp Douglas of a troop of Confederate Calvary. Among them was a black man dressed in full confederate uniform. As soon as the guards on the wall spotted him, he was shot and killed for no reason (other than being black).

The deprivation and starvation at Andersonville happened because the Confederacy had no resources left. Even the guards at Andersonville were starving.

At Camp Douglas and other Northern camps, the prisoners were starved, exposed to harsh weather and denied proper medical care as a result of deliberate policy that went all the way to the Whitehouse. The commander of Andersonville was hanged. The commander of Camp Douglass was promoted to Brigadier General.

You know, pushing the pendulum of truth out of balance as the politically correct South-bashers do, is a very dangerous thing. You eventually reach a point where the pendulum is too heavy to hold and it starts to swing back.

And the pushers find themselves totally discredited. With the televising of the true story of Camp Douglas, the pendulum is starting to slip out of the grasp of the politically correct.

For those of you who missed this program, it will be rebroadcast on Saturday, January 21 at 5:00 p.m. on the History Channel. I urge all of you, except small children who should not be subjected the graphic violence and torture, to watch it.

Copyright © 2006 by Frank Gillispie

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