Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for DEAD LINE (not to be confused with Deadline)

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

(Kathy’s A to Z blog posts are tidbits of fact gleaned from her research for her historical fiction novel LIKE A RIVER.)

To prevent prisoners from attempting to escape from Andersonville Prison, a “dead line” was erected. Stakes were driven parallel to the stockade wall and about fifteen feet inside it. Eventually, these stakes were connected with scantling run across the tops of them. This formed a flimsy fence, which couldn’t physically hold a man in. But the men were informed that crossing the dead line would mean being shot.

This discouraged prisoners from getting close enough to rush the walls or tunnel under it. (Although many tunnels were dug in the Georgia clay anyway, escapes were few.)

Guards in “pigeon roosts” atop the wall were prepared to enforce the dead line. And a number of documented cases tell of prisoners whose lives ended because they crossed or ventured too close to the line. Others, who could no longer bear the hardships of the prison, crossed it to end their suffering.

16 comments:

  1. Great stuff, Kathy. I need to write more research blog posts. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. It's always nice to hear my words can be helpful. So many writers have inspired and influenced me that it's a thrill to be a part of that give and take. I can't wait to read your research posts, Ann!

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  2. I guess if you didn't like someone, you could push over that line as well.

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    1. True, Alex. A group of bullies actually chased a man over the line, but the guards saw what happened and let him live. But he begged them to shoot him, and eventually they did.

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  3. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Rita, for reading it and leaving your comment.

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  4. you and Kim are talking about some cool subjects close to my heart in Georgia - my book, pop travel, takes place in future Georgia but has old plantations and secret tunnels, too! awesome!!

    glad i stopped by! i'll be back!

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    1. Thanks, Tara. Your book sounds terrific. I have visited lots of plantations, and I love stories about secret tunnels.

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  5. Here for the A-Z challenge. Enjoying it so far, how about you? Never really wrote a research blog. Need to think about that. Nice work. @writeonsisters.com

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    1. Thanks, Caryn. I haven't visited as many of the other blogs as I'd like, but will soon when my work load eases up.

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  6. Interesting notion, those who crossed to get shot.

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    1. It was a tough existence, and men who witnessed slow, agonizing deaths might have wanted it to end more quickly.

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  7. Nice post - informative. Good luck with the A to Z Challenge.

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  8. Always been interested in the prisoners at Andersonville. I'm posting A to Z about my book which involves a secret tunnel. It releases on 4/18. http://thenewremembrance.blogspot.com

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    1. I'll check out your post. Thanks for your comment.

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