Henry Wirz

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Henry Wirz (1822-1865) was a Confederate States of America officer who commanded Andersonville Prison Camp. He was the only defendant explicitly condemned for war crimes by a U.S. military tribunal, under the Lieber Code.

An immigrant from Switzerland, he was a physician who receuved M.D. degree from the medical colleges of Paris and Berlin. After practicing medicine for a time, he immigrated to the United States in 1849, establishing a medical practice in Kentucky, and later in Louisiana.

Volunteering for the American Civil War, he was badly wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines. He was then assigned to noncombat duty, first as a courier, and then became acting adjutant-general to General John H. Winder, Provost Marshall in charge of Confederate prisoner of war camps. He later took command of the largest of them, Andersonville Prison Camp.[1]

He was tried after the U.S. had promulgated the first formal set of laws of war, the Lieber Code of 1863.[2]


  1. Henry Wirz, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  2. Stuart E Hendin, Up to 1900, Note 11, Command Responsibility and Superior Orders in the Twentieth Century - A Century of Evolution, Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law