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War Prison Barracks
The War Prison Barracks were established by the United States War Department. Two US Army forts in Georgia were chosen as detention facilities. Six companies of the Seventeenth US Infantry were transferred to each fort to act as guards.
Two months later War Department General Order 54 formally directed the establishment of three War Prison Barracks each to house 1,800 prisoners. Two classes of prisoners were detained at these camps. One was composed of German and Austrian sailors taken into custody when the United States interned various vessels. The other class constituted enemy aliens, civilians arrested and detained under governmental regulations as a threat to national security.
War Prison Barracks #1
Interned prisoner barracks at Fort McPherson. The picture was obtained from NARA.
War Prison Barracks #1 was located at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Fort McPherson was four miles from Atlanta. The first prisoners of war were from the German ship Kronprinz Wilhelm arriving on March 21, 1917. On October 5, 1917 the naval prisoners at Fort Oglethorpe were shipped to the fort. On March 21, 1918 the naval prisoners at Fort Douglas were transferred by train to Fort McPherson. The crew of the German submarine U-58 arrived on April 18, 1918. The War Prison Barracks were closed on June 30, 1920.
The war ended on Monday November 11, 1918. Ten months later on September 23, 1919 the German Naval prisoners at Fort McPherson began their trip home. They traveled by train to Hoboken, New Jersey, arriving on September 25. The next day they boarded United States naval transport ship Pocahontas, and sailed for Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Pocahontas arrived at Rotterdam on October 7, 1919, carrying 1,700 German and Austrian interned prisoners from the Americas. On the following day, they boarded two German trains and traveled to Wesel, Germany.
War Prison Barracks #2
Interned prisoner barracks at Fort Oglethorpe. The picture was obtained from NARA.
War Prison Barracks #2 was located at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Fort Oglethorpe was eleven miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. On March 21, 1917 the first German Naval prisoners of war arrived at the barracks, the crew of the ship Prinz Eitel Friedrich and the prize crew from the Appam. On October 5, 1917 the naval prisoners in the camp were transported by train to Fort McPherson. Following the transfer the camp housed enemy aliens until June 30, 1920 when it was closed.
War Prison Barracks #3
War Prison Barracks #3 was located at Fort Douglas, Utah, five miles from Salt Lake City. On June 10, 1917 the first German Naval prisoners of war arrived at the barracks from the Cormoran. The crew of the German ship Geier joined them on September 14, 1917. The 403 German naval prisoners at the camp were shipped by train to Fort McPherson on March 21, 1918. Following the transfer the camp housed enemy aliens until April 20, 1920 when it was closed.
RELATED WEB SITES:
NARA US National Archives Records Administration.
MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY, by James W. Gerard.
SILENT BATTLE, by Desmond Morton, 1992.
GERMAN RAIDERS, by Paul Schmalenbach, 1979.
GHOSTS OF FORT MCPHERSON, by Mitchell Yockelson, 1997.
THE WAR DEPARTMENT: KEEPER OF OUR NATION'S ENEMY ALIENS DURING WWI, by Mitchell Yockelson, 1998.
Last Revision: March 4, 2007.
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