Confederate authorities, fearing a raid on Andersonville by Sherman's marching army, chose Andersonville as a safe, temporary prison camp. Five thousand Federal prisoners were brought here on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Line via Blackshear in the second week of December 1864. Colonel Henry Fornocommanded the 2nd and 4th Georgia Reserves and the prison camp. The camp was a five acre square bounded by a ditch six to eight feet deep, ten to twelve feet wide. Several hundred prisoners died of smallpox, typhoid fever, diarrhea, and a few from trees felled for firewood and shelter. Some sick prisoners were cared for at the Methodist Church and at Fletcher Institute. The dead were buried in the Methodist Cemetery. Local citizens helped the sick and provided prisoners with food. With Sherman settled at Savannah the emergency camp at Thomasville closed. The prisoners were marched sixty miles to Albany and entrained for Andersonville where they arrived on December 24, 1864.