Father Peter Whelan, an Irish-born Catholic priest from Savannah, arrived at Andersonville on June 16, 1864, to minister to the sick and dying. While other priests visited for brief periods, Whelan remained for nearly four months during the hottest season and the time of highest mortality.
At the end of his stay, Whelan borrowed money to purchase ten thousand pounds of wheat flour. Baked into bread and distributed at the prison hospital, this food became known as "Whelan's bread." It lasted several months and probably saved many lives.
"By coming here he exposed himself to great danger of infection... His services were sought by all, for, in his kind and sympathizing looks, his meek but earnest appearance, the despairing prisoners read that all humanity had not forsaken mankind."
Pvt. Henry M. Davidson
1st Ohio Light Artillery
The prisoners never forgot Father Whelan. When the survivors returned home and wrote their memoirs, they often mentioned Whelan's name and works.