14. A providential storm swept the camp in August, 1864
Throughout the early summer of 1864 the weather around Andersonville remained hot and dry. The Stockade Branch slowed to a trickle, and the water holes, dug as cisterns to collect rain water, dried up. By the first week of August the lack of water became critical, both within Camp Sumter and in the surrounding area. On August 9, in the early evening, a storm arose which released its fury throughout the night. Heavy rains raised the creeks outside the stockade, and finally entered the stockade in a torrent. The rushing water knocked down the stockade where it entered and again where it exited the camp. The water scoured the creek bed and the surrounding marsh. Prisoners leapt into the flood to recover wood being washed away. The Confederate guards were forced to endure the storm in battle lines to prevent prisoners from fleeing the stockade.
Uprooting some of the stockade revealed an underground spring, previously undiscovered. Before the storm had ended the water from the spring was diverted into the compound. When the storm ended, Stockade Branch and its feeders had been cleaned of the filth with which they had been polluted. The stream soon returned to its fetid condition, but the diverted spring provided a source of water other than that of the creeks. The prisoners name it Providence Spring. Following the storm, the stockade walls were repaired. Winder ordered a second stockade, some distance away and surrounding the first, erected later that month. He also received orders to begin reducing the population of Camp Sumter by transferring prisoners to other camps. Sherman’s approaching army and the possibility of cavalry raids inspired the Confederates to move their prisoners.