The prison at Thomasville was located half a mile northwest of town, on a five-acre tract surrounded by a ditch six feet deep and ten feet wide. Planned as a temporary holding area, the site was occupied for only two weeks in December 1864. During that time approximately 5,000 Union prisoners were confined there. The men were allowed to construct their own shelters from existing timber within the site. Exposure to the elements and close quarters caused an outbreak of smallpox, which claimed the lives of hundreds of prisoners. Confederate authorities soon ordered the site to be abandoned, and the decision was made to send all of Thomasville's prisoners back to Andersonville.