A Southern View of History: The War for Southern Independence
PART X. PRISONERS OF WAR
In part ten we briefly examine the issue of the Prisoner of War camps. Much has been written about the horror of Camp Sumter, or Andersonville. Confederates were cursed for evil acts to fellow human beings. Again facts that caused the conditions at Andersonville will be revealed. We will see that Union politics left their own troops to suffer lack of medicine, food, clothing, and to die unnecessarily. We will also examine the Northern prison camps and attempt to understand how a wealth, resource rich country such as the USA could have had such a high death rate in their prison camps. Perhaps Northern historians have pointed the finger at the South and Andersonville in order to shield us from looking at their atrocious prison record.
Objective: To develop an awareness of the politics surrounding the taking of prisoners, the operation of prison camps, resources of both Union and Confederate governments to care for prisoners, and the policy of parole and exchange.
A. Prison Camps
The study of prison camps from the War For Southern Independence presents us with a multitude of examples of extreme hardships that many Prisoners of War suffered through. Studying prison camps through U.S. history tends to place almost complete emphasis on one Confederate prison, Camp Sumter, otherwise known as “Andersonville,” Georgia. The prison at Andersonville was built to house 10,000 prisoners. When USA General William T. Sherman began his march into Georgia the prison camp numbers soon swelled. At one point some 29,000 prisoners were sent there over a four month period. There were some 6,000 sick in the hospitals at one time and there was no medicine, for the United States had declared medicine was a “contraband of war”, the first time in history that this had been done. By being contraband, it could not be imported from foreign countries due to the Northern blockade, nor could it be shipped from the North to the South to care for the Northern prisoners. Lincoln’s policy, enforced by his army and navy, was to starve the South by blockade, halting the importing of materials including food and medicine and to destroy all grain, stock, farming utensils, etc. This had impact not only on the South’s ability to feed, cloth and take care of medical needs of it’s own men in arms, but also of its civilian population, innocent women and children, and of course prisoners in their charge. The North wanted to bleed the South of all resources, including man power. They were satisfied allowing their captured troops to be held in camps. Camps that had to be in remote areas, away from the invading Northern troops. Camps that would require men be pulled from the fight against the invasion to guard the prisoners. The Union soldiers, held in Southern prisons were mere pawns in Lincoln’s campaign against the South. This is one of the first points made regarding Northern policies that contributed to the suffering and death of her own soldiers.
The extremely high death rate amongst the prisoners at Andersonville can be attributed to many causes. The single most cause of death was disease. The food supply was short there and many prisoners became weak and suffered malnutrition. But the food ration to the prisoners held there was exactly the same as was given to the Confederate soldier, including the guards at Andersonville. The South did not have the resources at that time to care for their troops, nor the prisoners held, yet the North refused to allow food to be sent to their own men. Again, it is seldom pointed out that there was a food shortage in the South, particularly when Sherman was pillaging Georgia. As a matter of fact, the death rate amongst the Confederate guards at Andersonville was higher than that of the prisoners.
The cemetery at Andersonville contains 12,912 marked graves. This was not done and is highly unusual at U.S. prisons containing Confederate POW graves. The most common scenario was that used at Camp Douglas, located just south of Chicago, Illinois. On the grounds where it once stood there is a Confederate “mound” containing the bodies of the 4,450 or more Confederate POW’s who died there. Rather than take care and have respect for a soldiers body, they frequently piled the dead Confederate prisoners up and buried them in mass graves. In February 1863, 387 of the then reported 3884 prisoners died or 10 percent in one month. Its abandonment as a prison cap was urged by H.W. Bellows, President of Sanitary Commission.
The highest death rate at any prison during the War was at Elmira, New York. Elmira was created in May of 1864 by enclosing a 30 acre site containing 35 barracks (two-story, low-ceilinged, with unsealed roofs and floors) which held only half of the 10,000 enlisted Confederate prisoners, with the rest living in tents or sleeping in the open, even in the worst winter weather.
Clothing and supplies sent from the South were warehoused by the Commandant and not distributed for up to six months. Food donated by local churches was sold to the prisoners by corrupt Union officers. Many more prisoners were transferred into Elmira from the Point Lookout, Maryland, prison. Broiled rat was regarded as a delicacy and any dog that wandered within reach was quickly slaughtered and consumed even though it was a punishable offense.
A one acre lagoon pond produced from stagnant river water within the compound served as a latrine and dump, and led to large disease epidemics. More than 10% of the prisoners had no blanket, food was scarce and usually spoiled. Scurvy was common. The Commandant refused to “waste” medicines on prisoners and also barred Sanitary Commission inspectors from entering the stockade.
One doctor boasted “I have killed more Rebs than any soldier at the front.” There were few escape attempts because few prisoners were healthy enough to try. Discipline was strict and brutal, even by contemporary military standards. Hanging by the thumbs was a popular punishment for infractions of the Union prison camp rules.
An Erie Railroad train jammed with Confederate prisoners collided with a freight train on July 15, 1864. More than 100 injured prisoners were dumped into the compound untreated and most died within a few days.
Elmira is noted for the observation towers that were built outside the compound walls. Private citizens could pay ten cents and climb the tower to view the Confederate soldiers within the compound. Lemonade and cookies were sold there as refreshments for the viewers. A second tower went up on the other side of the compound, competing for “business” with the existing tower. The second tower dropped the fee to five cents. Evidently this was quite an amusement for the ladies of the North, to see the starving, suffering Confederate prisoners as most of the customers were well dressed women. I
Elmira’s extremely conservative estimated overall death rate of 24% was the highest of any prison camp during the War. The Confederacy held some 50,000 more Union prisoners than did the Union held of Confederate prisoners, yet more total Confederate prisoners died in U.S. prisons than did U.S. prisoners in Confederate prisons.
Approximately 9% of all U.S. soldiers held prisoner in Confederate prisons died, while some 12% of all Confederate soldiers held prisoner in U.S. prisons died. The Union did not have the problems of lack of supplies such as medicine, food, clothing and articles such as blankets as did the South. The North had a bounty of goods, supplies and medicine. For the “good North” who is seen as the moral beacons of the American continent, they could not send that food South to their own men held prisoner, and did not see fit to share that bounty in humanitarian efforts with its Confederate prisoners.
|Number of Yankees in CSA prisons||270,000|
|Number of Confederates in USA prisons||220,000|
|Excess number of Union prisoners||50,000|
|Yankee deaths in Confederate prisons||22,570|
|Confederate deaths in Union prisons||26,436|
|Excess of Confederate deaths in Union prisons||3,866|
*from UCV sources in 1900
When the food rations amongst the Confederate soldiers would become smaller due to the lack of available food, the food rations would have to be cut for the Confederate soldier and for the U.S. soldiers who were held in Confederate prison camps. This ration for the Union prisoner was not smaller than that ration of the Confederate soldier.
Southern officials offered many times on humanitarian grounds to release the sick prisoners to Northern officials without the consideration of the return of Confederate soldiers. Pleas for medicine and doctors to administer to the prisoners were made by the Confederate government. These offers were all refused or simply ignored. The Confederate government, even though it was strapped for resources, offered to buy medicine for the prisoners with gold, cotton or tobacco and that Union Surgeons could bring the medicines down to the prison camps and administer them to their sick troops. The offers were ignored.
On several occasions Yankee prisoners were released from Andersonville to travel to Washington D.C. to plead for relief and the resumption of exchanges. Their heartrending petition was published in the New York and Washington papers. Their pleas fell on deaf government ears as there was no relief offered. Lincoln was unwilling to interfere with Grant’s inhuman determination. The prisoners were allowed to speak freely about Andersonville and the conditions there. No where in there report can it be found that any murders had been committed by Southern troops, nor did they speak evil of the Southern leaders. In fact they spoke of Major Wirz as a kind man, and of General Winder, Wirz’s commander, they had nothing but praise for his kindness.
On two occasions the Confederate authorities were requested to send their very worst cases of sick prisoners North. It was thought that possibly humanitarian efforts were forth coming. Instead the sick prisoners were taken to Annapolis, and then photographed as ““specimen prisoners”. This was another propaganda measure to trick the Northern population in to believing the South was willfully starving and mistreating the Northern soldiers.
The North had plenty of food, clothing, medicine, housing, and had every opportunity to purchase and import and supplies needed if they could not produce it themselves. The fact is that the mortality rate was higher in Union prisons than in Confederate prisons. Consider the inequality in resources. Why is Andersonville the shame? The truth is the South did the best they could with what they had. The North did the worst. They allowed suffering of their own men held in prison by their policies and practices. They tortured Southern soldiers with neglect, starvation and disease in the face of abundant resources that were available. Where were the real war crimes committed? Was it Wirz or Lincoln and Grant that were guilty of war crimes?
References and Details:
“The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates”, by Edward A. Pollard, Chapter 38.
“The Story of the Confederacy” by Robert S. Henry, Chapter 28.
“The Truths of History” by Mildred L. Rutherford, Chapter 7& 28.
“The South was Right” By James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy, Chapter 1 & 4.
“The Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 3, Section 5, Chapter 1.
“Facts The Historians Leave Out” by John S. Tilley.
“Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South 1861-1865” by George Edmonds.
“Prison Life During the War”, by Fritz Fuzzlebug.
“Wrongs of History Righted” by Mildred L. Rutherford.
“The True Story of Andersonville Prison” by James Madison Page
“A Confederate Catechism, The War for Southern Self-Government”, by Lyon Gardiner Tyler
“The Treatment Of Prisoners During The War Between The States, Compiled by Rev. Wm. Jones, Secretary of Southern Historical Society” Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. I. Richmond, Virginia., March, 1876 No.3 . REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS APPOINTED TO INVESTIGATE THE CONDITION AND TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR. (Presented March 3d, 1865.)
“The Treatment Of Prisoners During The War Between The States, Compiled by the Secretary of the Southern Historical Society.”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. I Richmond, Virginia, April, 1876. No. 4 THE TREATMENT OF CONFEDERATE PRISONERS BY THE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES. Inside of Rock Island Prison from Dec 1863 to June 1865 By J.W. Minnich.
“The Treatment of P.O.W. 1861-1865”, by Samuel E. Lewis M.D.
“300 Days in a Yankee Prison: Imprisonment at Camp Chase Ohio”, by John H. King, M.D.
“Prisoners of the Civil War”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889. PROFESSOR DABNEY VS. “THE NATION”–TESTIMONY OF A GERMAN
“Andersonville Prison, A Northern Witness for Captain Wirz”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va, January-December. 1908. From N. O, La., Picayune, July 26, 1908
“Two Important Letters By Jefferson Davis Discovered”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va., January-December. 1908 From N. O., La., Picayune, August 16, 1908
“Andersonville Prison”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889. . TESTIMONY OF DR. ISAIAH H. WHITE, LATE SURGEON CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY, AS TO THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS THERE.
“The True Story of Andersonville Prison” by James Madison Page.
B. Grant Stops Prisoner Exchange Program
Prisoner exchanges were a way for captors to avoid the responsibility and burden of guarding, housing, feeding, clothing, and providing medical care for prisoners of war. It allowed for sick and wounded prisoners to be released to their own forces for treatment and care. Exchange of prisoners began with informal agreements between the individual commanders of the armies after particular battles, but the practice was formalized by a cartel between the USA and CSA in July 1862. The cartel was suspended by the US Government in May 1863. Still in the name of decency and humanity, individual commanders again arranged exchanges and paroles until 1864. The US Government was outraged at this humanitarian action and called a halt to all exchanges in early1864, threatening commanders who continued the practice.
Commissioners of exchange were appointed by each government, and they exchanged and compared lists and computed how many on each side were to be exchanged. There were official points where prisoners were to be taken for exchange such as City Point, Virginia in the East and Vicksburg, Mississippi in the West. Equal ranks were exchanged equally, and higher ranks could be exchanged for some number of lower ranks according to an agreed upon list of equivalents (e.g. 1 colonel equaled 15 privates). If one side still had prisoners left, after the other side had exhausted its supply of prisoners by exchange, those excess prisoners would be released on parole. Paroled prisoners were returned to their side, but were prohibited by an oath of honor from taking up arms or performing any duty that soldiers normally performed until they were properly exchanged. Generally each side maintained parole camps where their paroled soldiers were kept while they awaited exchange, but in other cases the parolee was allowed to return home until exchanged.
One contribution to the high death rate in prison camps was Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s stopped the prisoner exchange program. The Confederate government asked the U.S. government to accept an exchange offer but Grant would not agree. The Confederate government even told the U.S. government of the condition of the prisoners at places like Andersonville, Georgia, but Grant still would not agree to exchange prisoners. Grant knew that exchanging prisoners would mean that the U.S. prisoners would return home as, more than likely, their enlistment would have already ran out whereas Confederate prisoners exchanged would return to the battlefield. Grant also felt the more prisoners held in Confederate prisons, the more resources including guards, food, medicine, shelter would be required. No, Grant felt the Union prisoners could just suffer along. He would show no concern or mercy for his own suffering troops, if it meant easing the hardship also posed to the Confederacy.
Exchanging of prisoners up to 1863 was a common and humane policy practice by all civilized countries with a history going back to the middle ages. Lincoln wanted to fight a war of attrition with the South. Draining her of fighting men, food, supplies, materials, medicine and the ability to fight on. Lincoln threw every obstacle he could in the way of exchanges. He appointed “The Beast”, Benjamin Butler as Commissioner of Exchanges, a man who so outraged Southerners, that he had been outlawed for base conduct. Later he appointed Grant in this position who was opposed to all exchanges on the ground apparently of the superior patriotism of the Southern soldiers, who he felt if exchanged would hurry back to their regiments to take up arms against the North once again. The North with overwhelming numbers could easily replace capture men, but South called up every available man and each soldier lost rendered them that much weaker. The North then abandoned their captured comrades to fend with what fate had in store.
Charles A. Dana, U.S. Assistant Secretary of War, said after the war, “We think after the testimony given that the Confederate authorities and especially Mr. Davis (President Jefferson Davis) ought not to be held responsible for the terrible privations, suffering, and injuries which our men had to endure while kept in Confederate Military Prisons; the fact is unquestionable that while Confederates desired to exchange prisoners, to send our men home, and to get back their own men, General Grant steadily and strenuously resisted such an exchange.”
Charles A. Dana again said in the New York Sun newspaper, “It was not Jefferson Davis or any subordinate or associate of his who should now be condemned for the horrors of Andersonville. We were responsible ourselves for the continued detention of our captives in misery, starvation and sickness in the South.”
General Grant and General Benjamin F. Butler held a conference at Fortress Monroe, April, 1864 on the matter of prisoner exchange. At this conference it was finally decided that they would agree to accept such Union captives as the Confederate might see fit to surrender, but that no Confederate prisoners would be delivered in return. General Grant once said, “Not to take any steps by which an able-bodied man should be exchanged until orders were received from him.”
General Grant again said, “If we hold these men caught they are no more than dead men. If we liberate them we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated.” General Grant wrote to General Butler on August 18, 1864, “It is hard on our men in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles.”
General Butler put on record the reason why General Grant and himself refused the offer to exchange: “Many a tribute has been paid to the soldier of the South by those for whom he fought, by those of the same blood and faith, by those who gloried in his splendid courage and pitied his terrible sufferings, but the highest compliment that ever was paid to the tattered and half-starved wearer of the gray was that of the Commander-in-chief of the Union armies who, in a council of war, took the ground that the Confederate prisoner was too dangerous to be exchanged.”
References and Details:
“The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates”, by Edward A. Pollard, Chapter 38
“The Story of the Confederacy” by Robert S. Henry, Chapter 28
“The Truths of History” by Mildred L. Rutherford, Chapter 7 & 28
“The South was Right” By James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy, Chapter 1 & 4
“The Story of the Confederate States” by Joseph T. Derry, Part 3, Section 5, Chapter 1
“Facts The Historians Leave Out” by John S. Tilley
“Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South 1861-1865” by George Edmonds
“Prison Life During the War”, by Fritz Fuzzlebug
“Wrongs of History Righted” by Mildred L. Rutherford
“A Confederate Catechism, The War for Southern Self-Government”, by Lyon Gardiner Tyler
“Prisons and Hospitals”, by Miller, Photographic History of the Civil War, Vol 8
“Grant As A Soldier And Civilian”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. V. Richmond, Virginia, May, 1878 No. 5
“The Inhumanities Of War”, Confederate Military History, Vol. 1 The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XX
“The Politics Of 1864 As A Factor In The War”, Confederate Military History, Vol. 1. The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XXI
“Officers Of Civil And Military Organizations”, Confederate Military History, Vol. 1
Confederate Military History, Vol. 5 CHAPTER XVII.
“Editorial Paragraphs”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. I. Richmond, Virginia., February, 1876. No. 2
“The Treatment Of Prisoners During The War Between The States, The Exchange Question”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. I Richmond, Virginia, April, 1876. No. 4
“Editorial Paragraphs”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. II. Richmond, Virginia, October, 1876. No. 4
“Letters On The Treatment And Exchange Of Prisoners”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. III. Richmond, Virginia, February, 1877. No. 2 “The Nation On Our Discussion Of The Prison Question”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. III. Richmond, Virginia, April, 1877. No. 4. Two “Witnesses On The Treatment Of Prisoners”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. VI, Richmond, Va., October, 1878, No. 4
“The Historical Register On Our Papers”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. VI Richmond, Virginia, November, 1878. No. 5.
“The Prison Question Again, Professor Rufus B. Richardson on Andersonville”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. VIII. Richmond, Oct., Nov. and Dec., 1880. Nos. 10, 11 & 12.
“The True Story Of Andersonville Told By A Federal Prisoner”, Southern Historical Society Papers Vol X. Richmond, Va., Jan. and Feb., 1882. Nos. 1 & 2.
“A Grand Meeting In New Orleans On The 25th Of April” Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. X. Richmond, Va., May, 1882. No. 5
“Recollection of Libby Prison” Southern Historical Society Papers Volume XI. Richmond, Va., February-March, 1883. Nos. 2-3.
“Incidents of Prison Life at Camp Douglas, Experience of Corporal J.G. Blanchard”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Volume XII. Richmond, Va., June, 1884. No. 6.
“Andersonville Prison, Saddest Episode”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889
“Jefferson Davis”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891
“Prisoners North And South”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891
“The Laying Of The Corner-Stone Of The Monument To President Jefferson Davis”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXIV. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1896.
“The Peace Conference”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXVII. Richmond, Va, January-December. 1899
“Records, Recollections And Reminiscences”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1902
“Treatment And Exchange Of Prisoners”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1902
“John Yates Beall, Gallant Soldier”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXIII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1905
“Andersonville Prison”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va., January-December. 1908
“The Monument To Captain Henry Wirz”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va., January-December. 1908
“Two Important Letters By Jefferson Davis Discovered”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va., January-December 1908
“Memorial Sermon”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVII. Richmond, Va., January to December. 1909
“Book Reviews”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., April, 1914. New Series, Vol. 1, Old Series, Vol. XXXIX
“Losses In The Union War”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., Sept., 1915. New Series, Vol. 2, Old Series, Vol. XL
Southern Historical Society Papers 1953. New Series, Vol. 12, Old Series, Vol. L. 1st Confederate Congress–(Fourth Session)–Monday, January 18, 1864.
“Prisoners of War” Southern Historical Society Papers 1953. New Series, Vol. 12, Old Series, Vol. L. 1st Confederate Congress–(Fourth Session) –Thursday, January 21, 1864.
Southern Historical Society Papers 1958. New Series, Vol. 13, Old Series, Vol. LI. 2d Confederate Congress–(2d Session)–Monday, November 7, 1864
Southern Historical Society Papers 1959. New Series, Vol. 14, Old Series, Vol. LII. 2d Confederate Congress–(2d Session)–Friday, December 16, 1864
” The Conduct of the War, Exchange of Prisoners”, Southern Historical Society Papers 1959. New Series, Vol. 14, Old Series, Vol. LII. 2d Confederate Congress–(2d Session)–Thursday, February 2, 1865
“Enquiry into the Treatment of Our Prisoners”, Southern Historical Society Papers 1959. New Series, Vol. 14, Old Series, Vol. LII. 2d Confederate Congress–(2d Session)–Friday, February 3, 1865
“Prisoners of the Civil War” Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889. PROFESSOR DABNEY VS. “THE NATION”–TESTIMONY OF A GERMAN
“Andersonville Prison, A Northern Witness for Captain Wirz”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVI Richmond, Va., January-December. 1908 From N. O, La., Picayune, July 26, 1908
“Andersonville Prison, Testimony of Dr. White, as to the Treatment of Prisoners There”, Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889 [Richmond Times, August 7, 1890,]
C. The United States’ Use of Human Shields
In the summer of 1864 the city of Charleston, South Carolina was under a U.S. blockade. The guns of the Yankee-held forts and navy were shelling the city. The Confederate army was returning fire from ashore. The U.S. government then took 600 Confederate POW’s and sent them to Charleston. These POW’s, often referred to as “The Immortal 600,” were to be placed in a stockade less than two acres square, directly beneath the guns of a United States fort which was located on Johnson’s Island. According to Captain Walter MacRae of the Seventh North Carolina, who was one of the POW’s, they were situated so that every shot from the Confederate guns “must either pass over our heads or right through the pen. Any which fell short or exploded a tenth of a second too soon, must strike death and destruction through our crowded ranks.” The POW’s were placed under the guard of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts and their cruel commander, Col. E. N. Howell. Col. Howell gave an order to the black troops of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts to shoot into any gathering of POW’s larger than ten men or at any POW who broke any other rule of the prison. Any POW who walked too close to a roped off perimeter that was inside the stockade was also ordered to be shot.
The POW’s food ration consisted of provisions that had been condemned by the U.S. federal government as unfit for U.S. troops. These “rations” consisted of worm-and insect-infested hardtack, a one-inch square, one-half inch thick piece of pork, and eight ounces of sour corn meal. They had to eat, sleep, and care for their wounded in the same place where garbage and sewage were dumped. Their only supply of water was from holes they dug in the sand. The water holes quickly filled with a mixture of rain water, salt water, garbage and sewage.
The attempt by the United States army to use Southern POW’s as human shields to protect their positions did not work though. Captain MacRae noted that the Southern gunners did slow down and take more time to aim. With each well-placed shot from the Confederate artillery, a great shout of joy would go up from the POW’s. When the Confederate guns fired, someone in the stockade would shout and everyone would hit the dirt and watch as the friendly fire would hit its mark.
After a few months of this bombardment, the POW’s were removed to another prison where they were treated no better, but at least they were in no danger of being killed by their own men. In contrast, United States Major General C. V. Foster stated: “Our officers, prisoners of war in Charleston, have been ascertained to be as follows [rations]: Fresh meat three quarters of a pound or one half pound hard bread or one half pint of meal; beans, one fifth pint.” “Many of the people of Charleston exerted themselves in every way to relieve the necessities of our men, and freely, as far as their means would allow, made contributions of food and clothing.”
He also stated that the kind treatment of the U.S. POW’s by their Southern captors had induced over half (sixty-five percent) of the men to go over to the Southern cause and sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. Only one percent of the six hundred POW’s held by General Foster went over to the U.S. side.
U.S. Gen. W.T. Sherman assured his wife in the summer of 1862 that if the North could hold on, the war would soon take a turn toward the extermination not only of the rebel armies but of civilians! He quickly put his ideas in practice. Exasperated by the way in which Confederates fired on supply steamboats from the banks of the Mississippi, he ordered an Ohio colonel, September 24, 1862, to destroy every house in the town of Randolph, scene of such an attack, and this without inquiry into the guilt of the inhabitants. Three days later he ordered that for every instance of firing onto a boat, ten families should be expelled from Memphis, and began placing Confederate prisoners on boats exposed to attack!
References and Details:
“Immortal Captives” by Mauriel Joslyn
“The South Was Right” by James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy, Chapter 4.
“The Truths of History” by Mildred L. Rutherford, Chapter 10.
“The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates”,, by Edward A. Pollard, Chapter 40. A
Official Records (War of the Rebellion)– SERIES I–VOLUME XVII/2 [S# 25] CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN WEST TENNESSEE AND NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI FROM JUNE 10, 1862, TO JANUARY 20, 1863. UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.–#10,
Official Records (War of the Rebellion)– SERIES I–VOLUME XVII/1 [S# 24] SEPTEMBER 25, 1862.–Burning of Randolph, Tenn. Report of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, U.S. Army.
Official Records (War of the Rebellion)– SERIES I–VOLUME XVII/2 [S# 25] CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN WEST TENNESSEE AND NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI FROM JUNE 10, 1862, TO JANUARY 20, 1863. UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.–#11
Part 10 Questions:
In short essay format give and support an opinion for at least six of these questions:
1. Why did the the Union prisoners held by Confederates have to have food rations cut in 1864-65?
2. Why was it nearly impossible for Confederates to get medicine to treat Union prisoners?
3. Why was it said that the Confederate soldier and the Union prisoner had some of the same problems surviving the war 1864-65?
4. How did Union policies contribute to the suffering of Union prisoners held by the Confederacy?
5. What were Lincoln and Grants concern about continuing the exchange system after 1863?
6. Why is Andersonville seen so prominently in history text, when overall Confederate prisoner conditions and casualties were worse?
7. What reasons did the Union government list for lack of food, shelter, clothing or medicine provided for their Confederate held prisoners?
8. In general, how did the Northern guards, prison camp administrators, government officials and even some doctors regard the Confederate prisoner and what examples could you point out that brings you to this conclusion?
9. What does the term the Immortal 600 refer to?
10. How is the use of human shields considered a breach of military justice and a violation of humane prisoner treatment?
11. What regard for prisoners would a commanding General, such as Sherman hold, if they ordered prisoners to be used as human shields?
12. President Jefferson Davis offered many times to send sick and injured Union prisoners home if the Union would not send food, medicine or doctors South. Why did the USA government refuse to accept these offers?