War of the Rebellion: Serial 116 Introduction

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Intro
Prisoner's of War Intro



Vol. 3 Introduction - Serial 116

Prisoners of War

These volumes contain many reports and letters from junior military figures, department commanders, Commissioners for prisoner exchanges, naval officers, and politicians in Washington and Richmond.
The subject, in one way or another, is always the question of what to do with the leftovers of war: prisoners, or civilians who disagree with the government. As examples of the nastiness of warfare in a Border State with divided loyalties, we have material on Missouri in the early war. Two contrasts are offered of different political situations: Maryland under Union occupation, and East Tennessee under Confederate occupation.
The whole question of civilian disloyalty to government in wartime is covered in Volume 2, from big cities to small towns.
The bulk of the material is about the details of prisoner exchanges, from the plaintive reports of field officers about where to send their prisoners, to political decisions about how to treat them. Key decisions were made early in the war: captured soldiers would be treated as belligerents, not hanged as rebels. Late in the war the Union stopped exchanges to run the CSA out of soldiers, and the results included such prison camps as Andersonville.

This volume covers all aspects of prisoner-of-war correspondence from February 19, 1861 to June 12, 1862. Much of the material is from naval vessels, and is very interesting because of the early US attempts to treat Confederate sailors as pirates. Testimony from their trials is included. The bulk of the material is more mundane material on exchanges of batches of prisoners.



Intro
Prisoner's of War Intro