SR #97 can be found in the Congressional Records....old
law books at universities or court houses. It is dated January
18, 1865, 38th Congress, 2nd Session.
The practices of retaliation was suggested by
Indiana Sen. Henry Smith Lane, who proposed on Jan. 16, 1865 what
became the Lane Resolution to the 38th Congress.
He had received a request from citizens in Ft. Wayne, IN to retaliate "until
the rebels exchanged all our men in their hands or treat them with
that degree of humanity that the rules of war require." Of
course the Confederacy was trying to comply. However, Lane wanted
vengeance on the South, saying on the floor of Congress, "I
would make the war still bloodier, I would make very rocky ravine
in Southern GA and AL run red with the blood of traitors, and I
would drive into the Gulf Stream the last rebel there before I
would recognize their Independence." ...Congressional
38th Congress, 2nd session, 1/16/1865, 267-26.
Lincoln was notified by his own general, Dan Sickles, that retaliation
was useless. Sickles wrote on 8/10/1864, "Apart from the objections
which exist to the policy of retaliation, it is at least doubtful
whether it would inure to the benefit of our men, for the reason
that the enemy are reported to be without the means to supply clothing,
medicines and other medical supplies even to their own troops."...Official
Records, Ser. II, Vol. VII, 575.
Lane proposed to single out officers for mistreatment, stating
that the private soldiers had no choice but to serve the rebellion,
while the officers were actual instigators in secession who should
be severely punished for their treason. He was joined vehemently
in his enthusiasm for retaliation by Senators Benjamin Wade of
OH and Morton Wilkinson of MN. The resolution, among other things,
suggested that Confederate prisoners be at the mercy of jailors
who had formerly been held in the South as prisoners of war, so
they would tend to treat their captives as they had been treated.
The preamble to the resolution stated:
Rebel prisoners in our hands are to be subjected
to a treatment finding its parallels only in the conduct of savage
resulting in the death of multitudes by the slow but designed process
of starvation and by mortal diseases occasioned by insufficient
and unhealthy food and wanton exposure of their persons to the
inclemency of the weather....Congressional Globe, 38th Congress,
2nd session, 1/24/1865, pg. 381
The more moderate senators preferred to reinstate the policy of
exchange, not implement government sanctioned murder. Senator Hendricks
suggested an investigation of the secretary of war, on the grounds
that it had been proven Stanton was directly involved in the curtailment
of exchange. Amendments were presented and voted on and the debate
raged through January 1865, when it passed the Senate. Within months
it was outdated by the reinstatement of the 1862 cartel. Despite
the fact that it was never widely adopted, retaliation became Union
policy, left up to the discretion of field commanders. It was implemented
with a vengeance by Major. Gen. John Foster, the commander in the
Dept. of the South, with support by Sec. of War Stanton, Generals
Henry W. Halleck and Ulysses S. Grant.
The above was taken from Immortal Captives: The Story of 600 Confederate Officers & The
US POW Policy by Mauriel P. Joslyn, pg.37, 39.
As stated, while Congress was still only debating it, retaliation
was enforced by the North, at the discretion of commandants and
field commanders. When a report was received that the only rations
available at Andersonville and Salisbury were cornmeal and molasses,
the Confederate soldiers in Northern prisons were denied available
food and put on cornmeal and pickles. When it was heard that
supplies of blankets and winter clothing could not be delivered
to the prisons in the South because of military operations by
the North, or destroyed rail lines, these same articles were
taken away from Southerners - whose own families had sent them
in many cases - purely as an act of retribution. The winter in
the North without blankets was impossible to survive and many
innocent men froze to death. Great Britain was aware of the treatment
and a ship loaded with supplies for 8,000 Southern soldiers in
Northern prisons was not allowed to be landed. Even though no
good was gained by it, the deadly policy of retaliation continued
to be enforced.
The Retaliation Resolution passed in Congress on 1/31/1865 by
a vote of 24 to 16. The chivalry and civilized treatment of prisoners
of war which originated in Christian Western Civilization during
the 1400s became non-existent in the winter of 1864-1865. It was
almost immediately made obsolete and dropped when prisoner of war
exchange was resumed in late February. Only the collapse of the
Confederacy and end of the war curtailed the Lane Resolution. Legal
murder was accepted by the victors, while the defeated South was
tried and convicted of mistreatment and scapegoat Captain Henry
Wirz paid with his life for the crime of being on the losing side.
Edward Wellington Boate was a soldier in the 42nd NY Inf. and
a prisoner at Andersonville in 1864. He wrote of his experiences
in the NY Times shortly after the war and commented on whom he
held responsible for Andersonville’s legacy.
"You rulers who make the charge that the rebels intentionally
killed off our men, when I can honestly swear they were doing everything
in their power to sustain us, do not lay this flattering unction
to your souls. You abandoned your brave men in the hour of their
cruelest need. They fought for the Union and you reached no hand
out to save the old faithful, loyal and devoted servants of the
country. You may try to shift the blame from your own shoulders,
but posterity will saddle the responsibility where it justly belongs."
The atrocities committed by the North against prisoners of war
fill the pages of the Official Records of the War of Rebellion,
but are carefully left out of the most "unbiased" accounts.
....Andersonville: The Southern Perspective edited
by J.H. Segars, pg. 144-145
For more reading on what really happened at Andersonville, you
can read a book by a POW who was there, "The True Story of
Andersonville Prison" by Lt. James Madison Page, 6th MI Cav.
Retaliation by the Union ~ You Be The Judge
Retaliation was in full swing, long before the Lane Resolution.
Senator Lane was just trying to get a legal license to murder
POWs with the US government’s stamp of approval. Below
are some examples of this before, during and after the Preamble
to SR #97.
Rock Island POW Camp: The following was written by a Union Guard,
John A. Bateson, 115th E.V.R.C. 2nd Batt’n. He was vouched
for by a district judge and prominent lawyer of Pioche, NV, as
a gentleman of "perfect truthfulness and reliability" and
he refers to a number of leading Republicans in the NW, with whom
he has always been politically associated, "for an endorsement
of his character as a staunch Republican and honorable man."
PIOCHE, February 19, 1876.
During a period of ten months I was a member of the garrison of
the Rock Island Military Prison. There were confined there about
ten thousand men. Those men were retained in a famishing
condition by order of Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. That
approved by Abraham Lincoln. It was read before the inside garrison
of the prison sometime in January, 1864. It was read at assembly
for duty on the 2d, in front of the prison. It went into effect
on the following day. It continued in force until the expiration
of my term of service, and, I have understood, until the close
of the war.
When it was read, Colonel Shaffner, of the Eighth Veteran Reserves,
was acting Provost Marshal of Prisoners. I think that it was Captain
Robinson who read the order. It reduced the daily allowance of
the captives to about ten ounces of bread and four ounces of meat
Some time in January a batch of prisoners arrived. They were captured
at Knoxville. Sixty of them were consigned to barracks under my
charge. They were received by me at about 3 in the afternoon. One
of the prisoners inquired of me when they would draw rations. I
told him not until the following day. He said that in that case
some of his comrades must die, as they had eaten nothing since
their capture several days before - the exact period I cannot state.
That evening at roll call one of the prisoners exhibited symptoms
of delirium. He moved from the ranks, and seemed to grasp for something,
which I understood to be a table loaded with delicacies. I returned
him to the ranks, where he remained until roll call was over, when
I left. On the following morning he and two others were dead.
The mortality report among the new Rebs was extraordinarily large.
I think it amounted to about ten per cent of the entire number.
It created an interest among the company commandant, and was the
subject of many expressions. From the rebel orderlies I learned
that the symptoms in each case were the same. There was no complaint;
no manifestation of illness. Some dropped while standing on the
floor; others fell from a sitting posture. All swooned and died
without a struggle.
Some of the prisoners had money sent them. It
was deposited with the Provost Marshal, and their orders on the
sutler were at first
honored, but supplies from this direction were soon prohibited;
the sutler's wagon was excluded from the prison.. Supplies from
relatives of prisoners, consisting of clothes, food and stationery
came for some. The parcels containing them were distributed from "Barrack
Thirty." The boxes were examined, everything in the shape
of subsistence was removed, and the box and its contents delivered
to the prisoner; the food it contained was destroyed before the
face of the tantalized captive.
Small tufts of a weed, called parsley, grew under the sides of
the prison. It was over the dead-line, where prisoners dare not
go. At their earnest entreaty I have sometimes plucked and handed
it to some of them. They told me it was a feast. Squads of prisoners
under guard were sent to work in different parts of the Island.
They sometimes purchased raw potatoes and onions for their comrades
suffering with scurvy. They were searched at the prison gate, and
those articles taken from them.
I am ready to swear that in my opinion the Knoxville prisoners
were starved to death.
As to the torture endured by the scurvy patients, the shooting
of prisoners by the guards on the parapets, the smashing of their
skulls with revolvers by officers of the prison, such misfortunes
are incident to prison life, and neither the Government nor the
Republican party can be held responsible for them.
The weather on January 1st was the most intensely cold I ever
experienced; and from all parts of the prison came intelligence
of prisoners frozen to death. One died in one of my companies.
He was reported to me, and I placed my hand on the corpse; it was
frozen. This is the first time I have mentioned it. I cannot say
that he froze to death.
... Southern Historical Society Papers,
Vol. I, March 1876, #4, pgs. 293-294
"At the end of the war Hoffman proudly returned over $1.8
million to the government, representing what he had saved from
his budget and accumulated in the prison funds by reducing prisoner
rations. In other prisons this accumulation of money often led
to graft and corruption among prison officials. As Union authorities
received reports of hunger and suffering among their men in Confederate
hands*, they instituted a policy of retaliation. From mid 1864-1865,
Hoffman, backed by Meigs and Edwin M. Stanton, intended to treat
Confederate prisoners of war as they believed the Confederate government
was treating Union captives. Hoffman ordered a further reduction
of rations, restricted sutlers' access to the prisoners and eliminated
the prisoners' receipt of food packages from home. The result was
an increase in disease from malnutrition, as well as starvation."...Portals
of Hell by Lonnie Speer, pg. 14-15.
This can also be found in the Official Records Viii, pg. 768
* The South had run out of food. The Union army had burned the
homes, torched the crops, shot the livestock and no medicine could
be obtained due to the blockades. However, the North was rich in
food and medical supplies, yet both were withheld from a starving
Southern Army of Prisoners.
"While in prison, I went through some of
the hardest experiences I had during the entire war. We were half
fed, had bad water, treated cruelly by negro guards and exposed
to bad weather. We had only a little fly tent and had to lay on
the hard ground. On the 12th of May I was lined up with others,
marched to headquarters, where I had to draw for my life. They
wanted 20 men to face the firing squad in retaliation for some
yankee prisoners they claimed our men killed in NC. I drew blank,
for which I have always felt thankful, but was scared almost to
death." ...John Oliver Andrews, Co. I, 14th GA Inf.
Gratiot Street Prison, St. Louis: ... the prison was often the
scene of Union retaliation executions. One of the most controversial
occurred on 10/29/1864, when six Confederate prisoners were randomly
chosen and led out to be shot by a firing squad. Portals of
Hell by Lonnie Speers, pg. 179
Camp Douglas: About the time Col. Sweet took command, a reduction
in rations took place by orders from Washington. "The prisoners’ ration," declared
one captive, "was to each man one half loaf of baker’s
bread daily, together with about four ounces of meat and a gill
of beans or potatoes...When retaliatory measures were adopted,
the stoves were taken away." Another captive added, "Our
sutler was restricted to the sale of tobacco, stamps and paper.
All vegetables were cut off, and tea, coffee and sugar became things
of the past. One third of our bread was cut off and two thirds
of our meat.
With the elimination of vegetables, scurvy soon occurred in epidemic
numbers. "Lips were eaten away, jaws became diseased and teeth
fell out," recalled Bean. "If leprosy is any worse than
scurvy, may God have mercy upon the victim." Portals of
Hell by Lonnie Speers, pg. 182
Johnson’s Island: The conditions of the sinks bred rats
by the score and provided the inmates with a hunting ground for
extra food. Prisoner Joseph Ripley of TN became well known among
the inmates as one of the best at catching rats. He would often
treat his fellow captives to mighty feasts. The prisoners at Johnson’s
Island and at about seven other Union prisons as well, resorted
to eating rats for a variety of reasons. Foremost, of course, was
the actual reduction of rations that took place in all the Union
prisons, combined with the abundance of rats in the enclosures.
But, an additional cause here, and in several other prisons, was
the post’s method of distributing rations. In the beginning,
regular rations were issued every day except Sunday. Other items,
such as sugar, coffee, beans and rice or hominy, were given out
in quantities to be consumed over a six to ten day period. Beef
was issued three or four days a week and pickled pork the other
two or three days. Bread was baked on the island in large ovens
and was distributed each day, one loaf to every four men. Then
came the reduction, followed by another. "We are now beginning
to feel to some extent the vengeance of the Government of the United
States," complained one prisoner. "They have stopped
our rations of sugar, coffee and candles...Portals of Hell by Lonnie
Speers, pg. 185
Pt. Lookout: Nearly all contemporary accounts agree that the amount
of rations issued there was never enough, especially after the
last officially mandated reduction...It was later determined that
there had been discrepancies in some of his ( Major Brady) acquisitions.
For instance.... $500.00 worth of mackerel was purchased and charged
to the prison fund as vegetables during a time when the prisoners
were suffering from scurvy and needed vegetables badly. It was
later found that the mackerel was sold to the prisoners by the
sutler, which, of course, was illegal. Some prisoners were under
the impression that the sutler was Major Brady’s brother-in-law
and that they made thousands of dollars manipulating records and
siphoning off cash from purchases of rations, clothing and medicines
intended for the prisoners....Portals of Hell by Lonnie Speers,
Charleston, SC: Within days Union officials came to believe that
Federal prisoners were being held in the various sections of Charleston
to prevent further bombardment. They soon retaliated by taking
600 Confederate officer prisoners from Ft. DE and putting them
into an open stockade on Morris Island within range of Confederate
shore batteries....Portals of Hell by Lonnie Spears, pg. 214
Dr. John A. Wyeth in his book, "With Saber and Scalpel" gives
an account of the suffering of Confederate prisoners under the
retaliatory orders. The Confederate government, having no medicines
for the sick, offered as a free gift 15,000 of the emaciated federal
soldiers in Andersonville Prison as an act of charity, to save
life, not to destroy it. Federal ships in November, 1864, came
to Ft. Pulaski and took away the 15,000 federal prisoners, bringing,
however, not a single old Reb to his home. The rations, already
limited, were cut to starving proportions.
O those hard retaliatory measures ordered by popular demand, under
misapprehension, how many fell victims to those measures! What
a fatal gift was our 15,000 emaciates! We did it to save life.
Fifteen thousand Confederates fell victims to this fatal gift.
We did it to save life; the retaliatory orders were issued to destroy
life. .....Confederate Veteran, Dec. 19l6.
"I would like", said Senator Lane, "to live long
enough to see every white man in South Carolina in hell, and the
negroes inheriting their territory. (Loud applause) It would not
any day wound my feelings to fine the dead bodies of every rebel
sympathizer pierced with bullet holes, in every street and alley
in Washington City. (Applause) Yes; I would regret the waste of
powder and lead. I would rather have these Copperheads hung and
the ropes saved for future use. (Loud Applause) I would like to
see them dangle until their stinking bodies would rot and fall
to the ground piece by piece."...(Applause with laughter)....1863,
in a Washington speech by Jim Lane, Republican Senator from Kansas.
Pvt. Howard Malcolm Blewett was a prisoner at Pt.
Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates from 1863 to 1865. After taking the Oath
of Allegiance on April 14 th 1865, he was transported to Chimbrazo
Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. There, it took him SIX months to
recover from severe malnutrition.
Pvt. Robert George Smith, Pt. Lookout
Prisoner stated: Run down
and half starved as the prisoners were, scurvy set in and a squad
of men was kept busy digging graves just outside the enclosure
every day. Acres were covered with the graves of former prisoners.
A sick soldier who was suffering from extreme thirst crept out
to a well near his tent. "Halt!" came a gruff command
from a burly negro guard. The man pled pitifully, explaining that
he was almost dying for water. "Damn you!" came the answer, "I
told you to get back!" Instantly the report of a pistol shocked
the listeners. The bullet missed its target but killed a sleeping
man in a tent close by.
As early as Decoration Day 1868, the U.S. government,
as caretaker of the nation's premier military cemetery, began turning
and UDC members who tried to bring flowers to the graves of 377
Confederates who had died in Washington hospitals and were buried
here. Major General John A. Logan, whose corps had burned Columbia,
South Carolina, in 1865 and who was now commander of the leading
Union Veterans Organization, the Grand Army of the Republic, specifically
ordered that the ladies be turned away and the Confederate graves
left bare. Angered Southern families began to remove their relatives
...Civil War Times, Arlington’s Forgotten Monument by Clint
Three Hundred Days In A Yankee Prison by
John H. King ...1904: In recounting the horrific details of his
imprisonment at Camp Chase, OH in 1863,
the author discloses the yankee policy of deliberate "starve
the Rebels into the submission of death." King also strips
away the layers of propaganda surrounding the "horrors of
Andersonville," and lays the blame for the many northern soldiers
who died there at the feet of the northern army itself, whose "scorched
earth" policy devastated the crops and other resources of
Prison Life During the War of 1861 by Fritz Fuzzlebug ...1869:
Learn of the suffering endured by the
Immortal Six Hundred captured Confederate officers as they were
starved, beaten and used as human shields.
One Confederate prisoner told of an evening meal which was composed
of a piece of sow belly and a pint of corn meal mush which had
been made from spoiled cornmeal. The prisoner counted 365 worms
and 14 bugs in the mush. He could have counted more but didn't
want to lose more of his meal.
....True Tales of the South at War by Clarence Poe, pg. 144.
At Pt. Lookout...the soup was made of vegetables and if potatoes
and onions were used, they were never peeled or sorted and sometimes
they were spoiled...Many references are made to the fact that the
bones were round, which meant that the meat was not beef but from
mules...the coffee was made from anything they could find, such
as used coffee grounds stolen from the garbage pile at the cookhouse,
to parched hardtack crackers. No attention was given to separating
the different diseases. Smallpox, scurvy and the itch was rampant.
Chronic diarrhea was the most prevalent disease...Tents were without
boards for a floor or even straw to protect them from the open
ground, which was either hot in summer or cold in winter. the winter
high tides inundated the ground, which froze and caused many to
die outright....the majority of prisoners were ragged, dirty, thinly
clad, in a miserable condition, destitute of everything and beyond
belief..many of the tents were placed over old latrines which were
lightly covered with a layer of soil...Sec. of War Stanton, in
1864, ordered rations cut, clothing and gifts received from relatives
to not be distributed and to not build barracks or supply clothing....Fresh
Fish: A Civil War Prisoner's Story by Lynn Miller, pg. 78-79, 81,
The negro guard would, almost without warning, fire among the prisoners,
and this at last culminated in the murder of a poor, feeble old
man named Potts, a prisoner, one of the most harmless creatures
in the pen. He was hailed by one of the guard while approaching
his ward, ordered to stop, and shot dead while standing still....Southern
Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December.
1890. Prison-Pens North.
The affidavit of Thomas
E. Gilkerson states: Negro soldiers were
promoted to corporals for shooting white prisoners at Point Lookout,
where he was a prisoner.
That he was transferred to Elmira, New
York, where prisoners were
starved into skeletons; were reduced to the necessity of robbing
the night stool of the meats which, being spoiled, could not be
eaten by the sick, was thrown into the bucket of excrements, taken
out and washed to satisfy their distressing hunger.
That for inquiring of Lieutenant Whitney, of Rochester, New York,
for some clothes which the deponent believed were sent to him in
a box, the deponent was confined three days in a dungeon and fed
on bread and water.
That two men in Ward 22 were starved until they ate a dog, for
which offence they were severely punished.
That negroes were placed on guard. That while on guard, a negro
called a prisoner over the dead line, which the prisoner did not
recognize as such, and the negro shot him dead, and went unpunished.
That shooting prisoners without cause or provocation, was of frequent
occurrence by the negro guards.
....Mr. Waring was removed from Carroll prison to Point
where the prisoners were detailed to load and unload vessels; were
robbed by negroes of the trinkets made in prison; some were shot
by negroes, carpet sacks were robbed of clothing, and hospital
stewards and sanitary commissions ate the provisions sent to prisoners
and soldiers, or extorted exorbitant prices from the person to
whom they had been sent.
The negroes offered every manner of indignity to the prisoners.
Among other crimes they shot a dying man on his attempt to relieve
nature. The conduct of the negroes at Point Lookout was incited
by their white officers until it was frightful.
.....Garland A. Snead, of Augusta, Georgia, said he was taken
prisoner at Fisher's Hill, Virginia, September, 1864; sent to Point
Lookout, which was in the care of one Brady, who had been an officer
of negro cavalry.
He was starved for five days, had chronic diarrhea; was forced
to use bad water, the good water being refused them. Men died frequently
of sheer neglect. He was sent off to make room for other prisoners,
because he was believed to be in a dying condition as it was manifestly
the purpose to poison all that could be destroyed by deleterious
food and water, or by neglect of their wants. He said that negroes
fired into their beds at night; and one was promoted for killing
a prisoner, from the ranks to sergeant.
......Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol.I Richmond, Virginia,
April, 1876. No. 4. The Treatment Of Prisoners During The War Between
Elmira POW Camp: The
following statement was written by JOHN J. VAN-ALLEN, who was
with the Baltimore Relief Organization
...Late in the fall of 1864...I had the
honor to be appointed by that organization to ascertain the needs
of the prisoners, to
distribute clothing, money, etc., as they might require. I had
formerly lived at Elmira, where I studied my profession, but then
(as now) I resided at this place, twenty miles distant from Elmira,
where I have resided for nearly twenty-five years, and was well
known at Elmira.
As soon as appointed I journeyed to that delightful paradise for
Confederate prisoners (according to Walker, Tracy and Platt), and
stated the object of my visit to the commanding officer, and asked
to be permitted to go through the prison in order to ascertain
the wants of the prisoners, with the request that I might distribute
necessary blankets, clothing, money, medicines, etc.
He treated me with consideration and kindness, and informed me
that they were very destitute of clothing and blankets; that not
one-half of them had even a single blanket; and that many were
nearly naked, the most of them having been captured during the
hot summer months with no other than thin cotton clothes, which
in most instances were in tatters. Yet he stated that he could
not allow me to enter the prison gate or administer relief, as
an order of the War Department rendered him powerless.
...The nearest I could get to the poor skeletons
confined in that prison, was a tower built by some speculator
in an adjoining field
across the way from the prison pen, for which privilege a money
consideration was exacted and paid. On taking a position upon this
tower what a sight of misery and squalor was presented! My heart
was made sick, and I blushed for my country - more because of the
inhumanity there depicted. Nearly all of the many thousands there
were in dirty rags. The rain was pouring, and thousands were without
shelter, standing in the mud in their bare feet, with clothes in
tatters, of the most unsubstantial material, without blankets.
I tell the truth, and Mr. Charles C. B. Watkins dare not deny it,
when I say these men suffered bitterly for the want of clothing,
blankets and other necessaries. I was denied the privilege of covering
...Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. I, March 1876, #4,
S.R. Curtis, Leavenworth, KS, on Oct. 15, 1864, replied to a
letter from US Attorney SE Browne, Denver, CO Territory, "Your
letter concerning the disposition of certain brigades calling themselves
Confederate soldiers is received. I have not the least sympathy
for such fiends; we are disposing of them very summarily everywhere...War
is butchery on a grand scale...Our troops everywhere now consider
it right to kill bushwhackers, even after they surrender." ...Official
Records, Vol. XLI pt. III: 523, pg. 596
The Uncivil War: Union Army & Navy Excesses
in the Official Records: by Thomas Bland Keys is an excellent
reference tool, relating
to Union acts of atrocities.
Lexington, KY: The rapid increase in this district
of lawless bands of armed men engaged in interrupting railroad
and telegraphic communications, plundering and murdering peaceful
union citizens, destroying the mails, etc., calls for the adoption
of stringent measures on the part of the military authorities for
their suppression. Therefore, all guerrillas, armed prowlers, by
whatever name they may be known, and rebel sympathizers are hereby
admonished that in future, stern retaliatory measures will be adopted
and strictly enforced, whenever the lives or property of peaceful
citizens are jeopardized by the lawless acts of such men. Rebel
sympathizers living within five miles of any scene of outrage committed
by armed men, not recognized as public enemies by the rules and
usages of war, will be arrested and sent beyond the limits of the
U.S. in accordance with instructions from the major general commanding
the military district of the MS. So much of the property of rebel
sympathizers as may be necessary to indemnify the government or
loyal citizens for losses incurred by the acts of such lawless
men will be seized and appropriated for this purpose. Whenever
an unarmed union citizen is murdered four guerrillas will be selected
from the prisoners in the hands of the military authorities and
publicly shot to death in the most convenient place near the scene
of the outrage.
….Gen. Orders No. 59 – HQ District of KY and 5th Div.
23rd Army Corps. Lexington, KY – July 16, 1864 – By
Command of Bvt. Maj. Gen. S. G. Burbridge.
The following excerpts are from the "Report
of the joint Select Committee appointed to investigate the Condition
and Treatment of POWs" presented by Mr. Perkins before the
House of Representatives. March 3, 1865. This also clarifies "Report
No. 67" of the pictures that the Union was publicizing about
their POW mistreatment.
The duties assigned to the committee under
the several resolutions of Congress designating them, "to investigate and report upon
the condition and treatment of the prisoners of war respectively
held by the Confederate and United States governments; upon the
causes of their detention, and the refusal to exchange; and also
upon the violations by the enemy of the rules of civilized warfare
in the conduct of the war." These subjects are broad in extent
and importance; and in order fully to investigate and present them,
the committee propose to continue their labors in obtaining evidence,
and deducing from it a truthful report of facts illustrative of
the spirit in which the war has been conducted.
One of these is the report of the joint select committee of the
Northern Congress on the conduct of the war, known as "Report
No. 67." The other purports to be a "Narrative of the
privations and sufferings of United States officers and soldiers
while prisoners of war," and is issued as a report of a commission
of enquiry appointed by "The United States Sanitary Commission."
"Report No. 67," and its appendages. It is accompanied
by eight pictures, or photographs, alleged to represent United
States prisoners of war, returned from Richmond, in a sad state
of emaciation and suffering. Concerning these cases, your committee
will have other remarks, to be presently submitted. They are only
alluded to now to show that this report does really belong to the "sensational" class
Truth to be Sought:First in order, your committee will notice
the charge contained both in "Report No. 67," and in
the "sanitary" publication, founded on the appearance
and condition of the sick prisoners sent from Richmond to Annapolis
and Baltimore about the last of April 1864. These are the men,
some of whom form the subjects of the photographs with which the
United States congressional committee have adorned their report.
The disingenuous attempt is made in both these publications to
produce the impression that these sick and emaciated men were fair
representatives of the general state of the prisoners held by the
South, and that all their prisoners were being rapidly reduced
to the same state, by starvation and cruelty, and by neglect, ill
treatment and denial of proper food, stimulants and medicines,
in the Confederate hospitals. Your committee take pleasure in saying
that not only is this charge proved to be wholly false, but the
evidence ascertains facts as to the Confederate hospitals, in which
Northern prisoners of war are treated, highly creditable to the
authorities which established them, and to the surgeons and their
aids who have so humanely conducted them. The facts are simply
The Federal authorities, in violation of the cartel, having for
a long time refused exchange of prisoners, finally consented to
a partial exchange of the sick and wounded on both sides. Accordingly,
a number of such prisoners were sent from the hospitals in Richmond.
General directions had been given that none should be sent except
those who might be expected to endure the removal and passage with
safety to their lives; but in some cases the surgeons were induced
to depart from this rule, by the entreaties of some officers and
men in the last stages of emaciation, suffering not only with excessive
debility, but with "nostalgia," or home sickness, whose
cases were regarded as desperate, and who could not live if they
remained, and might possibly improve if carried home. Thus it happened
that some very sick and emaciated men were carried to Annapolis,
but their illness was not the result of ill treatment or neglect.
Such cases might be found in any large hospital, North or South.
They might even be found in private families, where the sufferer
would be surrounded by every comfort that love could bestow. Yet
these are the cases which, with hideous violation of decency, the
Northern committee have paraded in pictures and photographs. They
have taken their own sick and enfeebled soldiers; have stripped
them naked; have exposed them before a daguerreian apparatus; have
pictured every shrunken limb and muscle--and all for the purpose,
not of relieving their sufferings, but of bringing a false and
slanderous charge against the South.
Confederate Sick and Wounded - their Condition
when returned: In refuting this charge, your committee are compelled by the evidence
to bring a counter charge against the Northern authorities, which
they fear will not be so easily refuted. In exchange, a number
of Confederate sick and wounded prisoners have been at various
times delivered at Richmond and at Savannah. The mortality among
these on the passage and their condition when delivered were so
deplorable as to justify the charge that they had been treated
with inhuman neglect by the Northern authorities.
Assistant Surg. Tinsley testifies: "I have seen many of our
prisoners returned from the North, who were nothing but skin and
bones. They were as emaciated as a man could be to retain life,
and the photographs (appended to 'Report No. 67,') would not be
exaggerated representations of our returned prisoners to whom I
thus allude. I saw 250 of our sick brought in on litters from the
steamer at Rocketts. Thirteen dead bodies were brought off the
steamer the same night. At least thirty died in one night after
they were received."
Surg. Spence testifies: "I was at Savannah, and saw rather
over three thousand prisoners received. The list showed that a
large number had died on the passage from Baltimore to Savannah.
The number sent from the Federal prisons was 3,500, and out of
that number they delivered only 3,028, to the best of my recollection.
Capt. Hatch can give you the exact number. Thus, about 472 died
on the passage. I was told that 67 dead bodies had been taken from
one train of cars between Elmira and Baltimore. After being received
at Savannah, they had the best attention possible, yet many died
in a few days."--"In carrying out the exchange of disabled,
sick and wounded men, we delivered at Savannah and Charleston about
11,000 Federal prisoners, and their physical condition compared
most favorably with those we received in exchange, although of
course the worst cases among the Confederates had been removed
by death during the passage."
Richard H. Dibrell, a merchant of Richmond, and a member of the "ambulance
committee," whose labors in mitigating the sufferings of the
wounded have been acknowledged both by Confederate and Northern
men, thus testifies concerning our sick and wounded soldiers at
Savannah, returned from Northern Prisons and hospitals: "I
have never seen a set of men in worse condition. They were so enfeebled
and emaciated that we lifted them like little children. Many of
them were like living skeletons. Indeed, there was one poor boy
about 17 years old, who presented the most distressing and deplorable
appearance I ever saw. He was nothing but skin and bone, and besides
this, he was literally eaten up with vermin. He died in the hospital
in a few days after being removed thither, notwithstanding the
kindest treatment and the use of the most judicious nourishment.
Our men were in so reduced a condition, that on more than one trip
up on the short passage of ten miles from the transports to the
city, as many as five died. The clothing of the privates was in
a wretched state of tatters and filth."--"The mortality
on the passage from Maryland was very great as well as that on
the passage from the prisons to the port from which they started.
I cannot state the exact number, but I think I heard that 3,500
were started, and we only received about 3,027."--"I
have looked at the photographs appended to 'Report No. 67' of the
committee of the Federal Congress, and do not hesitate to declare
that several of our men were worse cases of emaciation and sickness
than any represented in these photographs."
Cruelty to Confederate prisoners at the North:
The witnesses who were at Point Lookout, Fort Delaware, Camp Morton
and Camp Douglas, testify that they have often seen our men picking
up the scraps and refuse thrown out from the kitchens, with which
to appease their hunger.
Capt. Wm. H. Sebring testifies: "Two of us, A. C. Grimes
and myself, were carried out into the open air in the prison yard,
on the 25th of December 1863, and handcuffed to a post. Here we
were kept all night in sleet, snow and cold. We were relieved in
the day time, but again brought to the post and handcuffed to it
in the evening"and thus we were kept all night until the 2d
of January 1864. I was badly frost-bitten, and my health was much
impaired. This cruel infliction was done by order of Capt. Byrnes,
Commandant of Prisons in St. Louis. He was barbarous and insulting
to the last degree."
Our Prisoners put into Camps Infected With Small Pox:
But even a greater inhumanity than any we have mentioned, was
perpetrated upon our prisoners at Camp Douglas and Camp Chase.
It is proved by the testimony of Thomas P. Holloway, John P. Fennell,
H. H. Barlow, H. C. Barton, C. D. Bracken and J. S. Barlow, that
our prisoners in large numbers were put into "condemned camps," where
small-pox was prevailing, and speedily contracted this loathsome
disease, and that as many as 40 new cases often appeared daily
The insufficient rations at Camp Morton forced our men to appease
their hunger by pounding up and boiling bones, picking up scraps
of meat and cabbage from the hospital slop tubs, and even eating
rats and dogs. The depositions of William Ayres and J. Chambers
Brent prove these privations.
The punishments often inflicted on our men for slight offences,
have been shameful and barbarous. They have been compelled to ride
a plank only four inches wide, called "Morgan's horse;" to
sit down with their naked bodies in the snow for ten or fifteen
minutes, and have been subjected to the ignominy of stripes from
the belts of their guards. The pretext has been used, that many
of their acts of cruelty have been by way of retaliation.
Why Have not Prisoners of War Been Exchanged:
They have blockaded our ports; have excluded from us food, clothing
and medicines; have even declared medicines contraband of war,
and have repeatedly destroyed the contents of drug stores and the
supplies of private physicians in the country; have ravaged our
country; burned our houses and destroyed growing crops and farming
implements. One of their officers (General Sheridan) has boasted
in his official report, that in the Shenandoah valley alone be
burned two thousand barns filled with wheat and corn; that he burned
all the mills in the whole tract of country; destroyed all the
factories of cloth, and killed or drove off every animal, even
to the poultry, that could contribute to human sustenance. These
desolations have been repeated again and again in different parts
of the South. Thousands of our families have been driven from their
homes, as helpless and destitute refugees. Our enemies have destroyed
the rail roads and other means of transportation, by which food
could be supplied from abundant districts to those without it.
While thus desolating our country, in violation of the usages of
civilized warfare, they have refused to exchange prisoners; have
forced us to keep fifty thousand of their men in captivity-- and
yet have attempted to attribute to us the sufferings and privations
caused by their own acts. We cannot doubt that in the view of civilization
we shall stand acquitted, while they must be condemned.
Yet even these mercenaries, when taken captive by us, have been
treated with proper humanity.
A Bill In the Senate of the U.S.
For the relief of certain Confederate officers for improper and
illegal injuries inflicted.
Whereas upon the 18th day of June, 1864, upon the demand of Major
Gen. J.G. Foster, commanding the Union forces of the Dept. of the
South, 50 Confederate officers were sent to him by the order of
Major Gen. Halleck, US Army, for the purpose of retaliation, the
said Major Gen. Foster, assuming from certain correspondence between
him and Major Gen. Sam Jones, of the Confederate Army, that certain
Union officers held as prisoners of war in the city of Charleston,
SC, were so located in said city that they were in danger of being
injured from the explosion of shells fired from Batteries Waggoner,
Gregg, and other land batteries, and from the U.S. fleet shelling
the aforesaid city; and
Whereas, after mutual explanation between the aforesaid U. S. and
Confederate generals, the said misunderstanding resulted in the
exchange of the 50 Confederate officers sent to Major Gen. Foster,
as aforesaid, for an equal number of U.S. officers; and
Whereas, notwithstanding after said explanation and mutual exchange,
together with evidence that the facts charged were false, the said
Gen. Foster again called for 600 other Confederate officers of
different ranks, who were being held as prisoners of war at Ft.
DE, to be sent to Morris Island as subjects for special retaliation,
notwithstanding no charges were made against them other than prisoners
of war captured in battle. By order of Major Gen. Halleck, U. S.
Army, on the 20th day of August, 1864, the said 600 Confederate
officers were placed aboard the steamer Crescent at Ft. DE, to
be transported to Morris Island, SC. The capacity of the steamer
was inadequate for such a number; and all being required to remain
below deck, the suffering from heat and filth and thirst for water
was unbearable, and the voyage which should have been made in three
days was lengthened out to eighteen days, so that upon arrival
at Morris Island they were in a famished condition. Here they were
confined from the 9th day of September, 1864, to the 20th day of
November in a stockade built between Batteries Gregg and Waggoner
of the Union forces on Morris Island, with no protection from the
burning rays of the sun save small fly tents and within immediate
range of the fire of the guns from the Confederate batteries replying
to the bombarding of the city of Charlestown, whilst also endangered
by the premature bursting of shells fired from the Union batteries
immediately over their heads. The daily rations issued during this
term of 42 days consisted of four hard tack Army crackers, frequently
wormy; one ounce of fat pickled pork and half a pint of bean soup,
alternated at times with half a pint of mush made form meal that
was old and wormy; and the only drinking water was impure, being
obtained from wells dug in the sand upon which the stockade was
Whereas, also on the 20th day of November, 1864, the said 600 Confederate
officers were removed from the stockade and transported to Ft.
Pulaski, GA, where they were assigned to quarter in the cold, damp
casemates, without fire or blankets to protect them from the cold
blasts of winter. After some weeks intervened, 200 of the number
were sent to Hilton Head, SC, to relieve the crowded condition
of the fort, which was telling upon their constitutions. Again
the specious plea of retaliation was resorted to without any alleged
grounds as before, and an order was given that each daily ration
should be 10 ounces of rotten corn meal only, which, when baked
in a cake, constituted the entire food for a day, and to this was
added an ample supply of cucumber and onion pickle, which, if eaten,
only increased the pangs of hunger. This was the sole and entire
rations upon which those 600 officers were compelled to subsist
for 65 consecutive days; and
Whereas this treatment of said Confederate officers, against whom
no charges were made other than recognized prisoners of war, was
unjustifiable and contrary to all the acknowledged rights of belligerency
and without a precedent as an established principle in civilized
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
U.S. in Congress assembled, That the Treasurer of the U.S. is hereby
ordered and directed to pay to each survivor of the 600 aforesaid
officers and to the legal heirs of the deceased officers the sum
of $5,000.00 each, as damages and reparation for the acts aforesaid.
62nd Congress, 2nd Session, 1/18/1912
By Mr. Swanson. Read twice & referred to the Committee on Claims.
Washington 8/10/1864 - To the Pres. of the U.S.
from De.E. Sickles, Mjr. Gen. USV
"Pending the suspension of regular exchanges no effort should
be spared to mitigate the sufferings of these gallant men, thrown
by the fortunes of war into the hands of a cruel enemy. We must
either remain inactive witnesses of their sufferings or retaliate
upon the prisoners in our hands, or renew our efforts to afford
succor to our men.
Apart from the objections which exist to the policy of retaliation,
it is at least doubtful whether it would inure to the benefit of
our men, for the reason that the enemy are reported to be without
the means to supply clothing, medicines and other needful supplies
even to their own troops."
Read other POW accounts from various prisons, under our Atrocities
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