Opposition to the Halt of Prisoner Exchange

Cavalry Charger

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#1
"The Confederacy’s refusal to acknowledge captured black servicemen as legitimate prisoners of war halted prisoner-of-war exchanges in the summer of 1863. By the end of the year, the Confederacy was willing to discuss returning black soldiers who upon enlistment had been legally free as the Confederacy defined it (i.e., not under the Emancipation Proclamation). That position was not sufficient for top Union officials--President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and General Ulysses S. Grant--who remained steadfastly committed to ensuring the equal treatment of Union prisoners of war. Davis and Confederate officials finally relented in January 1865, agreeing to exchange all prisoners. A few thousand prisoners of war, including freed slaves, were exchanged by the Confederacy and Union until the end of the war in April"

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/0815.html

In light of the suffering endured by prisoners on both sides during the period when prisoner exchange was halted, is there any evidence of opposition to either side's position from their own supporters? This could be political opposition, journalistic opposition, military opposition, etc. The ordinary soldier also may have expressed opposition via letters, etc. I have not come across any writing in relation to this so far, so I'm wondering if these positions were generally accepted as the war raged on.
 

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"The public reaction to conditions in these prison camps were one of horror, but both the Confederate and Union army refused to do anything about it.

Many women volunteered as nurses and aides in the prisons in order to better help the prisoners. When they couldn’t get nursing jobs, some of these women, such as Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, brought the prisoners much needed food and medical supplies, using the opportunity to gather valuable military information to pass along to military officials.

Despite the horrific conditions and the public’s opposition to the camps, the prison camps only came to an end when the Civil War ended in 1865".

http://civilwarsaga.com/civil-war-prison-camps/

It seems the public were reacting to both the conditions and the existence of these camps. Which means there may well have been opposition to policies relating to the halting of prisoner exchanges. This also seems to be true for both sides.
 

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"By supporting the Union’s position on black prisoners of war, the (Lieber) code of 1863 helped to shape the remaining two years of the conflict. When the Lincoln administration stood up for the rights of black soldiers, prisoner exchanges broke down irretrievably. The Confederate officer in charge of prisoner exchanges, Robert Ould, said that Southerners would “die in the last ditch” before they agreed to treat blacks as regular soldiers. With exchanges at a standstill, conditions in prisoner of war camps on both sides quickly deteriorated. Populations spiked at already overcrowded camps such as Andersonville in the South and Elmira in the North. All told, 56,000 prisoners of war died in enemy custody during the war, most of them casualties of the halt in exchanges that Lincoln’s code of war helped to bring about"

http://www.historynet.com/lincoln-changes-rules-war.htm

The Lieber Code seems to underlie some of the thinking with regard to prisoner exchanges, and to me it does feel like an element of 'hard war' where no sacrifice, or suffering, was too great to help bring about and end to the war. I thought this was an interesting connection to make with regard to the linked article.
 

USS ALASKA

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#8
Ma'ams / Sirs - perhaps this would be of interest...

Collection; Master of Military Art and Science Theses
Title; Effects of the cessation of exchange of prisoners during the Civil War.
Author; Pierce, Donald R.

Abstract; This study examines the effects of halting the exchanges of prisoners during the American Civil War. When exchanges were ceased by General Grant in April 1864, both the Union and Confederate Armies were thereafter deprived of a badly needed source of manpower. In addition, the need for fighting men in the North persuaded the Federal Government to include a much larger number of negro regiments in the front lines of battles. When the Civil War began, prisoner exchange was an accepted practice of international law. Initially exchanges were conducted on an informal basis, but a cartel was signed in July 1862. During the first three years of the war many captured Confederate soldiers returned via the exchange process and fought again. When General Grant became General-in-Chief of the Union Army in early 1864, he was aware of the South's manpower problems, and as a matter of course ordered exchanges ceased. The paper examines the effects this cessation had on both the Union and Confederate forces. The halt of exchanges denied the Union and Confederacy badly needed manpower. In addition, at the height of abolitionist pressure to enlist more negroes, the Union Army placed into battle many more negro regiments than ever before. The strategy employed by General Grant supported his plan to defeat the Confederate armies in the field and bring the war to close.

Series; Command and General Staff College (CGSC) MMAS thesis
Publisher; Fort Leavenworth, KS : US Army Command and General Staff College,
Date; Original 1993-06-04
Date; Digital 2007
Call number; ADA 273943
Release statement; Approved for public release; Distribution is unlimited. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the student-authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College or any other governmental agency. (References to these studies should include the foregoing statement.)
Repository; Combined Arms Research Library
Library; Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library
Date created; 2007-11-18
498

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

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Pat Young

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#10
"By supporting the Union’s position on black prisoners of war, the (Lieber) code of 1863 helped to shape the remaining two years of the conflict. When the Lincoln administration stood up for the rights of black soldiers, prisoner exchanges broke down irretrievably. The Confederate officer in charge of prisoner exchanges, Robert Ould, said that Southerners would “die in the last ditch” before they agreed to treat blacks as regular soldiers. With exchanges at a standstill, conditions in prisoner of war camps on both sides quickly deteriorated. Populations spiked at already overcrowded camps such as Andersonville in the South and Elmira in the North. All told, 56,000 prisoners of war died in enemy custody during the war, most of them casualties of the halt in exchanges that Lincoln’s code of war helped to bring about"

http://www.historynet.com/lincoln-changes-rules-war.htm

The Lieber Code seems to underlie some of the thinking with regard to prisoner exchanges, and to me it does feel like an element of 'hard war' where no sacrifice, or suffering, was too great to help bring about and end to the war. I thought this was an interesting connection to make with regard to the linked article.
The Lieber Code was less an element of "hard war" and more an effort to provide protection to black soldiers of the United States.
 

Pat Young

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#11
"The Confederacy’s refusal to acknowledge captured black servicemen as legitimate prisoners of war halted prisoner-of-war exchanges in the summer of 1863. By the end of the year, the Confederacy was willing to discuss returning black soldiers who upon enlistment had been legally free as the Confederacy defined it (i.e., not under the Emancipation Proclamation). That position was not sufficient for top Union officials--President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and General Ulysses S. Grant--who remained steadfastly committed to ensuring the equal treatment of Union prisoners of war. Davis and Confederate officials finally relented in January 1865, agreeing to exchange all prisoners. A few thousand prisoners of war, including freed slaves, were exchanged by the Confederacy and Union until the end of the war in April"

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/0815.html

In light of the suffering endured by prisoners on both sides during the period when prisoner exchange was halted, is there any evidence of opposition to either side's position from their own supporters? This could be political opposition, journalistic opposition, military opposition, etc. The ordinary soldier also may have expressed opposition via letters, etc. I have not come across any writing in relation to this so far, so I'm wondering if these positions were generally accepted as the war raged on.
There was definitely criticism. Prisoners remarked in letters that the suspension of the cartel was abandonment by their government.

The was a lot of political criticism as well. Democrats in the North blamed Lincoln for placing the lives of black soldiers above the suffering of white men. Here is an article from a Democratic paper:

The Care of the Administration for the Soldiers Who Fight Our Battles
Wisconsin Daily Patriot
Wednesday, Sep 28, 1864
Madison, WI
Vol: 10
Issue: 228
Page: 1


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Cavalry Charger

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#12
The Lieber Code was less an element of "hard war" and more an effort to provide protection to black soldiers of the United States.
I think I can find something in the link @USS ALASKA provided, Pat, to indicate the ending of prisoner exchange was also seen to be a strategy of the war used to starve the Confederacy of manpower. The Lieber Code set the stage for not only provision of protection to black soldiers, but also a winning formula for the war. The refusal of the Confederate Govt. to exchange blacks who were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation (rather than already being freedmen) meant the impasse that followed assured a weaker Confederacy and a greater chance of Union victory.

As to my reference to 'hard war', I would consider this a hard war strategy in terms of its attempt to demoralize the Confederacy. It's not 'hard war' in the strictest sense of the word. But, it is a policy designed to help win the war by any means necessary.

Alternatively, it makes one wonder what would have happened if these exchanges had been agreed to - another move by the Confederacy that appears to have been come too little and too late. The war certainly could have gone on longer.
 

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#13
Here is an article from a Democratic paper:
We can see the dilemma in the last paragraph of the article you posted, Pat.

"The blacks, on the contrary, are seldom imprisoned. They are distributed among the citizens, or employed on Government works. Under these circumstances they receive enough to eat, and are worked no harder than they are accustomed to be. They are neither starved, nor killed off by pestilence in the dungeons of Richmond and Charleston. It is true that they are again made slaves; but their slavery is freedom and happiness compared to the cruel existence imposed upon our gallant men. They are not bereft of hope, as are the white soldiers, dying by piecemeal. Their chances of escape are tenfold greater than those of the white soldiers, and their condition, in all its lights, is tolerable in comparison with that of the prisoners of war now languishing in the dens and pens of secession."

Now, this is heartbreaking to me, that a choice must be made between one man's freedom and another man's life (which was often the result).

If ever there was a phyrric aspect to the Civil War, this is it for me.
 
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Cavalry Charger

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Below taken from paper linked by @USS ALASKA :

Relations between the two disintegrated. Pressure grew from civilians throughout the north, especially relatives of Union prisoners suffering in below-standard prisons such as Andersonville, Georgia, and Libby in Richmond, Virginia. In response, Stanton replaced Ludlow with Brigadier General Sullivan A. Meredith in the hopes of resuming exchanges. Pressure also came from other groups in the North. The Democrats cried for an end to the war, which meant more men were needed with which to win by superior numbers. Pressure also came from abolitionists wanting to see negroes in the army fighting for their own freedom. President Lincoln, among others, realized the existence of a large as yet untapped resource in the growing black population available to serve in the Union army. Large numbers of free blacks from both the north and the south, and former slaves were prepared to fight for a cause which had by now come to the forefront of the war--freedom. The cessation of exchanges and the need for replacements in the North led the Federal Government, specifically President Lincoln, to employ black soldiers on a large scale.

Though Meredith and Ould met on many occasions to discuss accounting of paroles and exchanges, little was accomplished. One of the major points of contention was the refusal on the part of the Confederates to consider captured black soldiers as prisoners of war. Though not many had been captured, those that had were returned to previous owners or sold as property. The Union demanded black Federal soldiers not be considered any different than white soldiers. Accusations, it seemed, were exchanged more often than prisoners. On November 15, 1863, Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon declared, "All exchanges have now ceased with little apparent prospect of renewal. The stalemate continued.

On November 18, General Benjamin Butler, Federal Commander of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and newly appointed Agent of Exchange, wrote to Secretary Stanton with a request to resume negotiations for exchange. His information from various sources convinced him that the Confederates would agree to an exchange. The Union held approximately 26,000 prisoners, while the Confederacy had 13,000. General Butler's recommendation to Secretary Stanton was to propose to Robert Ould an exchange, man for man and officer for officer, until all Union soldiers suffering in Confederate prisons were returned. The excess of some 10,000 prisoners in the hands of the Union would then give them something substantial with which to bargain for the return of any colored soldiers and their officers still within Confederate hands. Butler's proposal was approved by the Secretary of War, and after notifying Mr. Ould, several small exchanges occurred during the next two months.

Despite limited success, Butler and Ould did not reach agreement to any great extent on behalf of their respective governments. On April 1, 1864, shortly after General Grant was appointed as commanding general of all Union forces, he visited General Butler at Fort Monroe. Butler advised him of the difficulties thus far experienced in the exchange negotiations, and of the large number of Confederate prisoners still in Union prisons. On April 17, General Grant ordered all exchanges to cease. Meanwhile, the public in the north, and Union prisoners themselves, were increasing pressure on the government to get all Union prisoners released and sent home. Prisoners in Andersonville, Georgia, submitted a petition to the Union government to "effect our speedy release, either on parole or by exchange."

As they explained:

No one can know the horrors of imprisonment in crowded and filthy quarters but him who has endured it . . . . But hunger, filth, nakedness, squalor, and disease are as nothing compared with the heartsickness that wears prisoners down . . . .

Letters from the public were also addressed to Lincoln. One example, from a concerned father whose son was in Andersonville wrote that his son:

has a family here consisting of a wife and two children in indigent circumstances . . . my said son and 30,000more brave soldiers must perish unless the Government should relieve them by bringing about an exchange.

The purpose for the cessation of exchanges is determinably linked to its effects. While Grant openly stated that he refused to exchange any more prisoners until the South agreed to include captured black soldiers, he more privately insisted that it would end the war more quickly. He keenly recognized the lack of replacements available to the South, and strongly believed that released Confederate prisoners would quickly rearm and reenter the fight. The continued internment of tens of thousands of Confederate prisoners denied the South many badly needed soldiers. The population of deployable white males in the South was significantly smaller that in the North. In addition, by 1864, desertion, casualties, and the inability to properly supply the soldiers had taken its toll on the Confederate armies.

Although the Union maintained an advantage in numbers there was an ever increasing need for replacements in the Union army as well. As the North expanded its stranglehold on the South, manning of ports and harbors, control of railroads and depots, and the greater numbers required to take the offensive demanded a larger force than ever before. As with the Confederacy, desertion and casualties took their toll on Federal strength. Gross abuses of the bounty and substitution laws among draftees aided in keeping the army below needed strength. Many Union prisoners had already died in Southern prisons, and many were still interned. The large number still in prison, should they be exchanged, would have provided many badly needed replacements. The effects of this cessation on the manning of both the Union and Confederate armies, and the significant increase in negro regiments in combat, are the central point of this paper.
 
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Pat Young

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We can see the dilemma in the last paragraph of the article you posted, Pat.

"The blacks, on the contrary, are seldom imprisoned. They are distributed among the citizens, or employed on Government works. Under these circumstances they receive enough to eat, and are worked no harder than they are accustomed to be. They are neither starved, nor killed off by pestilence in the dungeons of Richmond and Charleston. It is true that they are again made slaves; but their slavery is freedom and happiness compared to the cruel existence imposed upon our gallant men. They are not bereft of hope, as are the white soldiers, dying by piecemeal. Their chances of escape are tenfold greater than those of the white soldiers, and their condition, in all its lights, is tolerable in comparison with that of the prisoners of war now languishing in the dens and pens of secession."

Now, this is heartbreaking to me, that a must be made between one man's freedom and another man's life (which was often the result).

If ever there was a phyrric aspect to the Civil War, this is it for me.
I think that the newspaper is perhaps being misunderstood. The blacks are seldom imprisoned because they are either executed upon capture or sold as slaves. The writer, falling back on Democratic propaganda of pre-war days of the happyh slave, says that their "slavery is freedom and happiness" compared to the experiences of white prisoner. There is little evidence of that. In fact, captured blacks were often treated with incredible levels of abuse and their officers often suffered similar fates.
 

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I think that the newspaper is perhaps being misunderstood. The blacks are seldom imprisoned because they are either executed upon capture or sold as slaves. The writer, falling back on Democratic propaganda of pre-war days of the happyh slave, says that their "slavery is freedom and happiness" compared to the experiences of white prisoner. There is little evidence of that. In fact, captured blacks were often treated with incredible levels of abuse and their officers often suffered similar fates.
Thanks, Pat, for your insights. I do accept that captured blacks may not have been as well treated as whites, and certainly not if they were returned to a position of slavery. As you say, there is an element of propaganda attached to this, in imagining the life of a slave is preferable to that of a prisoner ... both in effect are prisoners. And both can suffer cruel, degrading treatment at the hands of their captors/masters. The racial divide was already created, so this is another reflection upon it, and how neither situation was as one would want it to be.
 

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#17
I think that the newspaper is perhaps being misunderstood. The blacks are seldom imprisoned because they are either executed upon capture or sold as slaves. The writer, falling back on Democratic propaganda of pre-war days of the happyh slave, says that their "slavery is freedom and happiness" compared to the experiences of white prisoner. There is little evidence of that. In fact, captured blacks were often treated with incredible levels of abuse and their officers often suffered similar fates.
Seriously, are we to believe white Northerners were so humanistic that they would tolerate tens of thousands of their loved ones to suffer in POWs camps because their government told them the Confederates were sending blacks POWs back to their masters, selling the free ones into slavery or abusing them in some way. If the whites seriously that, there would have been violence in the streets that equaled or surpassed the draft riots. Plantation life might not have been a happy life for most blacks, but it would have been a lot happier than Andersonville, Salisbury, and etc.
 

Pat Young

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#18
Seriously, are we to believe white Northerners were so humanistic that they would tolerate tens of thousands of their loved ones to suffer in POWs camps because their government told them the Confederates were sending blacks POWs back to their masters, selling the free ones into slavery or abusing them in some way.
Their government did tell them that.
 



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