Prisoner interrogatiions


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#2
In reading about prisoner interrogations during the war, it seems quite a few talked very willingly. What were the methods used and did either side ever use torture ? I've never read much on the subject.
All wars use torture. For example Union soldiers per T.J. Stiles in his book " Jesse James last Rebel of the Civil War" cites Jesse James stepfather being hung by the neck and the released just before he died to find the whereabouts of Confederate insurgents.
I will send you a link to Confederate Home Guards in North Carolina who tortured women to find the whereabouts abouts of Confederate Conscription dodgers.
Torture is going to be common during counterinsurgency and plenty of that in both sides in the ACW.
Conventional soldiers on both sides knew from exchanged soldiers that prison camps on both sides were nasty places so it might be advantageous to get special treatment by giving information to the enemy.
Leftyhunter
 
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#3
In reading about prisoner interrogations during the war, it seems quite a few talked very willingly. What were the methods used and did either side ever use torture ? I've never read much on the subject.
I have not read about torture of conventional troops not to say it ever happened. Not as likely because then it becomes a race to the bottom.
Many troops on both sides didn't want to be in the army so they will say what ever it takes to ease their plight.
No doubt a good bottle of rye or bourbon might work wonders in loosening lips.
A good meal would not hurt either.
Leftyhunter
 
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jgoodguy

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#4
I have not read about torture of conventional troops not to say it ever happened. Not as likely because then it becomes a race to the bottom.
Many troops on both sides didn't wan to be in the army so they will say what ever it takes to ease their plight.
No doubt a good bottle of rye or bourbon might work wonders in loosening lips.
A good meal would not hurt either.
Leftyhunter
Booze, good meal, and just listen has found many things.
 

TnFed

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#5
All wars use torture. For example Union soldiers per T.J. Stiles in his book " Jesse James last Rebel of the Civil War" cites Jesse James stepfather being hung by the neck and the released just before he died to find the whereabouts of Confederate insurgents.
I will send you a link to Confederate Home Guards in North Carolina who tortured women to find the whereabouts abouts of Confederate Conscription dodgers.
Torture is going to be common during counterinsurgency and plenty of that in both sides in the ACW.
Conventional soldiers on both sides knew from exchanged soldiers that prison camps on both sides were nasty places so it might be advantageous to get special treatment by giving information to the enemy.
Leftyhunter
Captain Robert Teague of the Haywood County Home Guard was reputed to be very apt at extracting information from those he suspected.
 
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#9
In reading about prisoner interrogations during the war, it seems quite a few talked very willingly. What were the methods used and did either side ever use torture ? I've never read much on the subject.
Maybe I should clarify my question. I know about the home guards, the women and such
I meant when p.o.ws were captured in combat. Thanks for all the answer's, very enlightenimg.
 

major bill

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#10
I am not sure POWs were overly tortured to obtain information. I am not sure most captured soldiers had that much vital information to need to torture them to obtain. Intelligence is time sensitive and the amount of time needed to process information, analyze it, and turn it in to useful intelligence was limited.
 

CSA Today

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#11
I have not read about torture of conventional troops not to say it ever happened. Not as likely because then it becomes a race to the bottom.
Many troops on both sides didn't want to be in the army so they will say what ever it takes to ease their plight.
No doubt a good bottle of rye or bourbon might work wonders in loosening lips.
A good meal would not hurt either.
Leftyhunter
1546728748783.png
 
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#12
Was Coleman's Scouts a regular uniformed unit of the Confederate Army or was it a guerrilla or non uniformed unit. If it was the latter then being tortured is just a day at the office. If Dewitt if a regular uniformed soldier then a formal complaint would of been made by a high ranking Confederate officer to his Union counterpart because otherwise it would be a race to the bottom.
Leftyhunter
 
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#13
So per www.tennesse-scv.org colemansscouts/mp.htm

" The men left off their uniforms occasionally wearing citizens suits or federal uniforms, they were not required to do it".
If Dewitt is out of uniform then he can not claim belligerent status and he is no longer a regular uniformed . Meaning if caught he is not entitled to any special consideration by Federal soldiers.
Leftyhunter
 

lelliott19

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#14
This is the best account of a prisoner interrogation I've ever run across - by far. From The National Tribune., July 07, 1910, page 1. Here's an quick excerpt to spark your curiosity and, hopefully, prompt you to read the whole thing.

General Grant: "Well, where were you taken and how did you get here?"
NC Prisoner: "How did I get h'yah? Well, when a man has half a dozen o' them thah reckless and des'prit dragoons o' yourn lammin' him along the road on a tight run and wallopin' him with the flats o' thah sabahs, he dont have no trouble gittin h'yah."

Here's a link to the whole thing: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/ca...-by-grant-at-cold-harbor.143857/#post-1770166
 
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#15
This is the best account of a prisoner interrogation I've ever run across - by far. From The National Tribune., July 07, 1910, page 1. Here's an quick excerpt to spark your curiosity and, hopefully, prompt you to read the whole thing.

General Grant: "Well, where were you taken and how did you get here?"
NC Prisoner: "How did I get h'yah? Well, when a man has half a dozen o' them thah reckless and des'prit dragoons o' yourn lammin' him along the road on a tight run and wallopin' him with the flats o' thah sabahs, he dont have no trouble gittin h'yah."

Here's a link to the whole thing: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/ca...-by-grant-at-cold-harbor.143857/#post-1770166
I can't find it right now but there's an account of a Texan captured at in the Wilderness that is
just as amusing and entertaining as this one. I remember him saying that Chickamauga had
a front and rear but this battle didn't have either and one Billy Yank asked him if he still thought
one Rebel could whip ten Yankees. The Texan said " Well Sonny, that's just one of those D_____d
abolitionist lies that started this war". Perhaps someone can find this account, I'd love to read it
again!
 

CSA Today

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#17
Was Coleman's Scouts a regular uniformed unit of the Confederate Army or was it a guerrilla or non uniformed unit. If it was the latter then being tortured is just a day at the office. If Dewitt if a regular uniformed soldier then a formal complaint would of been made by a high ranking Confederate officer to his Union counterpart because otherwise it would be a race to the bottom.
Leftyhunter
Seven Federal scouts wearing Confederate uniforms rode into Laurinburg, NC a day or two before Sherman's main army. Railroad rolling stock had been moved here from Wilmington after the fall of Ft. Fisher and there was the Buchanan-Morrison gun factory in the county in nearby Laurel Hill. The Home Guard was notified, but the spies managed to flee across the state line into South Carolina and escape. But say they had been captured, it would have been fine with you had the Home Guard gouged their eyes out and indulged in other fiendish torture to gain information?
 
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#18
A very good new book on military intelligence in the Civil War is Peter G. Tsouras' Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War. Sharpe was the director of the Army of the Potomac's Bureau of Military Information (BMI), which was created in 1863. Tsouras makes several points regarding prisoner interrogation.

At the time, soldiers were given little or no instruction of what they could/should say if captured. The modern day rule about restricting information to name, rank, and serial number were not yet inplace. Even if the PW merely gave their regiment, division, and corps, that was very useful information for a competent intelligence element in building order of battle information. It is useful to know that Longstreet's Corps is to your front. It may be even more useful to know that Longstreet isn't there, and hasn't been there for two weeks [because he's been moved to Tennessee to support Bragg and is preparing for the Battle of Chickamauga].

Deserters were motivated to cooperate with their captors, and desertion from the Army of Northern Virginia was rampant. By deciding to desert, they had abrogated their former loyalties. Cooperative deserters, whose information was confirmed from other sources, were paroled by the BMI and moved North once they had sworn the oath of allegiance. The BMI attempted to make sure that this opportunity was made known to soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia. Similarly, PWs who did not want to be paroled back South, or exchanged, were useful sources of information. It was better to be housed, feed, clothed, and safe in a Federal PW pen than starving and at risk with Bobby Lee's army. By 1864, large numbers of Confederate PWs were refusing exchange.

Torture is the refuge of the stupid and the incompetent. A judicious application of pain will produce a confession to any crime or matter that the interrogator wants a confession to. My teaching point is the good, Catholic fathers of the Dominican Order, who caused tens of thousands of "witches" to be burned alive during the Inquisition. The "witches" had all confessed, because being burned alive was preferable to what the good fathers were doing to them to save their souls. None of that made the confessions in the slightest degree true.

From a military intelligence standpoint, torture is counter-productive. A man who knows nothing will create out of whole cloth what he thinks you want to hear simply to make the pain go away. The intelligence officer then chases his tail, at a great waste of time and effort, following and trying to confirm the resulting false leads. It also raises the ethical problem for the commander of possibly populating his intelligence organization with sadists, although that particular pathology was probably ill understood at the time of the Civil War.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
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#19
Seven Federal scouts wearing Confederate uniforms rode into Laurinburg, NC a day or two before Sherman's main army. Railroad rolling stock had been moved here from Wilmington after the fall of Ft. Fisher and there was the Buchanan-Morrison gun factory in the county in nearby Laurel Hill. The Home Guard was notified, but the spies managed to flee across the state line into South Carolina and escape. But say they had been captured, it would have been fine with you had the Home Guard gouged their eyes out and indulged in other fiendish torture to gain information?
No because the Confederate Home Guards are Rebels and have no legal right to harm anyone in support of an illegal rebellion.
Leftyhunter
 
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#20
A very good new book on military intelligence in the Civil War is Peter G. Tsouras' Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War. Sharpe was the director of the Army of the Potomac's Bureau of Military Information (BMI), which was created in 1863. Tsouras makes several points regarding prisoner interrogation.

At the time, soldiers were given little or no instruction of what they could/should say if captured. The modern day rule about restricting information to name, rank, and serial number were not yet inplace. Even if the PW merely gave their regiment, division, and corps, that was very useful information for a competent intelligence element in building order of battle information. It is useful to know that Longstreet's Corps is to your front. It may be even more useful to know that Longstreet isn't there, and hasn't been there for two weeks [because he's been moved to Tennessee to support Bragg and is preparing for the Battle of Chickamauga].

Deserters were motivated to cooperate with their captors, and desertion from the Army of Northern Virginia was rampant. By deciding to desert, they had abrogated their former loyalties. Cooperative deserters, whose information was confirmed from other sources, were paroled by the BMI and moved North once they had sworn the oath of allegiance. The BMI attempted to make sure that this opportunity was made known to soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia. Similarly, PWs who did not want to be paroled back South, or exchanged, were useful sources of information. It was better to be housed, feed, clothed, and safe in a Federal PW pen than starving and at risk with Bobby Lee's army. By 1864, large numbers of Confederate PWs were refusing exchange.

Torture is the refuge of the stupid and the incompetent. A judicious application of pain will produce a confession to any crime or matter that the interrogator wants a confession to. My teaching point is the good, Catholic fathers of the Dominican Order, who caused tens of thousands of "witches" to be burned alive during the Inquisition. The "witches" had all confessed, because being burned alive was preferable to what the good fathers were doing to them to save their souls. None of that made the confessions in the slightest degree true.

From a military intelligence standpoint, torture is counter-productive. A man who knows nothing will create out of whole cloth what he thinks you want to hear simply to make the pain go away. The intelligence officer then chases his tail, at a great waste of time and effort, following and trying to confirm the resulting false leads. It also raises the ethical problem for the commander of possibly populating his intelligence organization with sadists, although that particular pathology was probably ill understood at the time of the Civil War.

Regards,
Don Dixon
Not to say what you said about torture is wrong but there is a strong counter argument in a best selling book written by the chief of intelligence in a modern conflict. Since the book deals with modern politics anyone can PM me for information.
Leftyhunter
 



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