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Description - While in the Hands of the Enemy by Charles W. Sanders

Was the mistreatment of Civil War prisoners deliberate? During the four years of the American Civil War, over 400,000 soldiers - one in every seven who served in the Union and Confederate armies - became prisoners of war. In northern and southern prisons alike, inmates suffered horrific treatment. Even healthy young soldiers often sickened and died within weeks of entering the stockades. In all, nearly 56,000 prisoners succumbed to overcrowding, exposure, poor sanitation, inadequate medical care, and starvation. Historians have generally blamed prison conditions and mortality rates on factors beyond the control of Union and Confederate command, but Charles W. Sanders, Jr., boldly challenges the conventional view and demonstrates that leaders on both sides deliberately and systematically ordered the mistreatment of captives. Sanders examines the establishment of the major camps as well as the political motivations and rationale behind the operation of the prisons. Beyond a doubt, he proves that the administrations of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis purposely formulated and carried out retaliatory practices designed to harm prisoners of war, with each assuming harsher attitudes as the conflict wore on. From official and personal correspondence of high-level civilian and military leaders emerges a chilling chronicle of how prisoners came to be regarded not as men but as pawns to be used and then callously discarded in pursuit of national objectives. While in the Hands of the Enemy offers a groundbreaking revisionist interpretation of the Civil War military prison system, challenging historians to rethink their understanding of nineteenth-century warfare.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780807130612
ISBN-10: 0807130613
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 156mm x 31mm)
Pages: 472
Imprint: Louisiana State University Press
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publish Date: 1-Oct-2005
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Charles W. Sanders

CHARLES W. SANDERS, JR., is a professor of history at Kansas State University.