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In this mass of material the man with a preconceived notion can find facts to his liking. . . . In no part of the history of the Civil War is a wholesome skepticism more desirable, and nowhere is more applicable a fundamental tenet of historical criticism that all the right is never on one side and all the wrong on the other.—James Ford Rhodes in ‘ History of the United States.’

From first to last, omitting the armies surrendered during April and May, 1865, more than four hundred thousand prisoners were confined for periods ranging from days to years. At the beginning of the war no suitable provision was made on either side. Naturally, a South which did not believe that there would be a war and therefore did not adequately provide for the contest, made no advance preparation for the care of prisoners. A North which believed that the South would be subjugated within ninety days, saw little need of making provision for captives. When the war began in earnest, the task of organizing and equipping the fighting men so engrossed the attention of the authorities that no time to think of possible prisoners was found.

A majority of the people, North and South, believed that an army might spring, full-armed, from the soil at the word of command, and that training in the duties and obligations of the soldier was not only unnecessary but in some way inconsistent with the dignity of a free-born American citizen. The thousands of volunteers, officers and men, who made up the armies in the years 1861-65, brought with them varying ideas and ideals, diverse standards of courtesy and justice.

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