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During the Civil War more than four hundred thousand men, drawn from every section of the country and from all ranks of society, diverse in character, previous training, and experience, were confined under charge of perhaps one hundred thousand others, likewise drawn from every stratum of society. More than one hundred and fifty prisons, widely separated in space, served to confine these men. Some one, a Frenchman perhaps, has said, ‘All generalizations are false, including this one.’ No sweeping statement regarding the treatment of prisoners during the war can be true.

There is testimony of every conceivable sort. Southerners have stated that Federal prisoners were well treated and that they were badly treated, that the commandants of prisons were harsh and callous, and that they were kind and considerate. On the other hand, Federal prisoners have testified to acts of kindness and consideration and to acts of brutality. The same conflict of testimony exists regarding prisons in the North. This discrepancy is even more confusing when the same commandants are described as kind and careless, slothful and vigilant, indifferent and considerate.

Some prisoners saw in their keepers and their guards men charged with an unpleasant duty, but who, nevertheless, were struggling to make the best of hard conditions. Others confined in the same prison at the same time, paint them as willing instruments of a policy cunningly devised to break the spirit and sap the strength of their charges.

We are told that prisoners were starved, and that they were well fed; that they were well clothed and that they were naked;

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