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[158] that the guards, though efficient, were considerate and kind, and that they were careless but despotic. We are told that the hospital service was efficient and skilful, and that it was careless and neglectful. Probably all of these statements have something of truth in them, and yet they do not tell the whole truth. They may represent the attitude of a commandant before a particular emergency, which did not truly represent his character, for few men are thoroughly consistent; or they may indicate conditions in a prison at a particular time when it was at its best or at its worst.

There is little formal Congressional legislation on the prison question. The policies of the Governments were fixed very largely, as might be expected, by the Department of War, which issued orders for the care of prisoners. The army regulations provided, in a general way, for the prisoners taken by the Federals, but the circulars of instruction issued from the office of the commissary-general of prisoners formed the basis for most of the rules of the separate prisons. Later, the distinguished publicist, Francis Lieber, was selected to draw up rules for the conduct of armies in the field. These were published as General Orders No. 100, April 24, 1863, and constitute a long and minute code, including regulations for prisoners.

The only general legislation of the Confederate Congress during the whole period of the war was an act approved May 21, 1861. It reads as follows:

An act relative to prisoners of war approved, May 21, 1861

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That all prisoners of war taken, whether on land or at sea, during the pending hostilities with the United States shall be transferred by the captors from time to time, and as often as convenient, to the Department of War; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War with the approval of the President to issue such instructions to the quartermaster-general and his subordinates as shall provide for the safe custody and sustenance.


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