overtaken, and to hold in custody such as surrender.
Such as are thus taken are put hors-de-combat by being put in prisons, and held as prisoners of war under such rules as are commonly regarded by what is termed civilized warfare, if, indeed, any people who engage in a war may be properly called civilized.
Instead of being killed after their surrender, prisoners are taken and held in prisons so that they may not further fight until properly returned or exchanged.
The civil war in the United States
was one of the fiercest struggles in history.
The subject of prisoners in the civil war, and their treatment furnishes to the student of military history some of the most horrible and pathetic incidents of human suffering ever known in the world.
Both sides of the contest, the United States
and the Confederate States of America
, have much to answer for in the matter of severe and cruel treatment of prisoners.
The advocates and partisans of either side have often made charges of inhumanity against the other side.
The responsibility for the harsh and cruel treatment of prisoners is not easy to fix in any specific or definite degree, and must always be considered as general, except in some special and individual cases.
As to which side was more to blame than the other can only be fairly considered and estimated by taking a comparative view of the means, powers and resources of both sides for the proper treatment of prisoners.
In view of the superior advantages of the United States government, it seems that the fair and just judgment of true and impartial history must be rendered in favor of the Confederate States
The Confederate government, at best, was the provisional, and was not well established as a permanent and reliable government.
Its credit was not well established and and could not be counted on for any more than its immediately tangible and visible resources in hand at that time.
Its only available asset for credit was the production of cotton, and at this period of war the raising of cotton was curtailed and limited so as to make an increase in substantial supplies for our armies.
The property in negroes at this time was uncertain as to its permanent character or of duration, and was not available as security for credit.
Prisoners were simply so many parasites of the enemy on the Confederacy
They were a lot of idle, non-paying, burdensome