previous next

[709] the two combatants against each other, the usages of war, since these combatants belonged to civilized races, compelled them to be governed by certain laws, fixing the treatment to be accorded to prisoners, to the populations of the country which was the theatre of war, and to private property. Despite their animosity, the Americans of both North and South, so far as regards the manner in which they managed many of these questions, gave examples deserving to be pondered and imitated by European nations.

This part of our inquiry will embrace exchanges, requisitions, reprisals and the confiscation laws.

We have already stated that the Federals, in treating their first military prisoners as enemies and not as culprits, had virtually recognized the belligerent rights of their adversaries from the outset of the struggle. The Confederates, on their part, having in their hands prisoners who had been surrendered by their generals even before the declaration of war, were the first to inaugurate the system of release on parole. The regular troops whose misfortunes in Texas we have mentioned were permitted to return to the North on condition of a personal pledge on the part of every officer and soldier not to bear arms against the Confederates before having been exchanged. The battle of Bull Run and the capitulation of Lexington, in the summer of 1861, having increased the number of Federal prisoners, the government of Washington, without formally entering into the question of exchanges, gladly accepted de facto the principle of release on parole. It had already endorsed the stipulations entered into in Texas; it sanctioned the conditions imposed by Price upon the garrison of Lexington by retaining Mulligan's soldiers in camp, where they waited to be exchanged. This humane system, however, soon gave rise to serious abuses. As has been shown in the first volume, Price had kept as prisoners of war all the officers he had found in Lexington, and had only released the soldiers on parole, because he could neither keep them in the place nor take them along with him. If they had refused to take the pledge, he would have been obliged to let them go unconditionally free. The commanders of regiments, detachments or bands on both sides soon arrogated to themselves the right of exacting this pledge, not only from able-bodied prisoners who fell into their

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Sterling Price (2)
Mulligan (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: