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 hands, but even from the wounded and the sick whom they could not remove. Sometimes a dozen mounted men might be seen to fall suddenly upon a depot, to enter a hospital and compel hundreds of invalids to sign the parole. On the other hand, the certainty of being released as soon as captured, the thought of escaping from danger by surrendering to the enemy, and by means of a simple signature of being sent to some distant camp far from the theatre of war, enervated many soldiers whose courage would otherwise have been stimulated by the prospect of a long and cruel captivity. In the beginning of 1862 the capture of Fort Donelson effected a change in the proportion of prisoners in favor of the North. The fourteen thousand men included in the capitulation were retained by the Federals, who, having abundant means of transportation, desired to send them to the Western States, where their presence might afford evidence that Grant's victory had not been exaggerated. The government of Washington was, moreover, anxious to avail itself of the advantage it then possessed to regulate the conditions of exchanges in a precise manner, so as to obtain the release of all the officers held captives in the South. The Confederates did indeed have a certain number of Federals as hostages at Richmond, many of them of high rank, who were held responsible for the treatment accorded in the North both to pirates and partisans, and sometimes even to conspirators or assassins who under some plea or other claimed to be considered as political prisoners. They refused to dispossess themselves of these hostages by exchanging them for the Donelson prisoners, and shut them up in an old tobacco warehouse, which subsequently became notorious under the name of Libby Prison, where these officers were most cruelly treated. These unnecessary rigors were only a prelude to the atrocities which at a later period digraced the Confederates when the latter became exasperated by the abolition of slavery. The system of exchanges and of release on parole having thus been suspended, McClellan's campaign in Virginia greatly increased the number of prisoners on both sides, and this vast number of unserviceable men became a source of great embarrassment to the two governments. On the other hand, the care of the wounded and the various incidents of the war had rendered the
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