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Why The Prison Camps During The American Civil War Were So Terrible.

1110 words - 4 pages

The prison camps of the American Civil War were terrible due to the falling apart of prisoner exchange programs, the decline of paroles available for officers, and poor war strategies by both sides. Camps were scattered across the country in both the North and the South. The best known of the Union camps were; Fortress Monroe, Virginia; Ohio State Penitentiary, Ohio and point Lookout, Maryland. The better known of the Confederate camps were; Danville, Virginia; Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia and Andersonville, Georgia. Conditions where many inmates died would send chills down the spine of anyone in this day and age. The camps ended up so crowded there wasn't enough space to shelter every inmate, some died of exposure to the elements, and others of malnutrition for the camp didn't have enough food for every prisoner. Some people died of diseases through poor sanitation, the grounds were dirty, barely cleaned, the inmates lived in their own muck.The Andersonville prison in Georgia was built in 1864 . The original structure covered 16.5 acres, with a 15 foot wall surrounding it . Later that year it was increased to 26.5 acres and made to a parallelogram shape . Sentry boxes ere stationed every 30 yards along the fence . White posts marked a line, 19 feet from the wall all the way around the inside, if crossed by a prisoner they would be killed . A stream called "Stockade Branch" ran through the stockade and supplied most of the water for the camp. The camp was designed to hold 13,000 prisoners but in August of 1864 confined a total of 32,000 men ! Over its 14 months of existence it contained a total of 45,000 Union soldiers . Almost 13,000 of these died, from diseases, such as Gangrene, Scurvy and Dysentery, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and constant biting of flies and mosquitoes, overcrowding or exposure to the elements . The prisoners had meager shelters built stacked near open sewers causing intoxication of another level from the diseases that dwelled there. There were no medical supplies available for the prisoners because the North had blocked off all the Southern ports.The few prisoners caught in 1861 didn't seem to cause many problems; there were enough forts and buildings to occupy them safely and sanitarily. The Confederacy wished for a formal exchange cartel in which they could exchange back prisoners to their enemy for someone of the same rank on their side, thus getting rid of someone useless and gaining someone they could use to fight. This exchange worked not only for people of the same rank but for example; four privates could be exchanged for one lieutenant, and sixty privates for one commanding general. The main reason the Confederates liked this idea was also because it released them of the burden of having to feed the prisoners, leaving more food for their own troops.The administration of President Lincoln was not as keen on this idea, for they would have to grant official recognition of such activities. After the battle at...

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