Thursday, February 10, 2011

Enemy Combatants: Black Soldiers in Confederate Prisons

The latest issue of Army History magazine (D 114.20:78) has a wonderful article by Thomas J. Ward, Jr.

When African-American Union soldiers were captured in the south the Confederacy had no idea what to do with them. The one thing they were clear on was that they couldn't treat them as Prisoners of War.

Some were summarily executed. Some were judged to be slaves and returned to their masters. Some were made to work for the Confederate army at the front lines (until Union General Benjamin Butler put white Confederate prisoners in the same position.)

Some free blacks were turned over to civilian courts to be tried but this proved an embaressment when the court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over crimes committed by men acting as soldiers.

Later in the war some of them were treated as POWs but the Confederacy refused to swap them for southern prisoners - which would imply that white and black were equal.

Fascinating story...


Bob O'Connor said...

I am in the midst of studying blacks in Confederate prisons. I ws toild there were 776. I have the names of 162 and am working towards the 776. I recently published a book called "The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison." There were 105 there. I recently learned that Salisbury, NC had about 300 -- but they only have around 50 names. Thanks for what you do!! Bob O'Connor

Robert Lopresti said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Bob. If you haven't looked at the article itself, you might want to. The bibliography might give some hints. You might also enjoy this webpage I created:

Quincy said...

This is awesome!