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POW exchanges

American Civil War

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Feb 22, 2011, 9:42am Top

Does anyone know where I can find detailed information on the mechanics of a prisoner exchange? I am especially interested in the ones that took place at City Point, VA.

Feb 27, 2011, 9:01pm Top

What in particular are you looking for, how the actual exchanges took place or how they came about? Off the top of my head I would suggest Ben Butler's Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences.

Feb 28, 2011, 1:31am Top

You might try to contact the Maryland Historical Society (www.mdhs.org) because one of the primary receiving points for paroled prisoners was at Camp Parole, MD., just outside Annapolis. The town is still called Parole, but there is a shopping mall there now.

Feb 28, 2011, 6:50pm Top

Thank you for your suggestion, Sgt. Bigg. Actually, now that you mention it, I'm kind of looking for both. How does a guy get chosen to be exchanged, and if I were standing there watching an exchange, what would I see?

Feb 28, 2011, 6:53pm Top

Thanks, Jim. The person I'm interested in was imprisoned at Pt. Lookout, and the exchange took place at City Point. I will look up Camp Parole & visit the Historical Society site as well.

Mar 2, 2011, 11:14am Top

While in the Hands of the Enemy by Charles Sanders has quite a lot of information on prisoner exchanges and on the POW camps. It's a good book, although a little dry in spots.

Mar 2, 2011, 5:40pm Top

Thanks for the suggestion, NLytle. Now. Anything on the LGBT experience in the civil war that you can recommend I read?

Mar 3, 2011, 5:55pm Top

What a complicated question!

The short answer:
I don't know of any book that covers homosexuality during the Civil War.

The long answer:
Any topic that involves gender roles and sexual orientation is very difficult, particularly when the topic is considered distasteful or abnormal as homosexuality has been for much of history. That means that much is left undocumented, obscured, or denied (even when true). Indeed, the behavior that constitutes homosexuality is often culturally specific; for example, I would consider a man gay if they have sex with other men, but at other times people did not consider the man who penetrated another man as gay but only the man who was penetrated.

A good survey on LGBT history is Homosexuality and Civilization, but it does not cover the American Civil War.

FYI, there is a book that surveys heterosexual sex during the Civil War: Lowry's The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell. However, that author has confessed to altering historical evidence. (See http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2011/nr11-57.html).

Mar 3, 2011, 6:55pm Top

I am bummed to hear that Lowry fiddled with the data. I was looking forward to that book.

I am interested in some of the apparently transgendered persons (ftm) who not only dressed as males in order to serve in the military, but who had lived before and continued to live after the war as men.

Was hoping someone had been able (and was willing) to uncover something more about them.

Thank you for your thoughtful response!

Mar 3, 2011, 6:58pm Top

OMG! That was him!!

I never put the two names together until I just checked the link provided by NLytle. Anybody who would change a Lincoln document would lie about anything.

Mar 4, 2011, 1:24am Top

Lowry has now recanted his confession. You can see his side of the story, or at least one version of it, at http://tomlowry.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/hello-world/

Mar 4, 2011, 12:15pm Top

>9 CivilWarWriter:

Well, there is a book about women who fought in the American Civil War, and it may be just what you're looking for. The book is They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War.

I'm not sure I could make any assumptions about the women: although they played a transgender role, they may not have considered themselves transgendered nor lesbians.

I haven't read the book, but it's published by Louisiana State University Press, which usually indicates solid scholarship.

>11 sgtbigg:
When someone confesses and then recants, does it say more about the person's honesty or judgment (or lack of them)?

Mar 4, 2011, 12:19pm Top

>12 NLytle:

Impossible question!


Mar 4, 2011, 8:13pm Top

#7 - Take a look at this, it's interesting, but I doubt it's what you're looking for.


Mar 4, 2011, 9:06pm Top

NLytle--definitely no assumptions here. But wondering. And intrigued. In one case, the woman had been passing as a boy since before she emigrated to this country. . . as a boy, at age 11! But I agree, there were so many reasons not to be a woman in the 19th century that most women who cross-dressed to live as men may well have done so for reasons other than feeling born as men in women's bodies.

I just bought They Fought Like Demons and am excited to be starting to read it just as soon as I get done playing on LibraryThing.

Mar 23, 2011, 1:49pm Top

Sarah Emma Edmonds wrote a book "Soldier, Nurse and Spy," about her experiences as a Union soldier, that has not really been out of print since 1866. As a woman who posed as a man, she became a spy, and took the role of black woman to go behind confederate lines and report on fortifications. So she was a woman, dressed as a man, who posed as a woman of a different race, to go behind the Confederate lines as a Confederate, then come back to the Union lines, return to being a woman who posed as a man, get back in uniform, and then, to top it all off, she wasn't even American, she was a Canadian. An excellent read!

May 9, 2011, 5:04am Top

My brother made a trip to the National Archives where he found a wealth of information on our great, great grandfather (sounds better than "ancestor"). We knew he was in Co. F, 40th IL Vol. What my brother found, though, is fascinating. At some point William Mackey was captured (at Shiloh?) and was a POW for some time. I believe he was paroled because he eventually returned to his unit. My brother is still sorting through all the documents he copied, so I hope I have more information soon.

Fascinating stuff.

May 9, 2011, 5:44am Top

>17 pmackey:

Fascinating indeed. If he was paroled, though, should he have returned to his unit?


May 9, 2011, 11:18am Top

Most likely he was exchanged rather then paroled, which would allow him to return to his unit.

May 9, 2011, 11:27am Top

I agree - it must be, otherwise the whole system breaks down.

May 9, 2011, 5:52pm Top

Sorry for the confusion. He eventually returned to his unit, I'm sure after he was exchanged.

From what I understand -- and that's only fragmentary -- after he was paroled, he went to Benton Barracks, near St. Louis, MO. I think that while at BB, he decided to go home for awhile. While home in southern Illinois he was turned in by someone as a deserter -- he definitely wasn't authorized. It's a bit confusing but there was something in the papers about Richmond, VA and Maryland. So, I believe he was duly exchanged and returned to his unit. Re the desertion, an officer took the time to write a letter, and while not mentioning desertion, it states my g.great grandfather fought at Shiloh and was wounded and says what a good soldier he was.

He served the remainder of the war. Was wounded at Kennesaw Mountain, missed the March to the Sea, and returned to his unit in time for the Grand Review.

Everything I know is fragmentary. Once my brother scans the documents he'll send a copy to me. Until then I can only wait impatiently.

May 10, 2011, 7:35am Top

I believe "paroled" means a POW could leave the prison but with restrictions - they could not fight or rejoin their unit until being "exchanged." Exchanged means that the POW was basically traded for the other side's POWs. After being exchanged, the former POW could fight and rejoin their unit.

Sometimes a prisoner was paroled because there were too many POWs on one side and not enough equivalent POWs on the other side. (The Union and the Confederates had negotiated an exchange system where a general on one side was worth so many privates of the other side, a colonel not quite so many privates, etc.)

May 11, 2011, 12:31pm Top

On a slightly alternative subject, can anyone recommend any work on the 'Galvanized Yankees'?

May 11, 2011, 6:16pm Top

Dee Brown - "The Galvanized Yankees." Think it's probably the standard work on the subject.

May 12, 2011, 6:11am Top

> 24


May 25, 2011, 8:47pm Top

#24 - Also check out Galvanized Yankees on the Upper Missouri by Michele Tucker Butts. She concentrates on the 1st Regiment, as it was the most well documented. I wrote a paper on the Galvanized Yankees last year, so if you're interested, let me know and I'll send you the other sources I've found. Unfortunately there's not all that much.

May 26, 2011, 4:57am Top

> 26

Thanks a lot!

Group: American Civil War

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